This week we sat down with the talented Knox Harter to talk about creating shows, promoting them and the wonderful world of burlesque. Knox is a Toronto based dancer, performer, teacher, and producer with a unique style and vintage flare. Read on to learn more about her and her work, as well as her new upcoming show The White Light Follies through the links at the bottom of this article.
1. What draws you to burlesque?
I fell into burlesque as a professional dancer by accident and found I had far more freedom to creatively express myself than contemporary or commercial dance allowed. The turn-over rate for creation is also very quick comparatively, which means within 5 years of High Society Cabaret’s existence, we have a diverse body of work. I have also found on a personal level that I get to indulge in more diverse and daring work, never mind the fact that the art form has taught me so much! Burlesque not only made me a better dancer, performer and choreographer, but turned me into a director, writer, and producer.
2. In 3 words or less, how do people describe your shows?
Theatrical, thoughtful and funny.
3. What is one goal you’d like to accomplish in your lifetime?
I have so many! One goal I have for High Society Cabaret is I’d like to get the point where we’re doing full 2-3 week runs of a show. I would love us to be THE must-see cabaret company in Toronto, in the same way, Paris has the Moulin Rouge. For myself, I’m starting to have big dreams of being an international headliner. I would love to just travel the world and perform and teach.
4. Do you spend time promoting your shows online?
I spend anywhere from 2-6 hours every day on creating promotion in general, about half of that time is online promotion. What I have found most helpful is setting up a timeline of how, when and what to promote. Typically I start promoting a show about 6-8 before the show happens. This gives it time to be “discovered” gradually by my audience leading up to the show. From there I pick and choose what aspects of the production I want to showcase in my time line, I try to suss out what will get the most draw when I need it, then I spend the last two weeks of my promo period with aggressive pushing. I try to keep tabs on which posts do well and when. It’s still a crapshoot, but each show I discover a new trick to expand my reach and get people talking!
5. What’s the most difficult part of promoting yourself and your shows online?
Getting people to actually take action! Toronto is such a difficult and temperamental city when it comes to engagement. They’re incredibly hesitant to see new art. They want the bandwagon to be rolling before they hop on. As a new(ish) company it’s a struggle to convince Torontonians to take the leap and try something new! The shows are fantastic! My cast in some of the best talent in the city, it is a guaranteed entertaining evening, but Toronto audiences are scared to commit in case “something better” happens on the same night. The challenge is convincing them aggressively enough to buy a ticket or show up at the door. Once they’re in, they’re always hooked!
6. What advice would you give to other dancers who are starting out?
Be patient and never give up! My grandfather told me when I left school “it takes years to become an overnight success”, and I’ve held on to that advice through every challenge, pitfall, and disappointment I’ve encountered. Every time something doesn’t go my way, I try to take a step back and assess why something did or did not work. I try and take responsibility of the things I can control, and let go of the things I can’t. And trust me when I tell you, that takes a LOT of practice! But I keep faith that if I keep going, I keep pushing and I keep learning, that one day my hard work will fall into place and bear the most beautiful fruit!
For more on Knox Harter, follow her adventures on social media here: