Phoenix realtor uses dance, arts to appeal to homebuyers

Aaron Carter, HomeSmart Elite Group realtor and former dancer from New York, encourages appreciation of Phoenix culture within a luxury condo at Optima Camelview in Scottsdale. (Photo courtesy of Matt Wilczek)

Sixteen years ago, a New York City real estate agent followed his passions for design and people to the Valley.

Aaron Carter, real estate agent with HomeSmart Elite Group, has been enlivening the market for real estate within historic communities near downtown Phoenix by combining dance, photography, art and creative marketing.

As a contemporary dancer, Carter found much of his confidence and identity in performing. One of the areas he’s most invested in is Pierson Place, an 80-year-old historic neighborhood between Central and Seventh avenues and Camelback Road and the Grand Canal Trail. It was the subject of his latest creative marketing dance video.

Carter, dancers from the Movement Source Dance Company and a dancer from Arizona State University filmed the video to promote Phoenix real estate.

He said the idea for the video was inspired by a conversation with Steven Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU, who told Carter about another company that used creative dance for marketing.

“He told me about Ballet Hispanico and the Ford Foundation, and they did this cool video where the CEO talked about their legacy and said ‘I am a dancer too,’” Carter said.

Kirk Johnson, founder of nonprofit music education program SOUNDS Academy, helped make Carter’s desire to combine his passions for dance and real estate possible.

As part of their partnership, Johnson motivated Carter to continue promoting the purchasing and revitalization of Phoenix homes in creative ways. Carter brought in James Kottke, an architect, realtor and builder from the Arcadia Ingleside neighborhood in north Phoenix, to help with the revitalization of a historic home.

“We take these old houses in the neighborhood that were built in the ‘60s and completely redesign, remodel, update, reconfigure and add on to them,” Kottke said, adding that Carter “does things that I don’t do and vice versa.”

The creative dance video was filmed at a 1944 home at 503 W. Coolidge St. within the Pierson Place historic district incorporating Movement Source dancers, Kristin Hugins and Paola Ramirez, as well as ASU dancer Gina Jurek.

Jurek, a senior at ASU, has been dancing since her time growing up in Sierra Vista 10 years ago.

“Contemporary is my main jam,” Jurek said.

She said she recalls immediately having interest in the project and being eager to show up even with limited knowledge.

“I think (Carter) being able to combine both of his passions is a great thing,” Jurek said.

Mary Anne Herding, director of the Phoenix-based Movement Source, had known Carter years ago when he danced with her company. She said he contacted her a couple of weeks prior to filming with a proposal for the project.

“He was really an awesome and talented dancer, so I was glad to see him connecting a few things that he’s passionate about,” Herding said. “I grabbed a couple of my dancers that I thought would look energetic and sent them over to do the shoot with him.”

Herding said her dancers, Hugins and Ramirez, showed up on the site of the Pierson Place home and helped co-choreograph the phases for their video.

Another large creative component of Carter’s unique approach to marketing real estate is the incorporation of work done by local artist Thomas Carlyle, who goes into the homes, assesses homeowners’ taste and style of décor and produces high-quality paintings.

“Tom is so talented, he loves what he does and he is a great artist to work with,” Carter said.

The collaborative process between Carter and Carlyle is inclusive and interactive.

“We go into a home, we talk to homeowners, we ask them what they would like and what they’re inspired by and Tom creates,” Carter said.

To add another artistic element to the marketing of his real estate, Carter has collaborated with Matt Wilczek, Ignition Real Estate photographer.

“I called upon my Lois Springfield best moments and did a couple of practice takes of jumping, and lo and behold — Matt got the photo and in back of me is this amazing view of Camelback Mountain,” Carter said.

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Correction: May 26, 2016:

A previous version of this story misidentified the location of the house featured in the photo; it has been updated to reflect the correct location.

A previous version of this story also misidentified the Arcadia Ingleside neighborhood as a historic district, which it is not.