Many 30-seconds-or-less dances like, “The Renegade”, “The Woe” and the “Savage” ruled social media during the 2020 pandemic lockdown. When almost all of the world was put on pause, social media users seemed to unite in creative ways.
A topic of conversation that seemed to come, after all of the dancing: has simplistic TikTok dancing ruined modern dance and choreography?
TikTok dancers such as Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae rose to fame in 2020 with their over-the-top facials and fluid body movement while performing these dances. It seemed that most dancers on the platform would dance in a very specific fashion.
One of the running jokes made fun of the fact that TikTok dancers only danced with their arms as their feet would stay in place. One reference being passed around was that TikTok dancers were “downgraded court jesters” as they were seen to dance with only their arms and faces.
Black TikTok creators even began a protest to prove that many of the big dances on the platform would be performed without giving credit to the originator. These creators were proving that their work was being overlooked once their dances were performed by more popular creators.
Two weeks after the protest, a TikTok spokesperson announced the launch of a page dedicated specifically to dancing and choreography on the site’s discovery page. This provided a venue for both professional and amateur dancers to share their work while receiving the credit they deserved.
Choreographer Greg Chapkis created a dance to Daddy Yankees’ hit song, “Con Calma,” in 2019, before the rise of TikTok. When he saw novice dancers racking up views on the site, he posted a simpler version of the song on his TikTok page. Since it was posted, the TikTok has been viewed over 1.8 billion times. Chapkis has since been an outspoken supporter of the TikTok dance community.
In a Wired UK interview, Chapkis stated, “I feel dancers are always in the background of the artist, and no dancers are creating their lane.” Chapkis, along with other choreographers, helped show that bringing light to the dancers typically hidden in the shadows benefited the dance community.