Dance aficionados may discuss or argue about the best dances, often considering the music and lyrics. It requires the analysis of dance shows and movies. Is the new Dancing With the Stars a real dance competition or a reality show? Does So You Think You Can Dance really represent dances people can relate to? Are the judges the celebrities or are the pros? Do the guests and/or participants get to experience the joy of dancing or just the agony of defeat? What inspires contestants to join the shows or events? All of these may be good questions, but do they really address dancing as it is most often viewed today? I choose the word, “viewed” carefully as this is about how audiences, guests, casual spectators, or those passing a Flash Mob experience dance. It is not how those people who dance experience it. Or maybe it is?

As many professionals know teaching a class, or people not in contact with you, is often easier when you are not facing the class but facing the same direction the class is. That way people behind you can watch your feet and body and move in the same direction and not have to mirror and consider opposite directions. So, while TIK TOK dancers are happy to show off their skills, they are not trained or interested in helping others become great dancing stars. They are happy to have others admire them and figure it out if they can. So, whether this is the form of communication that a couple has, dancing either in hold or in front of, or even beside each other in unison is likely a better question for those who have copied the TIK TOK dancers. It is not just for those that have watched some of them. If you have a thought or opinion, please feel free to share it with me so that I too can understand.

TIK TOK may very well be leading new dance trends. Traditional dance was always about following and leading. This still exists in TIK TOK dances. Well, maybe we need to amend the definition of the following to exclude the necessity of both parties dancing at the same time, even if dancing the same steps to the same beat and music. The difference is the leader is now an influencer and not necessarily a professional. While it appears that many TIK TOK influencers seek and hit the million-viewer status, their invitation is that you too can do their short choreography and should. A big part of TIK TOK dancing is others copying it. Of course, now, with attribution if applicable.

Lizzo’s About Damn Time dance craze runs all of 15 seconds or so. Others may run longer but in general, they are short enough that participants might not get too discouraged trying to join in. What percentage, then, go ahead and post themselves on TIK TOK is another question. With tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of views, one can only imagine that the audience is comparing so they will be ready to judge DWTS when called upon, or want to see if they too can match up.

In the meantime, feel free to let loose and try a few steps. 15 seconds of quick movement of every part of your body cannot be at all bad for you. Worst case scenario, you get a quick burst of energy from some new music. Best case, you too may become a TIK TOK star and influencer.

It should be recognized that when this craze passes as others have, and it is studied, the early leaders in what is now this current dance phenomenon will be recognized. Introducing a short, fun, exciting, and quick dance to an audience is not for the faint of heart. It requires a serious study of the music and often the lyrics. It requires the analysis of trends in music and the expectations of audiences. It requires years of training at the most prestigious institutions of dance and arts. And I am sure all of these were personified in Alfonso Ribeiro and his introduction of The Carlton Dance for, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. His earlier introduction in the 1990s shows just how influential he is and was. With over 26 million views on YouTube, and over one million results on Google, his creation may well have influenced this entire generation to break away from the standard nine or ten dances and create a multitude of variations in time and rhythm. Certainly, he was ahead of his time in recognizing that short, sweet, and fun carries as much weight as technical, somber, and stuffy.

Michael Reichenbach

Published – Dance Week

Published VOL XXXXVII No. 7

February 9, 2024

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