On NBC’s ‘Dancing With Myself,’ TikTok-Like Dances Meet Network TV

Even by the razzle-dazzle requirements of TV expertise competitions, “Dancing With Myself” units a formidable scene. Two stacked rows of room-size cubes, trimmed in shimmering lights, fill the stage – “Hollywood Squares” meets “Saturday Night Fever.” At the judging desk sit the pop stars Shakira and Nick Jonas and the web superstar Liza Koshy; behind them, a cheering studio viewers. One dice’s door slides open to disclose the present’s first contestant, who begins to carry out…

T a TikTok-style dance problem. The sort that creators on the app are identified for filming of their bedrooms, pajamas non-compulsory.

The engineered glamor of community actuality TV may appear at odds with the carefree looseness of TikTookay dance. “Dancing With Myself” has got down to show in any other case. The new NBC present, Tuesdays by means of July 19, tries to translate the viral dance problem phenomenon right into a actuality competitors format.

The packaging is acquainted: an elaborate set, a dwell viewers, a group of superstar judges. But this system’s social media-fluent contestants – who carry out quick dance challenges in remoted “pods” – don’t look, or transfer, like most dance-show opponents. And the judges aren’t simply commenting from behind the desk: They’re additionally billed as creators, setting and instructing the present’s dance routines.

“Dancing With Myself” is tapping into the off-the-moment energy of TikTookay in addition to the now vaguely nostalgic energy of a community tv expertise present. In its efforts to marry these two cultures, it has confronted among the identical points which have roiled the social media dance world – and revealed how a lot TikTookay dance itself has developed.

“It’s attempting to legitimize TikTookay dance in a venue that’s the antithesis of TikTookay,” mentioned Trevor Boffone, a instructor and writer of the e book “Renegades: Digital Dance Cultures from Dubsmash to TikTookay.” “But it is also displaying how deeply this sort of dance has develop into embedded in widespread tradition.”

“Dancing With Myself” went into improvement in early 2021, simply after the dance problem reached its zenith. “We noticed individuals having these digital dance events and posting these dances from their dwelling rooms, with all people in search of a approach to join,” mentioned government producer John Irwin. “And we thought, ‘My gosh, there’s acquired to be a present on this.'”

Celebrity star energy clinched the concept. In December 2020, Shakira and the Black Eyed Peas launched the dance-forward music video for his or her music “Girl Like Me.” It shortly went viral as followers tried to recreate a jazzercise-inflected passage of the choreography, which was created collaboratively by Maite Marcos, Shakira, Marc Tore and Sadeck Waff. Already a dance problem veteran, Shakira started reposting her favourite “Girl Like Me” movies to her social accounts. “She felt like the proper individual to tug into this,” Irwin mentioned.

Shakira got here on board as each an government producer and the chief of the present’s judging panel. Later, mannequin Camille Kostek joined because the host, and Koshy and Jonas rounded out the judging panel.

You’ll by no means hear the identify TikTookay on “Dancing With Myself.” (“We didn’t wish to be ‘the TikTookay present,’ as a result of we thought this motion was bigger than that,” Irwin mentioned.) But TikTookay tradition, shined up for tv, shapes many features of its format.

The 12 contestants on every episode study a collection of routines that resemble social media dance challenges of their brevity and relative simplicity. They carry out in sq. “pods” that recommend the boxed seclusion of telephone screens, unable to see one another for a lot of the challenges. Like many TikTookay dance creators, Jonas, Koshy, Kostek and Shakira usually are not skilled choreographers, however all show and assist educate the present’s routines. Though judges have alternatives to avoid wasting favourite dancers, “likes” are the forex of the competitors, with winners decided by viewers votes which might be animated onscreen as showers of hearts.

The “Dancing With Myself” strategy to casting is probably most in step with TikTookay’s ethos. “On the app, what results in success is just not essentially good dancing, however, actually, the persona of the performer,” Boffone mentioned.

Though some “Dancing With Myself” contestants are gifted and extremely skilled dancers, the present makes some extent of together with charismatic opponents of all talent ranges. Many are already TikTookay standouts: the dancing flight attendant, the dancing police officer, the dancing dentist. (And the dancing TikTookay scholar. Boffone, who posts routines along with his college students on Instagram and TikTookay, was solid as an alternate for the present’s fifth episode.)

“This is a present that’s for everybody,” Shakira mentioned in an electronic mail. “It’s about celebrating the love of dance and private tales amongst all individuals, not simply professionals.”

“Dancing With Myself” has arrived as TikTookay dance reaches an inflection level. In 2019 and early 2020, when the platform was nonetheless primarily often called the “teen dance app,” its tradition revolved across the dance problem. But as TikTookay has grown to incorporate a wider vary of customers and makes use of, dance challenges have develop into much less dominant. The Renegade problem, which Jalaiah Harmon choreographed in fall 2019, has 124.8 million views. This spring’s blockbuster dance, choreographed by Jaeden Gomez to Lizzo’s music “About Damn Time,” has about 31 million views.

Continuing questions in regards to the correct crediting of dance creators, significantly creators of shade, have additionally contributed to the cooling of the dance problem development. Last summer season’s #BlackTikTokStrike marketing campaign noticed some Black artists, annoyed by white influencers co-opting their dance content material, take a step again from the platform. (The app lately added a built-in crediting characteristic that permits customers to establish the unique creator of a dance.)

The present’s relationship to this dialog is considerably difficult. “Dancing With Myself” doesn’t embody its contestants’ social media handles and even their final names, making it troublesome to search out or observe them on-line. It additionally replicates, after a style, among the crediting points many TikTookay creators have protested. During the present, the celebrities are recognized as creators of the dance challenges, and show the choreography as if it have been their very own. Behind the scenes, they’re aided by a crew {of professional} choreographers – Brittany Cherry, Cameron Lee, Will Simmons and Kelly Sweeney – who have been themselves chosen by the choreographers and co-executive producers Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo, who’re married.

“If you are not a choreographer, it is fairly a to-do to create that many dances in a brief period of time,” mentioned Napoleon, who, with Tabitha, has labored on “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing With the Stars, ”amongst different exhibits. “We are there to help the creators within the choreography. We put a base collectively, after which we work along with them on what feels good and what strikes they wish to put into the dance. ”

Napoleon notes that the present’s finish titles embody all the choreographers’ names, which is already extra crediting than some tv dance artists get. “To put that info into the episode itself, I feel it would be complicated for the viewers,” he mentioned. “We don’t all the time say when Tom Cruise is doing a stunt or when it is a stuntman.”

The “Dancing With Myself” contestant roster contains a number of profitable social media stars. Why would they topic themselves to the reality-television meat grinder? Because widespread creators’ giant follower counts can obscure the narrowness of their fame, which is usually restricted to a distinct segment on-line group. A nationwide TV present affords a bigger highlight – a boon for these craving higher recognition for his or her work.

“I imply, it is community, ”Said Marie Moring, a second episode contestant who has practically 700,000 TikTookay followers. “Social media is pretty new, however NBC has been round. People know NBC. ” And Moring, 46, discovered that the present helped her attain a brand new demographic: her friends. “Lots of Gen X-ers, my individuals, they don’t seem to be on social media, however they watch TV,” she mentioned. “People are coming to my web page now simply to say they noticed me on the present.”

TikTookay superstar can also be restricted by the platform’s short-video format, which permits solely temporary glimpses of its creators. Keara Wilson, 21, the winner of the second episode of “Dancing With Myself,” is without doubt one of the most well-known TikTokers to seem on the present: She choreographed the Savage problem that swept the web in spring 2020, and now has 3.4 million followers . Despite her viral second, Wilson mentioned she thought few of her followers knew a lot about her.

“There’s simply not a lot you’ll be able to present doing 15- or 30-second movies,” she mentioned. Hers was a wierd half-fame – additional difficult by white creators’ appropriation of her choreography, which meant that many who encountered the Savage problem by no means knew Wilson created it. (Wilson is now within the strategy of copyrighting her Savage dance.)

But actuality TV is the realm of the again story, and “Dancing With Myself” contains packages showcasing contestants’ offline in addition to on-line lives. On the present, not solely did the judges shout out Wilson because the creator of the Savage problem however viewers additionally realized about her upcoming wedding ceremony, and her intensive dance expertise past TikTookay challenges. “It’s been two years,” Wilson mentioned throughout her episode, “and I lastly get to point out who I actually am.”

Neither Moring or Wilson noticed a major bump of their TikTookay followings after showing on “Dancing With Myself.” Both, nevertheless, mentioned they solid beneficial bonds with most of the creators they met on the present. Boffone described the lodge the place contestants stayed throughout filming as “TikTookay summer season camp,” with everybody staying up late to follow dances and share profession recommendation.

“Lots of us have been very excited to be round different those that get it,” he mentioned. “It’s like, hey, how do I speak to manufacturers? What are some good methods for utilizing hashtags? It’s develop into this cohort of individuals which might be all sharing assets and serving to one another achieve success. ”

Though “Dancing With Myself” is way from a runaway hit, it’d replicate the subsequent step within the improvement of TikTok-style dance: taking the dance problem offline. As the app’s vocabulary and memes have seeped into mainstream tradition, TikTookay dance-alongs have begun occurring all over the place from live shows to baseball video games. There could also be a day when you find yourself much less more likely to see TikTookay dance on TikTookay than you’re to see it on TV.

“These sorts of actions, it is not the platforms which might be creating them, it is the individuals,” Irwin mentioned. “We’re providing one other place for that motion to unfold.”

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