Can One Consider the Dancing on TikTok as Artistic Dance?


Maggie Smart, Assistant Online Editor

TikTok is full of the arts—singers, songwriters, painters, comedians, fashionistas, you name it. That might be one of the coolest things about the app, that people from around the world with neat and impressive talents can show off on this social media platform. And perhaps the artform seen most frequently is dancing. But what is this dancing? 

The fun and simple series of steps that so many TikTok creators perform and label as dancing is just that—fun and simple. TikTok dances are typically easy to learn and replicate and can be a really fun pastime. But executing them perfectly is not quite as simple. And that’s fine. The popularity of dancing on TikTok has produced an odd offspring: the notion that dancing is just one of those things that should come naturally. 

I love that people are now seeing dance much more frequently, are taking the time to learn some cool new moves and even perhaps have a newfound interest in it. Dancing is an incredible artform that was made for people to enjoy. 

What bothers me is the idea that it should be easy to master. Or that everybody has to be able to dance. Even the 15-second TikTok dances require a little bit of practice and patience to get right. And that’s normal. For the majority of people, learning TikTok dances can be a fun little challenge, and not getting it perfectly is just part of the experience. 

Another byproduct of the popularity of TikTok dancing is the oversaturation of dance on the app. Because these TikTok dances that most average people can do are so prominent, the actual dancers on this platform haven’t had the opportunity to shine that they deserve. 

Artists representing other artforms on TikTok have received enormous success from their popularity on the app. Visual artists have been able to sell more of their artwork or prints because a video of theirs went viral, or songwriters have seen success because one of their songs blew up. Take Lizzo, for example. Her entire career was launched due to a song of hers becoming a trend on TikTok. Why has TikTok not produced the Lizzo of dancing?

One could argue that the legendary Charli D’amelio became famous for her dancing on TikTok, and therefore represents what dance is on the app. And to that I would say this: while Charli does dance extracurricularly, the dancing she is known for and became famous for is still the typical TikTok style that requires little talent. If she had become famous for posting videos of the actual dancing she trains in, this would be a much different story. There has still yet to be a dancer blow up for actually dancing. 

This is because there is so much of this trendy TikTok dancing that people without experience perform and become famous for that there is little room for the dancers who spend hours on end training to get their moment of fame. And it gets a little discouraging seeing people who only dance for these 15-second videos become labeled as “dancers.” Dancing requires so much strength and dedication, athleticism and artistry, and these sorts of TikToks require nothing of the sort—just a few moments to memorize a few steps. It isn’t truly dancing, and seeing it constantly being referred to as such can be frustrating. 

Overall, however, I think it’s important to recognize how so many people now have been exposed to dancing in some capacity due to TikTok. Perhaps some people, after seeing dancing on their For You Page, have become interested in it, and maybe even have started to take classes. If the joy and art of dancing can be spread through this app, even if it is through the simple and low–effort types of dancing, it’s still a win for us dancers.

Editor’s note: 

Senior Maggie Smart started dancing around age 10. She has been training seriously in ballet for three years at the School of Carolina Ballet. Smart is currently dancing pre-professionally, where she is an understudy in various roles of the professional dancers.