Late last month, the TikTok influencer Addison Rae went on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and casually performed a suite of recent viral dance routines in a comedic skit. Critics reacted with cries of appropriation — the dances’ creators, many of them Black, were not credited — and with dismissals of Rae’s dancing ability.
What the producers of the skit failed to acknowledge is how dance credits have become integral to TikTok, as they have been on apps where dance was previously popular, like Instagram and Dubsmash. Influencers like Rae and Charli D’Amelio might be the most well-known dancers on TikTok, but they are vessels for dances created by a range of others, from professional choreographers looking for a jolt of virality to teenagers working out new moves in their basement.
On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about the ways dance has been central to the spread of TikTok, the relationship between Black choreographers and white influencers and a pocket history of dance credits on social media.