The social media-fuelled dance craze
When Raaz Rai came to Kathmandu on November 14, 2021, he had one dream: to become a social media dance sensation. After seeing many people go viral on social media for their dance videos, Rai was determined to find fame the same way.
In Kathmandu, Rai enrolled in a dance school, and for the next six months he devoted himself four hours of daily exercise. He now uploads dance videos on YouTube and Instagram and still harbors dreams of becoming a social media sensation.
In the past three years, dance videos have become the most popular form of content on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Many whose social media dance videos have gone viral have even been able to use the spotlight to become new age social media celebrities. Driven by the desire to become famous on social media, many young people are now enrolling in dance schools and learning the art form from professionals.
In the past two years, the number of students enrolled at
Vibe and Wave-Dance Studio Nepal (VWDSN), located in Kathmandu’s Baneshwor, has seen sharp growth. Before the pandemic, the dance studio had an average of 170 students at any given time. But it now has about 800 students.
“Before the pandemic, most of our students either aspired to become professional dancers or those who used dance to stay physically fit,” says Shah. “But in the last two years, most of our students were those who want to learn dance so they can make proper dance videos on social media.”
One student who joined VWDSN to be able to make dance videos on social media is seventeen-year-old Suvra Pandey. She has been taking contemporary dance classes at the studio for the past one year. Like many students her age at the studio, Pandey spent much of 2020 and 2021 lockdown watching dance videos on TikTok and Instagram. When Covid restrictions were lifted and life returned to normal, Pandey, driven to make a name for herself on social media, joined VWDSN.
Pandey now regularly uploads dance videos on her TikTok and Instagram accounts. “In this day and age, social media fame can be that turning point in one’s life,” says Pandey. “And given everything that’s happening on social media, it makes sense to focus on making dance videos.”
According to Nirnit Tandukar, CEO of Inmotion Studio Pvt Ltd, an advertising and marketing company that works primarily with social media influencers, dance videos are popular on social media because they are “easy to produce and don’t require a lot of resources. ”
“If you look at TikTok, every time a dance move goes viral, many start replicating it and uploading their own versions of it, creating a loop that gets wider and wider,” says Tandukar. “Dance as a format is so popular on social media that the majority of the social media campaigns we do for brands now feature dance.”
In 2018, twin sisters Prisma and Princy Khatiwada uploaded their first dance video on Musical.ly, which later became TikTok. The video went viral, and the duo instantly became a household name. The sisters continue to regularly upload dance videos to their TikTok account, @twinny_girls, which has more than 7.3 million followers. They have since appeared in numerous music videos and commercials.
“We were one of the first creators of social media content to go viral, and even to this day, dance videos are still very popular on social media. We wouldn’t have reached where we are today if it wasn’t for our dance videos,” says Prisma.
The desire to emulate the success of those whose dance videos have gone viral still draws many people to take dance lessons. But most of those who do take only short courses, dance school operators say.
“Someone who wants to become a professional dancer will have to undergo years of rigorous training. But the majority of those who enroll in dance schools to make dance videos for social media only take short courses, usually no longer than two months,” says Pralhaad Budhathoki, Modern Dance Academy, Hattisar, Kathmandu.
According to Shah and Budhathoki, the most popular forms of dance among young people are contemporary and hip-hop.
“Social media has definitely made dance popular again, and it’s given dance schools a new lease of life,” says Shah.
Both Raaz Rai and Pandey, who are only 17, have yet to go viral, but that, they say, is not a deterrent.
“While I may have started dancing hoping to become famous on social media, after taking dance classes I fell in love with the art of,” says Rai, who is 21. “I love making dance videos and posting them on social media. One day maybe one of my videos will go viral, but until then it’s all about continuing to do what I love.”