August 16, 2022

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

You’ll never hear the name TikTok on “Dancing With Myself.” (“We didn’t want to be ‘the TikTok show,’ because we thought this movement was larger than that,” Irwin said.) But TikTok culture, shined up for television, shapes many aspects of its format.

The 12 contestants on each episode learn a series of routines that resemble social media dance challenges in their brevity and relative simplicity. They perform in square “pods” that suggest the boxed seclusion of phone screens, unable to see each other for most of the challenges. Like many TikTok dance creators, Jonas, Koshy, Kostek and Shakira are not experienced choreographers, but all demonstrate and help teach the show’s routines. Though judges have opportunities to save favorite dancers, “likes” are the currency of the competition, with winners determined by audience votes that are animated onscreen as showers of hearts.

The “Dancing With Myself” approach to casting is perhaps most in line with TikTok’s ethos. “On the app, what leads to success is not necessarily good dancing, but, really, the personality of the performer,” Boffone said.

Though some “Dancing With Myself” contestants are gifted and highly trained dancers, the show makes a point of including charismatic competitors of all skill levels. Many are already TikTok standouts: the dancing flight attendant, the dancing police officer, the dancing dentist. (And the dancing TikTok scholar. Boffone, who posts routines with his students on Instagram and TikTok, was cast as an alternate for the show’s fifth episode.)

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