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Why Broadway Dancers Are Taking Over TikTok

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In the event you use TikTok, you’ve virtually actually seen that Broadway dancers are having a giant second on the app. Sharing behind-the-scenes tidbits, demystifying #tourlife, orchestrating backstage hijinks, nerding out over favourite reveals: Musical theater performers are creating content material that makes full use of their distinctive abilities—and incomes large followings within the course of. And plenty of of those social media stars are ensemble members, swings, and understudies, whose roles are important to the success of any present, however who don’t sometimes get a lot time within the highlight.

What code have these dancers cracked to attain viral fame? Is it true that being large on TikTok is the important thing to getting forged in a sought-after present lately? And are there any downsides to having a whole lot of hundreds—perhaps even thousands and thousands—of individuals watch your movies? 5 #BroadwayTok stars break it down.

Massive Theater Power

Each dancer has heard some model of the identical recommendation: Carry out for the individual sitting within the final row, all the best way up within the balcony. Paula Leggett Chase, who goes by @antiqueshowgirl, thinks that charisma and enthusiasm are what’s drawing folks to Broadway performers within the very completely different surroundings of TikTok. “You see the power popping out of their pores,” she says. “They’re storytellers, and I believe that speaks to folks.” JJ Niemann, who along with his a million followers is certainly one of #BroadwayTok’s largest stars, agrees: “We all know the way to promote it to an viewers,” he says.

In 2023, Niemann occurred to grow to be a member of the unique Broadway forged of Again to the Future alongside one other TikTok phenom, Amber Ardolino. Like a variety of different Broadway performers, Niemann and Ardolino share humorous glimpses behind the scenes of their present, like backstage shenanigans and jokes concerning the grueling actuality of an eight-show-per-week way of life. “I typically get feedback like, ‘Oh, so being on Broadway is rather like grownup theater camp?’ ” says Ardolino. “For me to point out folks that stay theater is chaotic and enjoyable and a multitude—I like that persons are attending to see that.”

Musical theater performers have additionally created their very own TikTok-specific developments to attraction to a distinct segment however enthusiastic viewers of present and aspiring performers. Collection like “roles I auditioned for versus roles I acquired,” or “soprano line versus alto line” have helped make TikTok a theater nerd’s paradise.

And #BroadwayTok performers give their audiences an opportunity to see elements of the enterprise they don’t sometimes know as a lot about. Take Gerianne Pérez, who’s presently starring as Catherine of Aragon within the nationwide tour of SIX. She peppers in tour-specific content material for her followers, like mini-vlogs about journey days and recaps of the tour’s stops in several cities. Niemann, who’s a member of the ensemble in Again to the Future in addition to a canopy for 2 lead roles, offers his followers a have a look at what it’s wish to play that type of pivotal however under-recognized function in a present.

GERIANNE PÉREZ. COURTESY PÉREZ.

Enjoyable or Profession?

So is TikTok a profession stepping-stone or simply for enjoyable? That relies upon. Niemann says he and Ardolino generally get extra consideration on the stage door than the present’s leads, and Ardolino notes that TikTok has given her the chance to fulfill different artists she admires and collaborate with them. “However I nonetheless must go in for a similar auditions as everybody else,” she says with fun. “Broadway is difficult sufficient. If I didn’t love doing this, I wouldn’t add it to my plate.”

For veteran dancer Brian Ust, often called @theatredancebrian, TikTok did convey at the least one surprising alternative to audition for a preferred TV sequence. “TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube have grow to be my stage,” he says. Chase, a Broadway veteran whose credit embody A Refrain LineBye Bye Birdie, and Tootsie, says that her TikTok presence hasn’t earned her alternatives, nevertheless it has made youthful performers “extra open” to her. At 62, “my age group is a little bit invisible,” she says. “However now once I stroll into one thing with a younger forged, they know me.”

BRIAN UST. PHOTO BY DOREEN LASKIEWICZ, COURTESY LASKIEWICZ.

Although Niemann agrees that TikTok hasn’t actually modified his stage profession, it has grow to be a enterprise for him. And within the feast-or-famine lifetime of a performer, that’s a present. “TikTok genuinely is simply as fruitful for me financially as my appearing profession and Broadway profession,” he says. “And it’s very nice to have one other artistic outlet and fervour.”

Constructing Group

TikTok does have a darkish aspect: nasty feedback, which aren’t distinctive to TikTok however which Gerianne Pérez, of SIX, says will be “outlandishly imply.” Dancer Brian Ust, for instance, skilled a barrage of destructive feedback after a celeb reposted certainly one of his movies. “That was one of many worst experiences I’ve had,” he says.

Pérez likes to do not forget that trolls are sometimes reacting to theater performers’ quirkiness—which can also be what makes them good at what they do. “We’ve got at all times been a little bit unusual. It’s as a result of we’re one thing particular,” she says. And regardless of Ust’s destructive experiences, he nonetheless refers to his followers as a “household.” His good experiences on the platform outweigh the unhealthy, he says.

Different #BroadwayTok performers echo that sentiment. A few of performer Paula Leggett Chase’s followers have informed her that her movies impressed them to return to bop class—or to strive dancing for the primary time. Amber Ardolino, of Again to the Future, provides that she meets folks on the stage door who say they got here to the present as a result of they discovered about it from her TikTok.
“They really feel like they know us, like they’re watching a good friend onstage,” she says. “It’s such a powerful and particular connection.”

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