December 15, 2022
KATHMANDU – When Raaz Rai came to Kathmandu on November 14, 2021, he had one dream: to become a dance sensation on social media. Having seen many people go viral on social media for their dance videos, Rai was determined to find fame the same way.
In Kathmandu, Rai enrolled at a dance school, and for the next six months, he devoted four hours of daily practice. He now uploads dance videos on YouTube and Instagram and continues to harbour dreams of becoming a social media sensation.
In the last 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 limelight to become new-age social media celebrities. Driven by the desire to become famous on social media, many youngsters are now enrolling at dance schools and learning the art form from professionals.
In the last two years, the number of students getting 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 at any given time. But it now has around 800 students.
“Before the pandemic, most of our students either aspired to become professional dancers or were using dance to stay physically fit,” says Shah. “But in the last two years, most of our students have been those who want to learn dance so that they can make proper dance videos on social media.”
One student who joined VWDSN a year ago 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’s lockdown watching dance videos on TikTok and Instagram. When Covid restrictions were lifted and life returned to normalcy, Pandey, driven to make a name of her own on social media, enrolled at 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 all that is 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 primarily works with social media influencers, dance videos are trending 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 upload 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 immediately became a household name. The sisters continue to regularly upload dance videos on their TikTok account, @twinny_girls, which has more than 7.3 million followers. They have since appeared in countless music videos and advertisements.
“We were one of the first social media content creators to go viral, and even to this day, dance videos continue to be very popular on social media. We wouldn’t have reached where we are today had it not been for our dance videos,” says Prisma.
The desire to emulate the success of those whose dance videos have gone viral continues to draw many to take dance lessons. But most of those who do so only take short courses, say dance school operators.
“Someone who wants to become a professional dancer will have to undergo years of rigorous training. But the majority of those who enrol at dance schools to be able to make dance videos for social media only take short courses, usually not longer than two months,” says Pralhaad Budhathoki, Modern Dance Academy, Hattisar, Kathmandu.
According to Shah and Budhathoki, the most popular forms of dance among youngsters are contemporary and hip-hop.
“Social media has definitely made dance popular all over again, and this has given dance schools a new lease of life,” says Shah.
Both Raaz Rai and Pandey, who is only 17, are yet to go viral, but that, they say, is not a deterrence.
“While I might have gotten into dancing in the hopes of becoming famous on social media, after taking dance classes, I have fallen in love with the art from,” says Rai, who is 21. “I love making dance videos and posting them on social media. One day, one of my videos might go viral, but until then, it’s all about continuing to do what I love.”