“TikTok is so carefree, why not have some fun with it?” Said Watters. “Highlighting these comments also puts a little pressure on: talking to dancers this way is not okay, and maybe you could be exposed for this type of behavior as well.”

One of the reasons Watters is comfortable with everything hanging out on TikTok is because he doesn’t have to worry about his boss rolling by. “I would have a hard time finding an art director who really knew what TikTok is,” he said. But the “mom and dad aren’t home” atmosphere may not last.

Professional ballet is making progress. The American Ballet Theater, one of the country’s leading companies, had its dancers take a TikTok course last spring. The company has been posting exploratory videos at @americanballettheatre since August and is expected to be the first major ballet company to officially open a TikTok account. Wherever ballet theater goes, other troops are sure to follow, a change that could transform the app’s ballet ecosystem.

Or maybe not. Current residents of the TikTok ballet may simply ignore corporate offers, especially if corporate accounts end up as a showcase for tech. “When I scroll through TikTok, I really don’t want to see Isabella Boylston do six pirouettes,” McCloskey said, referring to a lead dancer at the Ballet Theater. “She’s obviously incredibly talented, but it’s kind of boring. It’s not the creative content that I go to TikTok for. “

Akamine also noted that some of the young stars of TikTok ballet are not feeling the urge to seek institutional approval. “In this day and age, we have as much power and value on this platform as big corporations,” she said.

Connor Holloway, 26, the gender-specific member of the Corps de Ballet who runs the Ballet Theater’s TikTok account, said the company wanted to showcase a version of itself that feels true to the culture of the TikTok ballet. Last year, Holloway successfully campaigned for the Ballet Theater to remove gender labels from its corporate classes. Content that challenges the gender binary representation of ballet will “absolutely” be part of the TikTok presence of ballet theater, Holloway said, mentioning the possibility that the company’s account could be a crowdsourced ballet with choreography and design by young creators like Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical “made possible. ”



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