YouTube is incredibly democratic in the sense that it offers all users equal opportunities to be seen, heard, and become viral sensations. Mirror to the communities that have formed in our society lives, naturally, certain virtual groups have also emerged in the YouTube community. I would like to examine the dance community on YouTube, focusing on hip hop. This interest spurs from my dance roots and the correlations between the YouTube dance community and the non-virtual dance community in all respects – from choreography to the relationships it has fostered.
Some YouTube statistics to put its prominence into perspective: its viewership “nearly double the prime-time audience of all 3 major U.S. broadcast networks combined” and there are 24 hours of video being uploaded every minute. Today, the world is crawling with users. It is not surprising that it has been incorporated into our lives beyond purely entertainment purposes, as with hip hop dancers.
While I personally have never uploaded by own dance videos (although I have team videos), many dancers have utilized YouTube as a tool in broadcasting their dance endeavors. I began my explorations of this phenomenon with the notion that there would be unified perceptions of what is considered the YouTube dance community and its effect on the dance world. That generally, it inspires, is a platform for exchange, expands a dancer’s vocabulary, is a supplement to one’s resume, fosters a supporting community, has made dance and dancers more visible, and connects dancers virtually (leading to face-to-face interaction) on a global level. While my qualitative survey elicited responses I expected and ones I did not; dancers expressed their nuanced feelings towards YouTube and its impact on dance beyond my initial observations and thoughts as a dancer who frequently visits YouTube for dance-related content.
Some of the most involved dancers I questioned were surprisingly also some of the least involved with the dance community within YouTube. I have not yet organized the responses in an orderly manner or make distinctive generalizations on usage patterns. But here are the bulk of the interview results: