Pin It
TikTok dance creators fighting for copyright
Via Instagram (@theemyanicole)

TikTok dance creators are fighting for the copyrights to their work

The #Creators4BIPOC movement is helping the choreographers behind the likes of the ‘Savage’ and ‘Up’ dances get proper credit for their creations

Ten Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) choreographers are fighting to get recognition for their dance creations. Among them are the originators of several viral TikTok dances, including for Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” and Cardi B’s “Up”.

Keara Wilson (creator of the “Savage” dance), Young Deji (“The Woah” dance), the Nae Nae Twins (“Savage Remix” dance), and Mya Johnson and Chris Cotter (“Up” dance) are being helped by the #Creators4BIPOC movement to secure the copyrights to their choreography.

The initiative is led by JaQuel Knight, who made history earlier this year by becoming the first choreographer to copyright his dance moves – for none other than Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”. After launching Knight Choreography and Music Publishing Inc last year – a publisher that will help other artists copyright their dances – Knight has now partnered with Logitech to help the chosen BIPOC creators own and monetise their creations.

The ten choreographers were presented with labanotations last week – a notation system for recording and analysing human movement that Variety reports is “the first step in helping the creators secure copyright to their choreography”.

“Copyrighting movement is about putting the power back in the artist’s hands,” Knight told the publication ahead of Wednesday’s (July 28) event. “It’s getting really serious. How much longer do we allow for the art of choreography and the art of dance to be taken advantage of?”

Meredith Rojas, Logitech’s global head of creator and entertainment marketing, added: “This is about putting the creator at the centre of everything we do.”

Black users who create viral TikTok dances are too often not credited for their work. This was most sharply exemplified by Addison Rae’s April appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, when she taught a number of routines to Fallon without crediting the creators of the moves.


NEW DANCE ALERT! 🚨 if u use my dance tag me so i can see🤗 @theestallion #writethelyrics #PlayWithLife #foyou #fyp #foryoupage #newdance #savage

♬ Savage - Megan Thee Stallion

Speaking to PopSugar at the time, Mya Johnson (co-creator of “Up”) said of Rae’s appearance: “I was very surprised because it’s like, ‘Wow, I made a dance that’s made it all the way to TV’. I was happy and everything... (but) I felt like that should have been my time and Chris’ time because we created the dance.”

After being widely criticised for not asking the dances’ original Black choreographers to take part in the segment, Fallon invited some of them, including Johnson, Cotter, Wilson, and more, to break down and perform their moves in the following show. “On our last show, we did a bit with Addison Rae where she taught me eight viral TikTok dances,” Fallon said. “Now we recognise that the creators of those dances deserve to have their own spotlight.”

In June, Black TikTokers protested white users’ appropriation of their work by refusing to create dances to Megan Thee Stallion’s new song, “Thot Shit”. The boycott was part of the #BlackTikTokStrike, which saw a number of Black creators stop posting content in order to raise awareness of the work they contribute to the app and gain proper recognition for it.