Dance is a powerful medium for expression and communication that connects us. It is a core part of our entertainment, from movies to music videos. For the past two years, ~50% of the most popular Tiktok accounts have been dance content creators. Though overlooked, dance is an integral part of our lives.
When it comes to the creator economy, dancers are some of the most overlooked creators due to the lack of representation in web 2.0. Although platforms such as Tiktok have put a spotlight on the dance medium, there are still some challenges when it comes to giving credit to the originators of certain moves. It is also difficult for dancers to earn an income directly from their dance content due to copyright limitations.
Dance is not only an art– it is a sport. Dancers, through rigorous training, are no different from professional athletes, however, their wages are markedly lower. Professional dancers earn 93% less than their peers. Ultimately, no matter what angle you look at dance, it is apparent that as a medium, it is neglected.
So, here comes Blockchain. Blockchain makes it possible for dancers to put incentives in place so that they can directly earn from their dance content. Dancers are able to create for multiple formats of media, such as emotes, motion capture, and video– giving them a plethora of ways to earn from their movement.
The Dance Choreography Copyright Crisis
Brian Esperon, a dancer from Guam, created the viral choreography to the Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion hit “WAP”. Although his original choreography video to the song was reposted by the artist Cardi B herself, the repost was not enough for Brian to receive as much recognition for his other creations as the viral choreography did.
Soon, other creators received more recognition for recreating his choreography than he did. This turn of events sparked a deeper conversation on IP ownership rights and rewards for dance content. In recent times, there has been an increase in dancers who are turning to copyright law to protect their work.
The popular game Fortnite, has received multiple lawsuits from dancers after using their choreographies to animate the in-game emotes without permission. Kyle Hanagami sued Fortnite in 2020 after the game appropriated dance moves from his choreography to “How Long” by Charlie Puth.
Breathing new life into the dance creator economy
How is blockchain restructuring the dance creator economy?
Web3 social media platforms like HUDDLN, enable dancers to sell video NFTs of their dancing in a similar format to the dance videos on Tiktok. Dance videos can also be sold in more “formal” ways on NFT collecting platforms such as Opensea or Foundation.
On the blockchain, dancers are not only limited to creating video content. Through motion capture, dancers are able to patent their moves so that they can be bought for animation rig transfers. The music video for Light It Up by Major Lazer demonstrates highly creative visuals and animated choreography using motion capture.
Platforms for Dance on the Blockchain
Mainstream NFT marketplaces such as Opensea and Foundation are known to platform some of the most prominent dance figures in the NFT space. However, unlike Tiktok, these marketplaces aren’t popular for their dance content.
Let’s take a look at platforms which are specifically dedicated to dance and movement.
Bringing on the HEAT
HEAT, an emote marketplace, has recognised the gap for dancers in the creative economy and are building an impeccable solution. Their project is about capturing signature moves using motion capture suits and making them available in the metaverse.
On July 1st, HEAT announced that they had successfully raised $2.6 million in their Seed Round. They will be using the funds towards building infrastructure to facilitate self-expression on social platforms such as games and immersive virtual spaces.
Groovetime is a social platform where dance culture meets NFTs. Their mission is to “help dancers live off their craft, connect with super fans and give them exciting new ways to experience dance”. Groovetime’s belief is that they can have a positive impact on the world by empowering dancers through technology. NFTs on the platform also give access to perks such as dance lessons and digital merchandise.
Not only does Groovetime platform dancers, the solana based platform is creating a place for musicians, producers and dancers to collaborate. Their motivation for this is to help dancers take their videos to the next level by replacing their audio with music they have rights to use while simultaneously promoting the songs of the musicians they collaborate with.
The latest release on the NFT platform, MANGATA, features 5 dancers in a swim-like dance choreographed by WREIKO. The NFT was created by Zabu, a pioneer of NewStyle Hustle dance in Japan.
Dancers on the Blockchain
In his NFT NYC presentation, Matt Steffanina discusses the lack of ease to license choreography in the entertainment industry.
He is currently working on a project to teach Web3 “how to dance”. He believes that everybody should know how to dance as it greatly affects happiness and confidence. He himself learnt how to dance because he lacked confidence to take part in school dances at age 17.
In his presentation, he also discusses the concept of earning royalties as a dancer through moves that are replicated by others in the metaverse.
Dancevatar (Suzana Phialas), a performer and cross media artist of 16 years, has been an NFT artist since March 2021. Their creations can be recognised through their animated, robotic movements. A robot that has become sentient and is feeling for the first time.
Her most recent works investigate themes of contemporary society, digital culture, emerging digital technologies, open source and decentralized protocols, the NFT space and the Metaverse. She endeavors to continue pushing the boundaries and possibilities of art in the digital art space.
CRUX aka Tyspectives & MOVEmint
Crux, aka Tyspectives, is a pioneer consolidating the presence of dance on the blockchain. For Crux, dance is a means of alchemising darkness into light. She is easily recognisable from her powerful visuals that capture her elegant movement essence.
The radical dancer pushes the boundaries of dance and music through her journey in the Web3 space. She minted her first NFT in September ‘21 after 5 months of learning about Web3 on Clubhouse and in Twitter spaces. Since the launch of her first NFT, she has wowed and dominated the Web3 dance space.
The powerhouse is also the founder of Forbidden Fruit, an arts organisation dedicated to performance, healing and wellness. Through the organisation she has curated an immersive dance experience titled “moveMINT”–the first of its kind in blockchain.
Their movement makes use of geometric form and explores the concept of human connection.
Pushing the limits
In terms of platforms, dance on the blockchain is still largely untapped. Despite this, it is clear that there is a growing demand for this platforms–especially those with innovative tools that push the boundaries of dance.
Dance on the blockchain gives us a perspective on how the limits of technology will be pushed in the years to come. Dance on the blockchain makes it possible for us to transcend the mundane, limited movements of avatars in the metaverse. It enables us to pay homage to our favourite dancers and simplifies compensating them.
Dance is the number one source of inspiration and entertainment on social media right now, it is crucial that we build supportive infrastructure that makes it possible for dancers to continue choreographing. Through creating a greater opportunity for dancers to participate in the financial economy, a healthier economy is formed.