Erik Cavanaugh is a former student at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. You’ve seen Cavanaugh’s improvised solos to songs such as “Eye of the
Needle,” by Sia, and Rachel Platten’s “Stand by You.”
“The day after my birthday I got a notification that the account @worldwidedance
started following me on Instagram. I thought, Hey, that’s cool. Maybe 20 minutes later, everything was
blowing up. Hundreds and hundreds of likes and new followers. I thought, What just happened?
“By that night, my video had already been viewed more than 100,000 times on Worldwidedance’s
Facebook page. The New York Post messaged me asking if they could run a video of me, and what was
I going to say? No? They ran it the next morning and the Facebook video broke 1 million views—then 2,
then 3…Now it’s at, like, 10. 8 million views. Someone shared a GIF of me dancing on Reddit and it made
it to second from the top on the front page. Forbes magazine messaged me. People magazine and The
Huffington Post reached out. I was on the website for the ‘Today’ show and on mic.com. The Radio City
Rockettes named me ‘Dancer of the Week’ on their blog. The New York Post flew me out to New York
for a live segment, which was fun. I said ‘yes’ to all of it.
“I’m very happy that this happened. It helped me gain confidence about who I am. I think people
Zachary Whittenburg is a frequent contributor to Dance Magazine.
are opening their eyes a bit more that dance is not just for a slimmer body type or a certain aesthetic,
and I think I’m helping move that conversation to a better place. I didn’t always have the courage
to keep going through discouragement in my younger days, and I’d love to be able to give
that to people. I’d love to give a TED Talk, or go on ‘Ellen,’ or ‘The Late Show.’ I’m willing to
do whatever—even ‘The View.’
“If you are fortunate enough to go viral or to get recognized for your talents, don’t shy
away from it. Take everything that comes your way. The internet can be scary, but it can also
be very loving.” n
Sydney Skybetter is a faculty member at Brown University, where he researches emerging
choreographic and information technologies.
If there’s a
video of you online,
it can be turned into
a GIF by anyone, and
you will have as much
control over that GIF
as you have over your
image anywhere else
online—which is to say,
shows have teams of
scouts that look for
people and trending
topics to cover. Make it
easy for people to find
and contact you.
shape for a dancer.