A six-year-old boy taught himself how to dance by watching videos on TikTok and Youtube. Now he’s making his ballet debut by starring in the Wilmington Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.”
LJ was discovered in September after Miss Delaware, Sophie Phillips, saw him dancing at a community cleanup event. She recorded him dancing and told NBC10 that she assumed he had been through formal training.
“He told me he had never had dance lessons, never had a teacher before,” Phillips told NBC10.
She posted the video of LJ on her social media and tagged individuals she knew were involved in the dance community. Soon after, LJ received an offer to be a scholarship student at Wilmington Ballet and also got a role in their production of “The Nutcracker” this year.
As younger children gain more access to various social media platforms, such as video platforms, they can learn new skills that they might not have seen anywhere else.
For LJ, that skill was dance.
“I watched the video and then I fell in love,” he said with a smile on his face.
According to research, access to the internet has become the norm for children in recent years. For many, this includes the use of various social media apps such as TikTok and Youtube.
Although TikTok requires its users to be 13 years or older, many young children still find ways to watch videos on the app. With an estimated 80 million monthly users in the United States alone, In some instances, like with LJ, the creative side of TikTok allows young children to learn new skills or find new hobbies they never thought about pursuing.
In July, TikTok disclosed in internal documents reviewed by The New York Times that about one-third of their daily users are 14 years or younger. However, TikTok does allow users under 13 to use a version of the app that does not give them access to publishing content or sharing personal information.
While there are obvious dangers for young children utilizing social media, when it’s done safely, children can find themselves picking up on new hobbies that encourage creativity. Others have also credited social media, TikTok in particular, with sparking a new interest in dance.
Benjamin Sterling Cannon, the head of Wilmington Ballet, said that LJ has a specific love of moving and dancing.
“That is the number one thing you need to be a great dancer,” he told NBC10. “You have to love it.”
Cannon said it’s a dream to have someone in the studio that grew up in the same neighborhood and looks like him.
Newsweek reached out to the Wilmington Ballet but did not hear back in time for publication.