The Truth About Jalaiah Harmon
In 2019, 15-year-old Jalaiah Harmon choreographed one of the most viral dance routines the internet has ever seen. Lizzo and Alex Rodriguez had a go at the Renegade. Kourtney Kardashian even turned her hand to the routine. However, Vox reported that, as Harmon’s moves were replicated across Instagram and TikTok, many people did not know who originally came up with the trend. Since The New York Times profiled her in 2020, however, her life has changed. But did you know that Harmon initially choreographed the moves that have made her famous just for fun? Her fight to get recognized, on the other hand, has been long and arduous.
“I’m formally trained so I just found a song and I created moves to go with the beats and the words. I used to make dances all the time. I still do. So it was just normal for me,” Harmon told Variety in 2020. “It was just another dance that I had created one day. But I didn’t know it was going to go viral.” Teen Vogue outlined that Harmon posted the dance on Instagram before going to dance practice. A few months later, it had been picked up and adapted by some of the most well-known TikTok dancers around. She told the publication, “I was excited and frustrated because they weren’t tagging me or giving me credit.” But the artist has since made her talents known.
Jalaiah Harmon's getting the recognition she deserves
After big-name creators started to replicate her dance, Jalaiah Harmon explained to Variety that she tried to make it known that she was the original choreographer. In February 2020, The New York Times profiled her, helping Harmon gain the recognition she deserved. In the piece, she said, “I think I could have gotten money for it, promos for it, I could have gotten famous off it, get noticed. I don’t think any of that stuff has happened for me because no one knows I made the dance.”
However, once the piece was published, people started to recognize Harmon’s work. Seventeen explains that creators like Charlie D’Amelio and Addison Ray credited her for the original choreography. Teen Vogue also outlines that in the weeks after Harmon was invited to perform on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and at the NBA All-Star game. She was listed on Forbes “30 under 30” list, with the publication stating what happened “shone a spotlight on the disconnect between white influencers and their minority peers while catapulting the mononymous Jalaiah to stardom.”
Harmon has taken her moves from social media to music videos, as The Verge reported that, in August 2020, musician Sufjan Stevens teamed up with the Atlanta teen for his new music video for “Video Game.” He told Vulture that he’s “truly inspired by her.” And Harmon’s got some other fans in pretty high places. She can count Michelle Obama as an admirer. Harmon told Variety, “[Obama] tweeted the NBA All-Stars video.”
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