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where it all started

The Evolution of Dance

The Evolution of “The Evolution of Dance” – a brief history of the first YouTube viral video.


I created “The Evolution of Dance” to differentiate myself. I started speaking in late 1999 and quickly recognized the need to have something that would set me apart from other speakers and trainers. My own philosophical outlooks already lent themselves to embracing the way the world constantly changes and I wanted a performance piece that reflected that. I created the “The Evolution of Dance” to highlight that things are always changing. Neither good nor bad, the world never stops changing.

The first conceptual idea came to me in the fall of 2000, but I didn’t create the first iteration until March 2001. The first time I ever performed it was March 17th, 2001. EOD was 2:30 long and had 12 songs in it. Unfortunately for preservation but fortunately for embarrassment’s sake I don’t have the footage from that performance as I recorded over the HI8 digital tape (well – I didn’t know I’d become viral video famous). Fast forward 5 years and well over 500 performances later we arrive in 2006 when the routine was 30 songs and 6:00 in length.

At the request of some students from a high school in Connecticut who asked that I post a video of the full dance routine to my Myspace page I went online and found the easiest website for upload video and getting an embedding code for Myspace. That site was YouTube. The post date is April 6th 2006 and I picked footage that was the cleanest both video and audio wise which had me performing in an Orange Crush T-Shirt. I uploaded it, copy and pasted the code into MySpace and closed up my computer.

I won’t go into all the details but essential 4-5 weeks later I start getting notifications via YouTube that someone liked my video, made a comment, or sent me a message. At first, I thought it was cool, maybe I’ll get a speaking gig out of it. I really didn’t think much of it (it was 2006 – DSL was just finally starting to be available to larger areas of the county, sharing let along “posting” videos wasn’t really a thing yet, and “going viral” meant you were getting people sick) so went about my life for a few more days.

It was the 2nd week of May 2006 when I realized things were a little different than anything I’d ever experienced. The video had gone from 30k views to 750k views in about 10 days’ time, I received lots of inquiries for speaking, and YouTube reached out to say thanks and let me know that The Today Show was trying to get in touch with me. From there it was a whirlwind of TV appearances, amazing performance opportunities (including the Saturday Night Live Stage and 30 Rock Plaza, the Ryman Theatre, Madison Square Garden, halftime at the NBA Finals, and so much more), and countless dance, prom, bar-mitzvah request. I took over the top spot as the most viewed video on YouTube and held that spot for a little over three years and even was awarded the Guinness Book of World Record 2012 for “Most Liked YouTube Video”.

No one could have predicted the video would do what it did when it did. It’s been over 15 years (almost 17 as I write this) which in internet years is like 1,000. I’m so fortunate that my video came out when it did and helped expand my impact as a speaker. Currently as of spring 2024 the video has around 320 million views and I still go look at the comments now and then (and feel old when someone says – I wasn’t alive when this came out!).

The current version of the dance is just under 8:00 and contains most of the original (minus a few things including the worm….my knees!) along with the last two decades of popular song/moves.