When it comes to viral dancers who made their mark on TikTok, few names resonate as powerfully as Jalaiah Harmon. For Harmon dance isn’t just a series of movements but a profound expression of creativity.

“To me, dance is a feeling that I can’t not have. It’s something in me. Dance is my passion. I love to dance. It’s just a feel-good thing,” she said to 21Ninety.

This passion was evident from a young age. It was sparked by watching music videos from icons like Ciara and Missy Elliott, and growing up in a family that embraced dance as a pinnacle of joy.

Jalaiah’s journey took a significant turn in 2020 when her choreography for the “Renegade” dance went viral on TikTok. What started as a routine day for the young dancer, posting videos on Dubsmash, quickly spiraled into an internet phenomenon.

“So when I made the Renegade, that was just like a normal day for me. I used Dubsmash videos all the time and posted every day. I think it was just the dance that caught people’s eyes,” Harmon recalled.

However, as the dance became ubiquitous across social media, it was performed by countless influencers without acknowledging its creator.

Jalaiah Harmon: A Revolutionary in Her Own Right

The oversight reached a peak when popular TikTok stars were invited to perform the Renegade at high-profile events like the NBA All-Star Weekend, leaving Harmon, the originator, in the shadows.

“Of course, nobody knew I did it. So I had to speak up and tell people I did it,” she said.

The lack of credit was a frustrating experience. However, it ignited a movement for proper recognition of creators on TikTok, particularly for Black artists who have historically been overlooked. There was a push for proper crediting of original content creators.

“I feel like credit still is a big thing. Till this day there are some people who don’t get their credit for dances on TikTok. I’m gonna be honest, I forget sometimes too. At least I’ll go back or put it in the comments but the problem overall is still there. It’s a big thing now to give credit, especially to Black creators,” Harmon explained, highlighting the ongoing struggle for recognition.

Harmon’s influence on the app’s culture was transformative. Her story highlights the importance of crediting creators and sparked widespread support from the community.

“Having that support from the community showed me that people are really out here rooting for me and I’m not always by myself. There are people that see you and hear you. So it’s good to have that behind your back. It made me feel like I was somebody,” she reflected.

For the Love of Dance

Beyond the Renegade, Harmon’s love for dance remains the core of her identity. Growing up in Fayetteville, Georgia, she was immersed in a family that celebrated dance.

“My mom used to be a dancer, so it really comes from her. She’s always dancing. Even my grandma, my auntie… it’s really all my family. Even my friends, they inspire me all the time,” she shared.

Her passion for dance is also intertwined with her competitive spirit, a trait she honed through years of participating in sports like gymnastics and cheerleading. This passion was on full display at the Red Bull Dance Your Style national championships in Atlanta, where Harmon performed alongside other Atlanta viral dance creators. The event was a celebration of diverse street dance styles, and for Harmon, it was an opportunity to reconnect with her roots and showcase her growth as a dancer.

Reflecting on her upbringing in dance, she said, “When you really have a passion for something, it’s really good to have that.”

Oftentimes, however, that passion can fizzle leaving some feeling uninspired, which makes it hard to create. For aspiring creators, Harmon offered heartfelt advice which she learned on her own.

“Do what you do and love what you’re doing. But keep being consistent. Don’t pause or nothing. I get that we have them days sometimes, but consistency is key,” she explained.

Harmon’s journey from a young girl inspired by music videos to a pioneer of dance on TikTok simply shows the impact her career has had thus far. Her story is not just about a viral dance but about recognizing and crediting the creative minds behind the trends that shape the digital landscape. Harmon’s story of love and dance is a reminder that every dance, every move, and every creator deserves to be seen and celebrated.