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Charli D'Amelio Tackles DWTS

The social media star’s groundbreaking dance expressing her battle with anxiety.

By Caroline Kawabe

Graphic by Stephanie Liu

If you’re on TikTok, then you likely know Charli D’Amelio. One of the most followed and popular creators on the platform, D’Amelio rose to fame amidst the COVID-19 pandemic with her popular TikTok dance trends and friendly demeanor. By March 2020, D’Amelio had become the most followed person on TikTok. She went from being a fifteen-year-old girl from Connecticut making silly dance videos with her sister, to becoming the face of Gen Z essentially overnight. Gaining that much fame so quickly is tough for anyone to handle, let alone a girl so young.

Following her rise to stardom, D’Amelio often became the center of media attention and TikTok drama. Headlines and rumors were constantly circulating the internet, and the teen soon became no stranger to online trolls. The chaos of moving away from her hometown friends and community, in conjunction with the new amount of fame D’Amelio had accumulated, resulted in an overwhelming amount of stress on the teen. She had always considered herself to be a rather shy girl, so this mass attention caused her anxiety to intensify. The added pressure of forcing herself to create content to maintain a following also resulted in a loss of natural love for dancing. The TikTok star disclosed on her show The D’Amelio Show that she had since taken a break from dancing.

D’Amelio opened up about her struggle with anxiety and losing her passion recently on Dancing with the Stars. D’Amelio competed in the latest season with her partner Mark Ballas, who disclosed he had taken his five-year hiatus from the show for similar reasons to D’Amelio. The couple went on to win the Mirrorball trophy after a series of showstopping routines, expressing a new side of vulnerability from the social media star that made the audience and judges alike truly fall in love with the pair.

During Week 5 of Dancing with the Stars, the pair was tasked with dancing in the Contemporary style. D’Amelio shared the story of her battle with anxiety and how, this year, she finally felt as though she was overcoming her anxieties and coming into herself. Ballas then choreographed a dance that told her story, and exemplified what it feels like to battle anxiety and intrusive thoughts. D’Amelio was dressed in a beautiful white dress, hair pulled back to perfection, with Ballas looking eerie and disheveled with tattered clothes covered in black paint. Everytime they made contact, more and more black paint stained D’Amelio’s white dress. By the end of the dance, they were able to demonstrate her fierce battle and eventual triumph in their dance, to a rendition of “When the Party’s Over” by Billie Eilish. Beautifully performed and crafted, the dance received a 39/40 from the judges, and brought the audience to tears.

By the last week of the show, the pair revealed that they had helped each other both fall back in love with dance. Naturally, their freestyle reflected these emotions in a beautiful demonstration of all the highs, lows, and in-betweens dance can express, and received a perfect score from the judges with a standing ovation from the audience. Their partnership truly served them well and allowed for stories and messages to be told in a beautiful and expressive manner.

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