When I was a child, I loved dolls. Marketers often seem to assume that girls only play with dolls in particular ways: pretending to be adult women, getting married or going shopping. This was never on the agenda for me. I used my dolls to act out stories, and since I only made up stories about children, I preferred dolls that looked like children. I also preferred articulated dolls, with lots of joints in their limbs. For these reasons, I used Fisher Price Loving Family dolls, Kelly dolls, Stacie dolls and Lego Belville dolls to act out tales of superheroes, pirates, witches and princesses.

These memories of playing with dolls in childhood made me take notice of a viral video of a 2015 dance performance by Dytto. Born in 1998, Dytto is a female dancer who grew up in Atlanta. As a child, Dytto excelled in gymnastics, cheerleading and dance as well as academics. In her adult dance career, she specializes in a hip-hop style called tutting. Tutting is a dance style which originated in early 1980s funk dance. It involves using the body to creating geometric shapes in time to musical rhythm. Tutting takes its name from the Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s contemporary nickname, “King Tut.” This is because Ancient Egyptian art often shows figures holding their arms at right angles from their bodies.

Dytto’s most famous performance to date is her Barbie Girl dance at World of Dance Bay Area in 2015. It is a tutting routine set to a Trap remix of Aqua’s 1997 song Barbie Girl. In the video, the dance begins with Dytto making smaller movements with her head, arms and legs. These moves make her resemble an articulated doll being tested out by a child. As the routine continues, the moves become more ambitious and complex, as though the child is eager to discover what the doll is capable of. Dytto also lip-syncs to the song with exaggerated facial expressions, like a child mimicking the performers in a music video.
Dytto’s dance is a spectacular tribute to girl culture. It uses an intricate dance style to evoke the common childhood experience of using a doll to test the boundaries of not only the physical, but the imaginary.

-Emily Chandler
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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