In honor of Women’s History Month, we sat down with the amazing Melissa Becraft to find out more about her journey as a dancer and about the amazing women that inspired her to take a leap of faith. You’ll never believe how she first went viral on TikTok with her stunning choreography!
Melissa Becraft is a dancer and content creator who specializes in making videos inspired by music, movies, decades, and more. She moved to New York City at 18 years old to pursue a career in dance and has been able to do just that! She is the captain of the Brooklynettes and has over a million followers on social media where she creates stunning dance videos.
Tell us about your journey as a dancer…Who inspired you? How old were you when you started out?
I actually grew up playing sports. I was big into swimming and soccer, and I didn’t start dancing until I was 12 or 13 and if you know anything about dancing it’s actually a pretty late age to start. But I quickly fell in love and I chose to try it because I always loved music and I was always an athlete growing up so it was a new type of challenge for me. But I quickly decided it was something that I wanted to pursue. And at the time, So You Think You Can Dance was huge!
There wasn’t really social media how it is today. So dancers that really inspired me were ones on that show like Alison Holker was a big reason that I kept dancing, Kathryn McCormick, those dancers were everything to me. They were an example of being able to work in the industry, and if you didn’t know I grew up in a small town in the south and doing something in the arts didn’t really seem like a possibility to me so they were an example for me that you can totally do it!
What have been some of your favorite moments in your career? You’ve had quite an amazing last couple of years especially!
My career has not always been so lovely and wonderful as any sort of artist or performer can tell you but this year will actually be a decade of me trying to be a working dancer in the city, which is pretty big! When I first came here I wasn’t booking anything, so I would say the big moment for me was when I booked my first dance job doing the launch for Primark, the clothing brand for the USA in Philly.
And then probably the biggest moment of my career was making the Brooklynettes Dance Team, which is my steady job right now, that’s where I dance most of the time. And that was a huge tipping point for me because it gave me not only confidence to keep pursuing dance but also a place to be training all the time, a team of women who are supporting me all the time, and just opportunity and exposure. And I also signed with an agent because I was scouted at that audition, so those were probably like my big early moments.
And then from there…3 years later signing with Wilhelmina, which was a huge goal of mine, then the pandemic happened. And I would say topping all those big moments, and those were still pinnacle moments and they got me to where I am today but starting my social media page and deciding to go full force for it. TikTok is the biggest, it’s not just one moment because it continues to grow and change but I would say getting the Brooklynettes and getting my first viral video on Tik Tok were my biggest ‘I think I can do this’ kind of moments. Oh and another one was I booked the VMAs this past year, I got to dance with BlackPink, which was something I wanted to do when I was 18 and thought it was gonna be so easy to do that and 10 years later I just did it.
What is your favorite video you’ve created for TikTok? I’m sure there’s not one but what are some of your favorites?
It’s so interesting because my favorite video might not be one that went super super viral because you never know how it’s gonna be perceived on the internet. My first rain dance video, the flashdance to maniac, is very dear to me just because that was like a very free moment for me and I didn’t even think too much about it and just did it and it ended up very well perceived so that’s a favorite one I created.
That alongside a rain dance mashup that my sister Jenny helped me film, we combined all different rain dances I did for a mash up and that was so much fun because it was one of the first full production videos I did where we really brought in things like the bucket to dump and the chair and the umbrella. It felt like a full production but it was cool to bring my first viral video that I loved and then make something really cool out of it.
Have you noticed with your content creation that you have started to inspire younger artists and younger dancers that follow you on your platform? And has that kind of inspired you as well?
Yes, that's my main ‘why’ honestly and I could talk a lot about this but the dancers I mentioned I saw on tv were my “oh I could do this”, they’re an example of that. I keep my page very family friendly, like I don’t use explicit music for the reason that I want everyone to be able to watch the videos that I make without parents worrying about what I put on my page.
The comments I get that are like, “oh my six year old loves you” or I get comments that are like, “Oh I quit dance but started up again because of you, you inspired me to do that” that is my why, because when I was younger I didn’t think I could do this and for some reason I chose to try and now that I did it, to be that example for a younger generation, I think it’s so important.
That’s one of my favorite things about social media too, I think because these creators are getting so big in the performing arts world. It’s bringing out a whole new generation of performers and I love that! The energy I get from just scrolling through tiktok and Instagram.
And it gives people the confidence to try it themselves too!
What is a special memory in your time as a dancer that you cherish?
I have lots…this type of career is a very emotional type of career, you know? I have really good memories with my teammates on the Brooklynettes throughout the years because the girls that I made the team with, we have come so far and grown so much and we got to watch each other kind of become women and become dancers and progress in our careers in really cool ways. But I just have really good memories.
When we go through hard times, to have girls there who are going through the same things as me when we get rejected or we don’t book a job and it’s just nice to have that. And I’ve been on the team for six seasons now, it’s something that’s always gonna be there and it’s nice to have people who can relate to what you’re going through and cheer you on.
I definitely think that’s something so universal in all performing arts. I have friends who are musical theater performers and they always talk about loving having people who “get it” and I think that’s so important.
Yes, because you can’t do this type of career by yourself, you just can’t. If you’re alone, you’re not gonna make it.
So you already gave us some women from like So You Think You Can Dance that inspired you, are there any other women that have inspired you? Not necessarily as a dancer but just in life.
One who is not so much a public figure, my boss, Criscia Long who is the entertainment director for the Brooklyn Nets. She really inspires me because she has such a vision for everything that we do and I get to see that firsthand since I’m the captain of the Brooklynettes, but she also sees individual potential in everyone and she wants people to have opportunity.
But it’s a really cool thing and I’ll give you a story about her. A bunch of dance teams were cutting their dance teams or making them co-ed, meaning men and women could be on the dance team, which is super cool! And our boss’s boss went to her and was like, “is this something we should consider doing?” and she stood up for us and said “no because then you’re taking opportunities away from women” and that’s a very short version of the story. I thought it was so cool because to have someone that’s willing to stand up and say this is an avenue for us and we should keep it, and it really inspires me to make sure that I’m doing that for women in my life as well.
But she really inspires me and the way that she’s climbed; she used to be an NBA dancer and now she’s entertainment director for Brooklyn Nets.
What is your go-to hype up songs for rehearsals, just dancing for fun or before performances?
Oh this is a good one. This might not be so hype for a lot of people but I’m a huge Florence and the Machine fan, like on my Spotify even if I don’t have service I have all her stuff downloaded. So that’s usually what I put on because she has such a range too. So if I need to focus I can choose one of her slower songs, if I need to hype up I can choose one of her percussion songs, but anything by Florence and the Machine, she’s my go to before I go do anything.
I love Florence and The Machine, I’m so excited for the new Gatsby musical!
Yay! So exciting!
Do you have anything coming up that we can put on our radar?
Oh something that’s very new for me is I’ve been working on my YouTube page, because I want to conduct more of my audience and share more of what it’s like to be a dancer in New York City and the industry because I can only connect so much through short form content and people know me as a dancer, but they don’t know me too much as a person. So I’m gonna be posting more speaking videos and things I can connect more with my community on YouTube. And also a cool thing is I’m working on a dancewear line that is going to come out soon.
I think it’s gonna be really cute and I think it’s gonna be something that dancers will really enjoy wearing to rehearsals and things like that. But otherwise I’m dancing at the Barclays Center until the season is over and we’ll see what happens from there!
Is there any adversity that you’ve experienced being a woman in the arts that you’ve had to overcome or anything you’ve kind of noticed in the industry that you wanna bring light to?
Any artist deals with rejection, I think that’s a big adversity almost with themselves and being able to get over the rejection. But myself as a woman, one of the hardest things for me, especially being a content creator now and utilizing the city to film is dealing with the safety of doing so.
I actually had a very scary experience one day when I was filming, I was attacked by someone who was a little bit crazy and that was a very traumatic experience and now I don’t go anywhere, film anywhere by myself. I always have somebody with me. That’s obviously a very unique thing to content creators but may be something that’s overlooked, you know if I was a man I don’t think I’d have to worry about that. But as a woman it’s something that I have to worry about, and it’s something I’m trying to do for my job and my career and it’s a shame I can’t just go out and do it without worrying about that.
Aside from what you do, what is your arts addiction?
So not related to dancing at all but I read fantasy novels, like pretty much exclusively fantasy novels and that’s something I love to do outside of dancing. And I also love to edit, I edit all my own videos and I really enjoy doing that as well. But I would say reading books and playing video games!
We loved chatting with Melissa and hearing about her inspirations and how she has become an inspiration herself. Make sure to check out her amazing content on TikTok and Instagram and make sure to subscribe to her YouTube for even more!
Written by: Jillian Hayes
RCA's Social Media Manager