RIDY’S RHYTHM

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Movement Choreographer and Performing Dance Artist, Ridy Sheikh shares her take on content creation and the creator economy.


 

Please tell us the story of how you got into content creation and the journey so far.

I entered the realm of content creation quite unusually and unexpectedly. In 2007, my mom opened a YouTube channel, which I use even today, and started publishing videos of my stage performances in Moscow. I started getting known for representing South Asian culture in Russia and CIS countries, and also gained appreciation from the Bangladeshi diaspora in Europe and Russia. Just like that, by becoming one of the few dance YouTubers in Moscow, I unknowingly stepped into ‘content creation’, long before this term even existed.

After I came to Bangladesh, I observed the local content creation boom, which inspired me to focus on making dance content consistently. My breakthrough moment came when I uploaded a dance cover of ‘Kala Chashma’ in 2016, which marked the acceptance of my content on a larger scale. The video was shared worldwide and gained a few million views in a very short time. Later, I was even approached by Zee Music India for making content with their newly released tracks.

In 2018 I made a dance video to a Bangla track ‘Fagunero Mohonay’, which has over 110 million views as of today. I was one of the first few independent Bangladeshi females in the entertainment sector who pursued content-making for social media which is a matter of pride for me.

Some monetisation challenges arose, mainly due to copyright issues, but I also came across opportunities for brand collaborations, which eventually became a significant revenue stream, transforming my passion into a viable career.

 

How have you managed and maintained the growth and expansion of your follower base?

Building and engaging with my audience is central to my approach. I prioritise consistency across all my social media platforms – Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube, and value authenticity in all my audience interactions. I engage with my audience by staying true to my identity, and by mastering what I’m good at — dance. Over the years, through regular dance content, free dance tutorials, dance challenges, and audience interactions, my fans and I have built a strong and loyal community.

I am receptive to all feedback, even negative; feedback fuels my growth. I attribute my success and substantial social media following to my genuine pursuit of positivity and appreciation rather than increasing follower counts or earning money. The goal has always been to authentically connect with my audience, which has defined my identity as a creative both online and offline.

 

Have the influence and success of your content opened doors to new opportunities, or have they invited unexpected challenges?

There have been some amazing opportunities, like brand endorsements, merchandising, and collaborations. A highlight for me was being invited to Dance Plus, India, after my social media content gained recognition. My journey has also led me to establish a dance school in Dhaka which has over 70 active students at the moment, and my own clothing brand, Gemini by Ridy Sheikh, expanding my personal brand into a thriving business.

On the flip side, every creator encounters challenges. We get creative blocks and sometimes we burn out. It requires a lot of patience and self-discipline to navigate through these challenges. Also, while I have to maintain an online presence to showcase my work, I am mindful of striking a balance to ensure that it is my professional achievements that take centre stage. I prioritise being known for my talent and perseverance, and only offer glimpses into my ordinary, day-to-day life when appropriate. I believe it is crucial for every creator on social media to maintain a distinction between a public image and a personal life.

 

From your perspective, what factors are most likely to shape the creator economy over the coming years?

The future of the creator economy is likely to be influenced by new media formats, emerging technologies and evolving audience preferences. Social media is continuously growing and presenting new avenues for talent showcase, with diverse platforms bringing creators in South Asia into the limelight. As the competition rises, creators must be ready to be adaptable to quick changes, while always prioritising high-quality and consistent content making. It is not necessary to follow all the trends on social media, but be aware of them in case they suit creators’ profiles and use them for organic growth. For instance, the focus now should be on dynamic content rather than static, and most content should be optimised for viewing in vertical mode – I’m mainly referring to Facebook or Instagram reels, YouTube shorts or TikTok content. Over time, advancements in technology will bring in more opportunities, shaping a dynamic content creators’ market in Bangladesh.

 

Photograph by Anastasia Barei

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