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‘Evolution’ Dancer Choreographs A Football Version For ESPN

Judson Laipply became as big of an Internet sensation as one could become.

His 2006 YouTube posting of “The Evolution of Dance” has been seen by more than 177 million people.

That led to a second version, "The Evolution of Dance 2," which also proved to be a hit.

On Monday, Laipply took it a step further as ESPN, and its ad firm Wieden + Kennedy, commissioned him to do “The Evolution Of The Touchdown Dance.”


If there’s ever a time to launch a viral video like this, now is the time, as fans can finally get excited about a football season.

The dance medley, which aggregates 23 touchdown dances including moves by Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, hit ESPN’s Facebook page and YouTube just minutes after NFL players agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement on Monday.

“The idea started by thinking about how we should celebrate a return to football,” said Kevin Kirksey, ESPN’s senior director of marketing. “Judson was a perfect partner to work with.”

ESPN & Wieden + Kennedy started with a list of famous touchdown dances and pared it down to the ones that Laippley would eventually perform. Kirksey said the idea was to include the dances that would be instantly recognizable but also some obscure ones.

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“Fans love to spend time figuring things out,” Kirksey said.

When the list was finalized, a music track was written and Laippley practiced for what he says worked out to be about 50 hours. He flew up to New York City last week and recorded the video on one take.

While viral video fame has clearly changed Laippley’s life, his story doesn’t follow the formula of a career change from that big moment.

Laippley was performing “The Evolution of Dance” since 2001 as part of his act as an inspirational comedian.

A friend, he says, told him that as a motivational speaker, he had to do something different.

“Almost all motivational speakers fall under the same traditional umbrella,” Laippley said. “I’ve found that it helps to be entertaining and produce good content otherwise what you do won’t register with many people in the audience.”



Laippley, who never took a dance class in his life, said “The Evolution of Dance” video gave his career a “10- to 15-year boost.” It has helped him score more corporate gigs, and at a higher price (roughly $10,000 per appearance).

“I think people are going to really enjoy it,” Laippley said. “I also think it will anger some people. Fans will debate over what we did or didn’t include.”

The dance medley is part of ESPN’s current campaign that ends with “It’s Not Crazy, It’s Sports.”

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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