Social media is generally seen as the realm of the young. Saratoga Springs teacher Josh Johnson is proving it can also be the realm of the young at heart.
Johnson, an English teacher at Saratoga Springs High School, has parlayed that youthful exuberance on social media into an appearance on the NBC show “Dancing With Myself,” with an episode airing on Tuesday, June 28. It has been a rocket ship from zero social media presence to videos being viewed millions of times for Johnson.
“Before Thanksgiving , all my social media was private,” said Johnson. “My friend told me I should do a dance video. I switched my Instagram to public and the first one went viral.” Viral is a bit of an understatement. Johnson’s first video was seen nearly five million times.
Johnson himself has no formal dance training. He grew up breakdancing in the 1980s, honed his craft on the wedding dance floors of his 20s and 30s, and shows off the occasional move as a chaperone at school dances. But social media gave him a new outlet to dance with videos, sometimes including his kids, that kept going viral, first on Instagram, then on TikTok.
It was right after Christmas in 2021 that Johnson was contacted by someone looking to cast people in “Dancing With Myself.” That started a stream of interviews with casting agents, producers, and NBC itself. Once he was cast, he was flown to Atlanta for a week in March where his episode was filmed.
Seeing Shakira as one of the judges was a highlight for Johnson. “She could say anything and I was like, “Wow, that’s amazing.”” The other two judges, Nick Jonas and Liza Koshy, were fantastic as well. “All of them were very down to earth, even when the cameras weren’t rolling.”
Johnson performed in front of a live studio audience in addition to the judges. He credits teaching teenagers every day with helping him control his nerves in those moments.
“The whole experience was just crazy,” Johnson exclaimed. “I don’t like the word surreal, but a different word that’s similar to that. Unfathomable.”
Given that he’s had a number of videos go viral now, some of Johnson’s students have had his content come across their social media feeds. “Some are super juiced about it, others play it cool,” he said, laughing. “But even the ones who think I’m super old and totally lame haven’t said it to me.” Johnson has had a few kids tell him that their parents have seen his videos before they have. He says his dances are very popular with moms.
While social media can be something fraught with danger, especially for educators, Johnson makes sure to keep all his content positive and dance-focused. He says he isn’t trying to be cool, just trying to put some good vibes into the world. People on Instagram and TikTok have messaged him saying his videos are a great way to start their day. “Just being able to make people smile is cool. I like that.”
“I’m lucky to be able to see things positively. The biggest thing about me as a teacher and me being a parent is being a role model, and this is an opportunity on a much bigger scale to model what I want to see in the world.”
“Dancing With Myself” airs on Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. on NBC after “America’s Got Talent.” Johnson’s dancing videos can be found on Instagram and TikTok @superawesomedadding.