Carlton Banks' Dance

Carlton Banks' Dance

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Updated Feb 20, 2019 at 07:50AM EST by andcallmeshirley.

Added Dec 18, 2018 at 10:39AM EST by Matt.

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Carlton Banks' Dance, also known as "The Carlton" and Carlton Dance, is a comedic dance routine performed by Alfonso Ribeiro on the television series The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The dance features Ribeiro as the character Carton Banks gyrating his arms and hips while moving his knees back and forth and is meant to satirize poor dancing for humorous effect.


The dance premiered on the season two episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air "Christmas Show," which aired on December 16th, 1992.[1] The dance became a recurring joke on the series, growing into one of the most popular and iconic routines, which various guest stars and characters joined in on with Carlton (portrayed by Alfonso Ribeiro).

On August 16th, 2006 YouTuber Cridiron posted a clip of the dance on YouTube. Within 12 years, the post has received more than 19 million views (shown below).


On April 23rd, 2012, Ribeiro led a flash mob of hundreds performing the dance. TMZ uploaded a video of the performance, which received more than 1 million views in seven years.

On October 6th, 2014, as a contestant on the television competition series Dancing With the Stars, Ribeiro performed The Carlton with his partner, Whitney Carson. The following day, Youtuber HopMedia posted a video of the performance. The post received more than 20 million views (shown below, left). Of the performance, Ribeiro said, "I love the Carlton dance. I love how it makes people feel. I certainly don't do it a lot. But I love the fact that people have this nostalgic look at that dance. … This was all for the fans."[2]

Later that week, Ribeiro appeared on the daytime interview series The Real, where he discussed the dance. The video of the interview received more than 600,000 views in less than five years (shown below, right).

The following year, in March 2015, Ribeiro joined Fresh Prince-star Will Smith on The Graham Norton Show to perform the dance (shown below).

Fortnite Lawsuit

On January 2nd, 2018, the video game Fortnite released the "Fresh emote", a celebratory dance characters in the game perform. On February 2nd, 2018, YouTuber Fornite Guides released a video entitled "Fortnite Carlton Dance Music VS Fresh Emote Song 1 Half Hour Synced Comparison." The post received more than 36,000 views in one year (shown below).

On December 17th, 2018, Riberio filed a lawsuit against Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite for misappropriating Ribeiro's likeness and intellectual property in the game.[3] The actor's lawyer said, It is widely recognized that Mr. Ribeiro’s likeness and intellectual property have been misappropriated by Epic Games in the most popular video game currently in the world, Fortnite […] Epic has earned record profits off of downloadable content in the game, including emotes like 'Fresh.' Yet Epic has failed to compensate or even ask permission from Mr. Ribeiro for the use of his likeness and iconic intellectual property."

Additionally, that day, Riberio filed suit against 2K Games for including the dance in the sports video game NBA 2K.

On February 14th, 2019, Saskia Florence, a supervisory registration specialist in the U.S. Copyright Office Performing Arts Division wrote to Riberio's attorney, informing him that they would not be registering the dance for copyright, calling the "Carlton" a "simple dance routine" and not a "choreographic work."[4]

They write, "The dancer sways their hips as they step from side to side while swinging their arms in an exaggerated manner. In the second dance step, the dancer takes two steps to each side while opening and closing their legs and their arms in unison. In the final step, the dancer's feet are still and they lower one hand from above their head to the middle of their chest while fluttering their fingers. The combination of these three dance steps is a simple routine that is not registrable as a choreographic work."

The decision sparked a conversation on whether dance moves could be copyrighted (examples below). Twitter[5] published a Moments page on the discussion. Additionally, several media outlets covered the story, including The Hollywood Reporter,[6] Mashable [7] and more.

American Bar Association @ABAeso The Copyright Office has refused registration for the only dance move the ABA Social Media Team can reliably perform: Copyright Office Refuses Registration for 'Fresh Prince' Star Alfonso Ribeiro'... A government examiner also questioned the submission of the actor's performance on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," pointing to internet research about celebrity 10:18 AM-14 Feb 2019 In cases like these, I really just admire the people who have to describe dance moves in words. I can't even figure where to begin. Copyright Office Refuses Registration for 'Fresh Prince' Star Alfonso Ribeiro's "Carlton Dance" via @thr Copyright Office Refuses Registration for 'Fresh Prince' Star Alfonso. A government examiner also questioned the submission of the actor's performance on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," pointing to internet 10:50 AM-14 Feb 2019

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