A lot of the time I get asked ‘what’s your story’ or ‘can you tell us about your journey’ and as difficult as it is to sometimes be able to summarise 25 years of your life, doing this has really helped me to understand why I do what I do and why it’s so important to me.
Growing up I would say my experience training as a young competitive dancer was extremely positive. I’m someone who didn’t take their size into consideration. I was never teased about my size or made to feel any different. It wasn’t until I was a bit older and became a bit more exposed to the dance industry that I realised – I don’t see anyone that looks like me.
Where were the black girls with curves?
I don’t mean that they didn’t exist at all, but I’d only see them when a theme matched their size which made me think, ‘Oh god. Am I going to spend my whole career being type-casted in this industry?’
As I moved to London in 2015 to study Urban Dance at The University of East London, I was exposed to so much. Both good and bad but one huge eyeopener came whilst I completed my University dissertation. I researched ‘Female Empowerment in the UK Hip Hop Scene’.
I became to realise that not only would my size have an impact on my career… so would being a female. A Black female - in this male dominated art form. But as a strong willed and stubborn Taurean women, this was never going to stop me. If anything, it made me hungry to fight for more to have a presence in this industry, empowering more women like me.
As I built up my network of colleagues, friends, students, and fellow crew members in London – I had many conversations about how dance made them feel.
The amount of people who had lost their love for dance or were too afraid to fall in love with dance (due to feeling like their size/body wasn’t meant for it) was INSANE. I wasn’t shocked by them also feeling like there wasn’t enough representation because of course I felt the same but I felt disgusted at how teachers and leaders in the spaces that they had participated (or tried to participate) in dance made them feel.
I felt like I was saying the following to a most of them on a daily basis – “Forget dance choreography and think to how you feel when you’re out with friends or family and a song that you all love comes on and you’re all singing and dancing and living your best life. How good does that feel in the moment?! THAT IS HOW I WANT YOU TO FEEL IN MY CLASS! Because in that moment, does your size matter? No. You’re jumping around or whining up your waist without a care in the world. That is what you call enJOYment.”
So I founded Empowered Movement. A creative company that specialises in using dance as a tool for empowerment. When it comes to Empowered Movement, first and foremost I invite you to come and live your best life – in a fun, judgement-free, safe space. I guarantee you will leave my class with a smile on your face.
For me, as a dancer whose background is professional and competitive dance, it’s important for me to bridge the gap between professional dancer and those that want to dance for fun! We can definitely all co-exist in one space!
DANCE AND MOVEMENT IS FOR everyBODY.
As I say, it’s hard to summarise why I do what I do and why it’s so important to me because I could go on about this for days but if what we’re doing over at Empowered Movement interests you – don’t be a stranger! Follow our journey and don’t be afraid to say hi!
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/empowered.movement_/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/EmpoweredxMovement
Website – www.empoweredmovement.uk
And finally, as black business owner celebrating Black History Month – we’re hosting a collaborative event with another black owned business – Poetic Consience to bring you ‘FEELING FIRST’.
Join us for a day of workshops that have been designed to celebrate self, freedom of expressionism and positive energy with a focus of putting your FEELINGs FIRST. Delve into this hybrid safe space where we will explore the power of movement and spoken word combined. Join us on Saturday 23rd of October at @universityofeastlondon (USS Campus in Stratford, London) ✨OPEN TO ALL: 11AM-1PM (9-15YRS), 2PM-4PM (16-ADULTS) ✨Sign up here: www.empoweredmovement.uk/book-online ✨LIMITED EARLY BIRD TICKETS AVAILABLE, use code ‘FEELINGEARLY’ for £5 off. ✨everyBODY’s welcome