What does the phrase "Body Positive" mean to you?
It means embracing one's body in whatever form it takes and finding beauty the variability of physical appearances. (Plus, resisting the urge to associate personal self-worth with the unreasonable standards commonly found in the media.)
Why is performing important to you?
Performing is one of the main ways I find balance in my life. My sassy and extroverted stage persona balances out my introverted, to the point of being misanthropic, off stage personality. As a Dark Fusion dancer, performing allows me to express and embrace all of those emotions society views as "negative". Thus, performing gives me an outlet for my "dark" side and provides a balance to the more socially acceptable "light" side usually found in my interactions with others.
What was it about your chosen art form that drew you?
I have loved to dance since I was a small child, but was not physically built for being a classical dancer. When I found belly dance as an adult, it reawakened my passion for dance while allowing me to develop my personal style to fit my body and my artistic needs. My large, inflexible, curvy frame stopped being a detriment and became the source of my power. Within the world of belly dance, my personal sensibilities and need for unstructured self-expression led me to Dark Fusion. In short, dance has become my version of therapy.
What has your journey to body positivity been like?
My quest to love and accept my body has been a constant uphill battle, and I'm still fighting it each and every day. Belly dance has been a huge part of my journey. There is nothing so wonderful as putting your body out there in a performance or even class setting, and then getting so much love and positivity from friends, family, students, teachers, and even random members of the audience. That said, I can walk out on stage and dance with total confidence, but if I watch a video afterward my ingrained response is to judge myself as "fat" and "ugly". It's getting better little by little, but I still have a long way to go.
What, if any, impression(s) do you hope your audience walks away from your performances with?
My only real hope is that my audience will be entertained for a few fleeting moments. If my art speaks to them on a deeper level I'm ecstatic, but mostly I just don't want to be boring. One of the best things that audience members occasionally walk away with is an altered perception of the physical characteristics of a dancer. I REALLY don't look like the average Fusion dancer, so if I can break that stereotype for someone I am thrilled. Curvy women have told me that they didn't think they could be Fusion dancers, but I proved them wrong.
What do you want people to know about your story as it relates to participating in this project?
Life is Art! All we can do is embrace the materials we are given and create something beautiful. My personal adventure has been learning to love my body, because in the world of dance it is my greatest resource.