How many times has the art of dance been stolen from a woman who doesn’t fit the mold of a “dancer’s body”?
For example, when I was first researching this story, my colleague piped up to say she dreamed of being a dancer but her mom said no to lessons, because her legs weren’t long and lean enough as a young girl. Dancing comes packaged with an insanely toxic body-shaming culture that breeds a lack of confidence in girls before their bodies are even fully formed.
One young dancer in New York got sick of the shame because all she wanted to do was dance, and so she did something about it.
Pretty BIG Movement (PBM) is a new dance company based in New York City committed to disrupting the idea of what a “dancer’s body” is supposed to look like. Founder Akira Armstrong was such an incredible dancer that she was part of Beyoncés crew but couldn’t find a single agent to represent her, because of her size. Ridiculous.
Armstrong set out to prove that all women can be professional dancers. Pretty Big Movement is the first international full-figured dance company specializing in Hip Hop, Jazz, Afro, and contemporary styles of dance.
Clearly, Akira has hit her stride.
“I wanted to wear my stomach out. I have never been able to wear my stomach out,” Armstong told The Scene.
While auditioning for Full-Figured Fashion Week, Armstrong noticed that she was surrounded by confident, beautiful and curvaceous women — many of whom shared the same passion for dance. Full-Figured Fashion Week (editor’s note: may we suggest a rebrand? This is a horribly offensive name) was the launchpad for Pretty BIG Movement and Armstrong’s mission to destroy dancer stereotypes.
“When people think of the stereotypical dancer’s body, they think very thin, tall, long legs, long arms,” said Armstrong. “Growing up in a dance environment, I did feel like my body was a negative … People look at you and judge you based on your size … without even giving you a chance to really prove yourself.”
Pretty BIG Movement offers no-judgement dance workshops across the United States while we’re just over here in Canada waiting for our turn.