When I first embarked on my vocation of professional dance and performance at the age of 17 I was immediately told to lose weight in fact it was implied at the audition. It would appear that in order to succeed I would have to have a different body? Until this I was blissfully unaware of my size and its effect on me as an athlete, I thought instead that having a muscular physique was a positive thing, I was fit and strong and ready to do any physical task at hand. Although I donned thunderous thighs I had not one piece of fat on my body in fact my BMI was right on point, so what was I to do? How could I become Skinny while remaining strong and effective?
We trained athletically for 40 hours per week ( I did that for 5 years straight, only missing two days of the entire time), we worked on ballet techniques including I.S.T.D, R.A.D, contemporary dance techniques including Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Release and Lemón, Jazz and Modern techniques Including I.S.T.D, Commercial Jazz and Matt Mattox. We focused on technique first and performance after so you can imagine that is was very hard on the body and the mind. We would Self critique in front of a mirror every day so my confidence pitifully drowned in a pool of my hard earned sweat and sometimes actual tears!!! Suddenly my body shape obsession became more important than focusing on technique and I found it hard to truly enjoy what I was doing without tearing myself apart.. Although I am small and slim I am not skinny and I think I sometimes in an effort by my peers and mentors to make me become a ‘professional dancer’ I was pushed slightly the wrong way. I have little interest in slagging people off because what they were doing wasn't bullying it's what they do to prepare you for the bullies and the constant rejection and the fact that you literally need to put the best foot forward in order to succeed.
I am sharing this not to get pity but to say that focusing on the aesthetic is unsustainable and unfulfilling. Of course you want to feel good and look great in your clothes but you have to know what's healthy and what is just plain madness. It's very negative and taxing on the body and mind to strive for six packs and gaps in between your thighs if getting there means a gruelling diet and an unhealthy obsession with exercise.
I love the art of dance, I love the fitness of dance, I love the enjoyment of dance and how it can truly enhance people's lives whether you partake or you spectate but I am often at odds with the warped perception of the dancers body and in the face of this ridiculous notion that we should all look the same I have had a fruitful career, I continue to work in dance, music and theatre and feel deserving of the roles because I am right for the job and I work hard. When I started to do barre for fitness I felt more confident and so much stronger because it hits everything you need in the one class, I love teaching it because I know that you will look and feel so much better!
I don't always love the body I am in, but I am thankful that after all I have put it through it gets up and does another days rehearsal or another show or teaches another class and never gives up. I am strong not skinny and I have the energy to prove it, I never run out of steam because of it. So If you are skinny, curvaceous, out of shape, at your peak fitness, tall, small, two left feet we don't care if you want to be strong and iron clad for anything that life throws at you then come to Rebel Barre because we know what it's like to feel like crap and we love you all the way you are while we kick your butt’s into a J-Lo shaped derrière! And all together now ‘Strong is the new Skinny’ JADE X