CURVY ELITE DANCE COMPANY interview by Iesha Coppin
Photos by FAT GIRL FOTO
Curvy Elite sets itself apart by being more inclusive as a dance company. Was there ever a time you felt ostracized from a dance group, casting, or audition based on looking or dancing differently?
In high school, I was the manager of the drill team for three years. I loved the dances and made some great friends that encouraged me to try out finally. My junior year I made the team but was labeled as an alternate due to my weight. I pretended like it didn’t hurt but it did. It also encouraged me to make sure I stood out. I was placed in the jazz company because they can’t deny my ability to dance because of my lack of ability to kick my nose.
Dancers are relentlessly under scrutiny, where their every move is viewed through a microscope. How do you deal with this type of pressure in an industry that can be both rewarding but disheartening at the same time?
I can’t always be concerned with what people think. Often people assume that I am too big to turn or jump or do the splits. Assumptions and others opinions have little to no real value in what I do every day.
We’re in an era where the “cookie-cutter” body is a thing of the past; many are embracing that we as people come in various shapes and sizes, but this concept may not be as easy for the younger generation to comprehend. How do express a positive outlook for young girls/boys entering the dance industry with body dysmorphia or thinking they are less than because their looks differ from the pack?
Embracing each other’s differences and enforcing a favorable environment for our youth is critical today. It’s essential to my dancers and me that every girl and boy can see that we are different. In a good way. We embody that, except that, and always stay positive.
The age-old saying, “Quitters never prosper.” Have you ever felt that quitting dance was an option, if yes can you walk us down memory lane of that instance and why?
Absolutely! After starting the Curvy Elite in 2016, I had a nice sized membership. Then all at once all of my members quit. I recently reached out to them, and most said I was overbearing and not supportive enough of the members. I had to look at what I was doing wrong. I wanted to throw in the towel. I wanted to burn that towel and just say “f-it, I’m done”. But GOD! Something made me keep going. Mainly the support of my family to hang in there with me. My mom told me not to lose faith. We are on the road to greatness and staying faithful and diligent is key.
In the words of Queen Bey, the Curvy Elite Dance team are “Texas Bamas” straight out of Dallas, Texas. Does your native city play a part in creating choreography? Where else do you source inspiration?
It’s all about the BEAT! The Curvy Elite will at times hire choreographers. Such as Nadya Hard of Naughty Hawty Treats. We express our vision, get the music together, and they bring it to life. Most times we as a team will choreograph the routine ourselves based off of the look we want to achieve. DALLAS has always been on the map. We are just adding to the shine of the Lone Star!
What would you tell your younger self about the dance world; would you do anything differently on your journey?
DON’T BE SCARED! Life is all about failures and successes. I can’t let fear of failure rule my life. If I don’t fail, that means I never tried. I will always TRY! Success will come!
With the rise of social media, dancers and all around creatives can express themselves through various forms and fashions making it easier to be recognized and gain exposer within the general public. How did the Curvy Elite gain their fan base and acceptance amongst the masses?
The Curvy Elite started from the bottom. I have spent countless hours setting up websites, emails, social media accounts, and YouTube pages and sending out emails to anyone who would listen. I still do that today! Our fan base is mainly on Facebook. We posted our recent performance, and the views took off! We are accepted because we are real women and we are humble. This sisterhood has risen from the ashes to flourish amazingly, and we thank God for growth and abundance.
Within all groups, there is always a form of outshining the other and getting that top spot. How do the Curvy Elites uphold a sisterhood and comradery amongst each other?
We fight! No really, it takes hard work to honestly deal with a rambunctious group of women and their personalities. We challenge each other, but we are a family. It took me delegating a lot of my duties to my Captain, Co-Captain, and 1st Lieutenant. They keep all of the members informed, accountable, and responsible. We make it work by just having an open door policy.
What dance styles do you incorporate in your routines, what really gets the crowd going?
We are still a learning team. I am sure my dancers know much more than we have touched on. I plan on introducing more jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and modern dance as we expand.
It’s the night before a show; inquiring minds want to know how the Curvy Elites prepare.
We practice as much as possible. You can imagine that all of our schedules are different. Most of us are moms and wives. We have other responsibilities. We commit to each other as much as we can and work everything else out as we run into issues. Most of all before a performance, we pray. Not just that we have a good performance, but we pray for each other!
Aside from the Curvy Elite Dance Team which other plus-size dancers should we have on our radar?
Describe the dance industry in three choice words?
Bold, Relentless, and Unforgiving.
What has been your most significant challenge from dancing?
The primary challenge is maintaining energy and making sure our practice flows well and is accommodating to all of our members
What has been your greatest reward from dancing?
The Curvy Elite Dance Team is my baby! Just like my three boys are lol. But the bond that we have created as a team is priceless and lifelong.
Where do you see the future of dance regarding body acceptance and inclusivity?
It can only get Bigger and Better! Society as a whole has become more accepting of the curvy woman. Those that do not can either get on board soon or just get out of the way. The Curvy Elite Dance Team is a movement, and NOTHING is stopping this Plush Train!!
Check out CURVY ELITE's feature on a local news station http://cw33.com/2017/11/21/join-the-club-curvy-elite-dance-team-embraces-their-curves/
Are you in the Dallas Fort Worth area and would like to join the CURVY ELITE Dance Team?