Well, if it’s a good dancer we’re talking about, almost everyone. For many people the obvious answer is well, duh, what does weight have to do with dance skill? But for a lot of people there is a huge prejudice against even a few extra pounds on a dancer. Even today where fat people are hardly an unusual sight, many if not most people still believe there is no such thing as a good dancer who is overweight. Of course I’ve got some great clips to illustrate my point, but first let me speak from my experience in the realm of partner dance.
I have danced as a leader with tiny slender women who follow like a mac truck. I have an old shoulder injury, so when I lead I’m careful about the partners with whom I’m willing to dance. I look at skill, not size. A follower who resists can injure me no matter what size she is. Someone who follows skillfully can weigh 300 pounds and be a breeze to lead. People don’t suddenly lose their ability to follow when they gain weight.
Size not only has no voice in the skill of partner dancing, it also is not an indicator of athletic ability, contrary to popular belief. This hip hop dancer certainly lacks the classic toned dancer body, but can you doubt his level of fitness when you see these moves?
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My second example is a belly dancer. Extra flesh is actually traditional in this genre because Middle Eastern standards of beauty differ from America’s. It takes a pretty high level of fitness to master this core strengthening dance and (to my eyes anyway) it looks good on a fleshy body.
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Dance has long been plagued with unrealistic standards of “beauty”. Professional dancers have to have not only talent and skill, but the right look as well. People who dance for fun, however, come in a wide range of body sizes and types. I love to see people of all sizes and shapes take to the floor for the sheer joy of dancing. Anyone can be an outstanding dancer, especially if they start now and don’t feel the pressure to wait until they lose weight. You might lose weight just by falling in love with a physical activity and adding movement to your life. Or you might not. In either case, you’ll feel better and you’ll be more fit both physically and mentally. I encourage everyone who loves even the idea of dance to just do it and not let any idea of what constitutes a dancers body get in your way!
by LaurieAnn Lepoff
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