Amanda LaCount (photo by Rich Clark Photography, courtesy LaCount)

The Fabulous Amanda LaCount Is Shattering the "Skinny Dancer" Stereotype

From dancing in music videos (including Katy Perry's "Swish Swish") to performing on reality TV shows (including "Dancing with the Stars" and "The Voice"), 17-year-old Amanda LaCount is already conquering the commercial dance scene. If you've ever seen her dance, you understand why: She's a hard-hitting phenom with major stage presence. But in an industry where not having the "right" look can jeopardize your career, Amanda's also blazed her own path by accepting her beautiful curvy body the way it is.

Amanda's never let body-shamers discourage her from going after her dreams. She hopes that by breaking the "dancers are skinny" stereotype, she'll give others the courage to highlight their own unique features rather than hiding them or changing them to fit repressive industry standards. She's even started a campaign, #breakingthestereotype, to inspire artists of all shapes, colors, and sizes to dance for themselves.

We caught up with this dancing maverick to get her advice on cultivating body confidence in a world that's obsessed with the "perfect" body.


Why do you love dancing?

I'm a natural-born performer, and I love to be onstage. I feel so good when I'm able to tell a story through movement and make people feel something through dance.

Why do you think your #breakingthestereotype message is important for the dance world?

The media tells us that if you aren't skinny, you aren't beautiful. This is especially true in dance, where the underlying stereotype is that to be a dancer you must be tall, skinny, and caucasian. I was told by many people—peers, parents of peers, dance teachers, studio owners, strangers, even Richard Simmons!—that I was too fat to be a dancer. But I'm here, and I've proved them wrong.

Showing her moves (photo by Jordan Matter, courtesy LaCount)

My hashtag #breakingthestereotype is meant to remind the world that anyone can dance! Body type, height, skin color, sexual orientation, religion, ethnic background, and disabilities shouldn't play a role. Every body can dance. I want to educate the media and the dance world about that message.

How has your message been received in the dance industry?

I was so excited last summer when Capezio invited me to join Team Capezio. When a prominent dance brand that's been around for over 130 years adds a plus-size dancer to their dancewear campaign, it's a major step toward the rest of the dance world realizing that dancers come in all shapes and sizes.

What's your dream dance gig?

That's easy! I'd like to go on tour as a dancer with Meghan Trainor. I like what she represents, and her music, of course. I was so excited when she recently started following my Instagram.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years, I see myself touring with a major artist or dance convention, and teaching hip-hop classes around the world.

LaCount posing in tap shoes (courtesy LaCount)

Have you always been as confident as you are today?

It was actually hard for me to learn. A few years back, I realized that my life as a dancer would be "easier" if I was tall, skinny, and blonde. But that wouldn't be me. I had to figure out that part of what makes me special as a dancer is the fact that I don't look and dance like everyone else. A studio owner once told me that my body type didn't fit his vision for the competition team I'd tried out for. I was really upset until my mom reminded me that my goal was not to fit into a group. My goal was to shine. I'll always look different, and now I embrace that.

LaCount with Katy Perry on the set of Perry's music video "Swish Swish" (courtesy LaCount)

What advice do you have for dancers still struggling with confidence issues?

Dance for you! All you can do is dance from your heart and try your best. If dancing makes you happy, don't worry about making other people happy. If they don't like it, that's their problem, not yours. Confidence is about following your dreams and not worrying about what other people may say or think.

Latest Posts


Trans dancer, choreographer, and activist Sean Dorsey in his work Boys in Trouble (Keegan Marling, courtesy Sean Dorsey Dance)

8 Phenomenal Trans and GNC Dancers to Follow

Whether through color-specific costumes, classes separated by sex, or the "traditional" view of the roles boys and girls should play in ballet, most dance students are taught that their gender determines their role in the studio beginning in elementary school. And, especially for those struggling with their own gender identity, that can cause harm and confusion. "From a very young age, I did not see myself reflected anywhere in the modern dance field," says trans dancer, choreographer, and activist Sean Dorsey. "There was a really intense message I received, which was that my body and identity don't have a place here."

Despite significant societal progress in regards to gender representation, the dance world has trailed behind, and many transgender and gender nonconforming teenagers still feel lost within the world of dance. Prominent trans and GNC professional dancers are few and far between. "Being a Black trans woman means I have to work extra, extra, extra hard, because I have to set the tone for the people who come after me," says Brielle "Tatianna" Rheames, a distinguished voguer.

But the rise of social platforms has given Rheames, Dorsey, and other trans and GNC dancers a path to visibility—and that visibility helps create community and change lives. "Social media plays an extremely big part," Rheames says. "You can't just hide us anymore." Here are eight incredible trans and GNC dancers to add to your own Instagram feed.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search