The Fabulous Amanda LaCount Is Shattering the "Skinny Dancer" Stereotype
Amanda LaCount (photo by Rich Clark Photography, courtesy LaCount)
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.