Kylie Morton Berry performing (Richard Calmes, courtesy Berry)

Chest Confessions: Real Talk About Dancing with a Large Bust

When Latrice Gregory was hired to dance in a music video for the TV show "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," she found herself in a surprisingly unfamiliar situation. The video was for show creator Rachel Bloom's song "Heavy Boobs," and "of all the dancers, I had the smallest breasts!" Gregory laughs. "I'm used to being the largest in a group. I actually felt a little inadequate!"

Dancing backup in a comedic ode to being well-endowed may have been a niche job, but Gregory has had no trouble finding mainstream work. A former Knicks City Dancer, Gregory has also worked with Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson, and Cardi B, as well as on the shows "Fresh Off the Boat" and "Jane the Virgin." Her resumé is proof that, despite the dance world's traditional straight-and-slim aesthetic, there's room for other body types to shine.


That doesn't mean it's always easy for large-busted dancers, who might find themselves dealing with closed-minded directors and choreographers, ill-fitting costumes, and/or chronic back pain. But there's no need to struggle in silence. Here's advice from dance experts who know what you (and your boobs) are going through.

Technique Talk

In terms of technique, having large breasts doesn't make you any less capable than your flat-chested peers. That said, there are a few bad habits and alignment issues that can go along with having a bigger bust.

"What I sometimes see, and what I felt in my own body, is a tendency to sit in the lower back," says Kylie Morton Berry, a teacher at Van Metre School of Dance in Maryville, TN, as well as principal dancer and ballet mistress for the school's affiliated Appalachian Ballet Company. "When your breasts pull you forward," she explains, "you may stick your rear end back to counterbalance." That swaybacked posture isn't just bad technique—it can also lead to lower back pain.

Alexandra Cook, a teacher and the community programs director for Mark Morris Dance Group in Brooklyn, NY, points out another possible overcompensation: "As a student, I would often be told not to pop my rib cage. After a while, I developed a habit of tucking my rib cage instead." What went wrong? "I'd never really been popping my rib cage," Cook explains. "I just had a bigger bustline. My teachers were misreading what they saw." If you feel like a correction you're being given isn't sitting right in your body, Cook recommends talking to your teacher after class, one on one.

"Each of us is faced with different challenges, regardless of body type," points out Jessi Patz, a professional dancer and physical therapist for the Broadway community. Instead of only worrying about how your breasts may be affecting your dancing, she recommends a more holistic view: "Focus on alignment, strength, flexibility, imbalances, and efficiency."

Wes Klain, courtesy Gregory

Costume Conundrums

When contemporary ballet dancer Laura Morton (Berry's sister) was an apprentice with Atlanta Ballet, she was cast to understudy the doll in The Nutcracker. "I went to try on the costume, and it fit me in the waist and the ribs, but the top two hooks wouldn't hook because of my boobs," she recalls. "They couldn't make alterations, so I was told I could no longer understudy the part."

Already self-conscious about her breasts, Morton admits the situation made her worry that people were more concerned with her body type than her talent. The next time a costume wasn't working, she felt nervous about asking for alterations. But then she had a heart-to-heart with that ballet's choreographer, Gemma Bond. "Gemma told me, 'I cast you for a reason. I want to see you up there—and you happen to have breasts,'" Morton says. "That was a huge shift for me." Now 22, Morton dances with Atlanta-based troupes Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre and Staibdance, and she's much more confident about her shape.

Proper fit is about more than hooks hooking and zippers zipping. It's also vital to feel supported and covered onstage. "I've definitely had times where I've had to say, 'I don't feel comfortable performing in this,' " Gregory says. "It shouldn't be a source of embarrassment; it's just what I need to do my job well." One way you can help costumers is to bring in support garments that make you feel secure. (For some ideas, see "Support Systems".) Costumers can use them for reference, or even work them into the finished look. Gregory once wore her own bra for a Grammy performance with Cardi B. "Wardrobe had zero problems with that," she says.

Laura Morton as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Appalachian Ballet Company's "The Nutcracker" (Calmes, courtesy Morton)

The Intangible Issues

If you're focusing on proper alignment in the studio and are ready to advocate for yourself on the costume front, is there anything holding you back? Unfortunately, you may still have to contend with other people's ideas of what a dancing body "should" look like. For classical ballet in particular, the aesthetic remains fairly rigid—and bad experiences can stick with you. Morton still feels apprehensive in certain costumes. "If I'm bouncing, even a little," she says, "part of me worries, Is the audience going to pay more attention to that than to what I'm giving as an artist?"

There are also negative stereotypes related to having curves. Early in Gregory's career, she would often get called in for "stripper" roles. "I know that's because of my body type," she says. She cautions that if you're curvy, you have to be extra aware of how you're presenting yourself, both in person and in photos. "A pose that on someone else would be seen as innocent or artistic can look scandalous on me, simply because I'm more voluptuous," she explains.

In the dance world, there's so much that's out of your control, and how people react to your natural physique falls under that umbrella. But you can control how you respond to feedback and setbacks. For instance, Morton says to remind yourself that, "Women have breasts, and that can be a beautiful thing to see onstage."

Cook recommends seeking out opportunities where you're valued for exactly what you bring to the table. "If someone is concerned about your bust rather than your performance quality or your technical ability, pick someone else to perform with," she says. "The dance world is big and wide and varied, and there's a place for you in it."

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What’s in Your Dance Bag—Based on Your Zodiac Sign

Sometimes our dance bags feel like portals to another dimension—we have no idea what half the stuff buried in our bags even is. (Note to self: Clean out dance bag.)

But have you ever wondered if there's a method to the madness? We're pretty sure there is, and as always, we're pretty sure it's something to do with astrology. That's right, your resident Dance Spirit astrologers are back with our best guess at what you keep in your dance bag—based on your zodiac sign.

Aries

You're always going 100 mph Aries (or maybe even more), so it's pretty much a guarantee that your dance bag is fully stocked with snacks to power you through the day. Granola bars, trail mix, yogurt, fruit. It's like a Whole Foods in there.

You've also usually got about six different pairs of shoes in your bag. As an Aries, you love adventure, trying new things and, most of all, a challenge. So when it comes to classes, you're all over the map. Tap, jazz, ballet, character, modern—you'll try them all.

Something else you won't go without? Your signature red lipstick, obv. How else are you going to show off your fiery personality? (And look amazing while doing it, TYSM.)

Taurus

As a child of Venus, you always want to look your best, Taurus. So your dance bag is a hair salon/makeup station, all in one. If your dance besties need to borrow a hair tie, or are looking for a fun accessory to spice up their bun, they know you're the one to go to.

Also important to you? Smelling your best. Taureans love comforting, luxurious scents, so your dance bag is typically equipped with a favorite perfume or deodorant. (Or both.)

But what's most important is the bag itself—admit it, you've been using the same dance bag for years. We get it, Taurus, nobody likes change, and least of all the stubborn bull of the zodiac. But if your dance bag is really starting to smell like feet (or if your bobby pins are starting to slip through the holes in the bottom), you might want to consider investing in a new bag.

Gemini

Gemini, you love to switch it up. So you're pretty much guaranteed to have at least three different dance fits in your bag at any given time. And your dancewear is always on point. You love to keep up with trends and try edgy, new looks.

Ever the intellect, you usually have a book in your bag, as well. You're always making book recs to your fellow dancers, and you refuse to be bored between rehearsals or backstage.

Though you might act carefree, Gemini, we know that at heart, you're ruled by Mercury—and you have more in common with your sister sign Virgo than you'd like to admit. That's why you always have a toothbrush, toothpaste, and some floss in your dance bag. No way you're getting caught with food between your teeth (or bad breath during partnering class).

Cancer

Not to be obvious, but as a water sign, the first and foremost thing a Cancerian keeps in their dance bag? A water bottle, of course. (Preferably a Hydroflask, S'well or any bottle that comes in a fun color.) No dehydration here, please and thank you.

Your dance bag also functions as a de facto vending machine for your dance besties, since you always come prepared with the best snacks, and you're always willing to share. As a bonus, your snacks are almost always homemade, since you're practically a five-star chef.

And while we're wary of zodiac stereotypes, there is a pretty good chance your dance bag is stocked with tissues. And there's no shame in that—because, really, who can get through a performance of Romeo and Juliet without shedding some tears? Props to you for being in touch with your emotions, Cancer.

Leo

We'll state the obvious, Leo. You love to look at yourself, and sometimes the studio mirrors just aren't enough. So, naturally, you always keep a compact mirror in your dance bag, just in case your makeup or your bun needs an extra touch-up.

You also love bright colors, and you're not afraid to wear more daring dancewear than any of your besties. You've usually got a couple of leotards packed in your bag, just in case you need to make a fashion statement, and they're always fun. Bright colors, loud prints, stylish necklines—you'll try anything.

But something not everyone knows about you? You're an amazing friend, and incredibly loyal, Leo. That's why you've usually got something in your bag for your dance bestie, be it her favorite brand of granola bar, a fun sparkly pin for her hair, or a note reminding her she's a star, on and off the stage.

Virgo

You're incredibly hardworking, Virgo, so you've always got the tools for success in your dance bag. TheraBands, foam rollers, tennis balls—you're the one dancer your teacher can always count on to be stretching between classes.

You also love to be prepared, so you've usually got a makeshift first-aid kit in your bag. The thought of suffering a blister or floor burn without the appropriate salves or bandages makes you shudder, and, hey, it's always better to be overprepared, right?

What's most noticeable about your dance bag, though, isn't what's inside of it. It's what it looks like—your bag is pristine. It never smells like feet, and you've got a hard-core system for what you keep in each little zip pocket or compartment. And TBH, all of your dance friends are jealous, though they'd never admit it.

Libra

Like your sister sign Taurus, appearances are important to you, Libra. You like to look good (no shame in that), so your dance bag is always stocked with the essentials: extra hair spray, lip gloss, concealer, bobby pins and a spare leotard, in case you get just a bit too sweaty.

You also love to socialize, so if this were the 1950s, we would say that you always keep your date book in your dance bag. As it is, you always have your phone with you, and it's usually blowing up with texts from your dance besties asking to make plans.

Your dance bag wouldn't be complete without your secret supply of chocolate. But to be clear: This isn't your average Hershey's bar. Libras aren't afraid to indulge, so you keep a bar of luxury dark chocolate tucked away for when the cravings hit.

Scorpio

You can't fool us, Scorpio—the contents of your dance bag aren't some big mystery, like you'd like us all to believe. In fact, they're pretty basic: For starters, you always have a black leotard or two in your bag. After all, black is your signature color.

One thing that isn't in Scorpio's dance bag? Toe pads. You love to look tough, so you'd never be caught dead wearing toe pads with your pointe shoes. However, this does mean you need a hefty supply of Band-Aids for the inevitable blisters.

You also love all things mystical and, dare we say, witchy. You're the Halloween queen of the zodiac, after all! So it's no surprise you always have a crystal or two in the front pocket of your dance bag. Let us guess…moldavite?

Sagittarius

You're an explorer, Sagittarius, and that applies to your dancing. You're always trying new dance styles, and that's reflected in your dance bag. You always have the trappings of your latest obsession in your bag: heeled shoes for ballroom, kneepads for contact improv, sneakers for breaking, the list goes on and on.

But on all of your adventures, there's one consistency: You love making memories. And that means literally—you document everything. At each performance or recital, you're bound to be the one with a Polaroid or disposable camera in your bag, and you can usually be found snapping backstage candids of your dance besties.

Your other favorite form of documenting? Writing it down. You love to learn, so you're always taking notes. You can usually be found after class scribbling down your dance teacher's latest piece of wisdom. Your dance bag is crammed with half-filled notebooks, and you wouldn't have it any other way.

Capricorn

You like to be prepared, Capricorn. And we mean prepared—for every bad scenario imaginable. That's why your dance bag is a mini survival kit. The first Capricorn dance bag guarantee? A stitch kit, of course. Losing a ribbon on your pointe shoe mid-rehearsal is your worst nightmare.

You also always have at least three spare leotards handy. After all, what if you spill something, or get too sweaty or, worst of all, show up to an audition in the same leotard as your dance rival? No, thank you. As a Capricorn, you're expecting the best and preparing for the worst.

Another key to your survival kit? Headphones, so you can drown out the noise around you and focus on your dancing. And before anyone asks, the answer is yes, you have the perfect playlist—for each and every occasion.

Aquarius

Aquarius, you love helping others. That's why it sometimes seems like your dance bag isn't even for you—it's filled with stuff you bring for your friends. Snacks for one dance bestie, Band-Aids for another, and tampons, of course, just in case anyone needs one.

But when it comes to you, you're all about originality. That's why you always have tons of fun accessories in your bag: striped legwarmers, colorful socks, tie-dyed sweats and more than a couple of fun additions to your ballet bun, just to make it a little more interesting.

You're also a rebel at heart, Aquarius, which is why there's usually something in your dance bag that just borders on breaking the rules. Maybe your studio is strictly black leotards only—and yours is gray. Or phones are completely banned—and you just put yours on vibrate. We see you.

Pisces

Like your fellow water sign Cancer, you're big on hydrating during dance class. But as a Pisces, you're a little more imaginative (and a little less practical), meaning you're usually carrying your water in something aesthetically pleasing, like a mason jar, a tumbler, or one of those fancy water bottles with a crystal in the base.

Unlike Cancer, you're a mutable sign, meaning you can adapt to just about any situation. Counterintuitively, this actually means your dance bag is pretty sparse. Unlike other zodiac signs who feel the need to overprepare in case of disaster, you're comfortable in most situations, and your dance bag reflects it. You like the basics, nothing else.

Something most people might not know about you, though, is that you get cold easily. We're not sure why, but it's a Pisces staple. That's why if you keep anything in your dance bag, it's the coziest of warm-ups.

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