Meet Luna Montana, the 18-Year-Old Ballet Dancer Who's Not Afraid to Talk About Body Dysmorphia
It's safe to say that in 2019, social media reigns supreme. Social platforms are especially great tools for dancers, allowing them to brand and market themselves, keep up with dance friends across the world, and get noticed by people who would otherwise be impossible to get in touch with. But with all the good, it's easy to forget that most of what you see is highly filtered and heavily curated—and not even close to reality. 18-year-old ballerina Luna Montana is on a mission to change that.
Luna, whose YouTube channel has exploded in popularity over the last few years, lives in L.A. and dances with Pacific Festival Ballet in Thousand Oaks, CA. One of Luna's recent videos, "How I Deal with Body Dysmorphia," deeply resonated with her viewers, who left comments ranging from "This should go viral, every dancer needs to hear this," to "Thank you for not being afraid to talk about the things we're all afraid to admit." Dance Spirit caught up with Luna to talk about her goals for her channel, her budding ballet career, and where she found the courage to be so honest.
What inspired you to make the body dysmorphia video? It's clear from the comments that it hit close to home for lots of your viewers.
Body image plays a huge role in mental health in the dance world. When I was a younger dancer, I felt like nobody showed this side of ballet, and it made me feel so isolated. There's such a stigma around mental health and body image, and I want aspiring dancers everywhere to know that it's something we all go through. We're living in a world with such unrealistic beauty standards, so I hope my videos can be a breath of fresh air. I want to be the person that I didn't have growing up—I want my viewers to know that I'm struggling right along with them, and we're all learning things together.
How'd you come to the decision to upload these super honest, raw videos?
As I've grown in popularity on YouTube and Instagram, I always take a step back and question what my mission statement is. I know how badly I feel when I scroll through IG and see a seemingly "perfect" dancer, so why would I want to do that to a younger dancer? It's so much more gratifying for me to know I positively affected someone, rather than uploading an edited, fake version of myself. We constantly see videos of dancers doing 10 pirouettes or holding their leg à la seconde at 180 degrees, but we forget that of course they aren't posting a video of them falling out of a turn or with a low leg, because it's not "impressive." I want to show that how you handle your defeats is what makes you successful.
When did you start dancing, and what are some of your career goals?
I started when I was 3, and was mostly interested in tap. It wasn't until I was around 10 that I started taking ballet seriously. I moved to a rigorous studio, attended summer intensives at Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and SAB. I'm about to debut as Guinevere in Pacific Festival Ballet's new production of Camelot. It's sort of my first main role, and I'm super excited.
I always knew I wasn't going to go the strictly ballet route, but it's still such a big part of my life. That's why I'm so happy I've found my YouTube-dance-world niche. I plan on continuing my YouTube career in L.A., and I'm definitely open to going the freelance or commercial route when it comes to ballet.
What do you hope viewers are getting out of your channel and social media presence?
I hope they're able to relate to me and understand my mission, which is to create a community of girls who can advise and support one another. Having the title of "influencer" comes with a lot of responsibility, so I hope viewers watch my videos and are influenced by my honesty. Everything is so filtered on social media, and it's so easy to create a "perfect" version of yourself with things like Facetune, but then you lose your authenticity. If you're lying to both yourself and your followers, what's the point?
If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?
Stop stressing about all the little things. In ballet, you get so caught up in the smallest details that you lose sight of reality. In five years, you'll never remember those fouettés you couldn't hit that day and cried over for hours. You have to live while you're young and experience life outside of the studio.
Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers by clicking on their names here:
And then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
We also want you to
get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.
When it comes to injury-prone body parts, knees reign supreme for dancers. But a little strengthening can go a long way in preventing painful outcomes. We turned to Dirk Hartog, a physical therapist with Westside Dance Physical Therapy in NYC, for three exercises that'll support and stabilize your knees.
Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.
Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.