Courtesy Montana

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.

Related Articles Around the Web

Latest Posts

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
Because this is stock art that exists in 2020. (Getty Images)

How to Dance in a Face Mask

There's a new must-have accessory for the dancers who've begun to venture back into the studio. Face masks are essential to protect your teachers and fellow dancers (not to mention their families) from coronavirus. But they definitely make dancing more complicated.

How can you prepare for—and adjust to—the new masked normal? Here's practical advice from Dr. Steven Karageanes, a primary care sports medicine specialist who's worked with the Rockettes and "So You Think You Can Dance," and Anna Dreslinski Cooke, a Chicago-based professional dancer who has experience dancing in cloth masks, disposable masks, N95 masks, and face shields.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search