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.
This week, over 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!
In her senior year at Butler University, Jennifer Sydor auditioned for more than a dozen regional ballet companies—and got a string of "no, thank you" responses. "I have an athletic build, and my movement quality isn't the typical ballet aesthetic," Sydor says. "But I'd been laser-focused on ballet. When I didn't get a ballet contract, I was heartbroken."
Her one job offer came from Kim Robards Dance, a small modern company based in Aurora, CO. After attending KRD's summer intensive, Sydor ended up accepting a yearlong position with the troupe. "I was relieved and happy to begin my career," she says. She's been working as a contemporary dancer ever since.
In the dance world, rejection is part of the package. That doesn't make it any more pleasant. But whether you didn't get the Nutcracker role of your dreams or you weren't picked for a job despite feeling like you aced the audition, you can emerge from even the most gut-wrenching "no" smarter and stronger.
Guess who's baaaaack?! Your resident Dance Spirit astrologers! And on the eve of the Youth America Grand Prix awards ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to pair each zodiac sign with a variation commonly seen during the competition. After many painstaking hours spent researching, consulting the stars, and staring wistfully into the sky, we compiled our data and present you with the definitive list of each star sign as a YAGP variation! As we said last time, don't @ us if you're not happy with your pairing—the stars don't lie, baby!