If you happened upon one of Amanda Lacount’s videos on Instagram, it would stop your frantic thumb action in its tracks – not only because of her choreography skills, but also because she doesn’t look like the thousands of other dancers populating the social-media platform with their videos. With the hashtag #BreakingTheStereotype emblazoned at the top of her page and accompanying her posts, Amanda’s message of body positivity is a breath of fresh air.
Goodness spoke to the young American dancer about her journey so far and diversity in the dance industry.
How long have you been dancing?
I’ve been dancing since I was two years old. I started in Fort Collins, Colorado dancing with my two older sisters (I also have four older brothers.). I began with a ballet/tap combo class and, after a few years, I added lyrical, jazz, and hip-hop. Over the years, I have trained in most dance styles, but hip-hop, jazz funk, contemporary, and tap are my favorite. I began competing at the age of six, and did so until I moved to Los Angeles at the age of 13. From then on, I focused on my professional dance career and signed with Bloc Talent Agency.
What have been some of your career highlights so far?
I have been blessed to have taken part in a number of amazing projects. I danced with Meghan Trainor on the Radio Disney Music Awards, with Keala Settle (from The Greatest Showman) on The Ellen Show, and with Katy Perry in her ‘Swish Swish’ music video. I also appeared twice on The Voice and launched my own national dance tour, ‘Amanda LaCount Live’.
As a woman in dance, an industry that can objectify the female body, have you faced any challenges?
Yes, I have. Mostly, I have been told over the years by peers, parents of fellow dancers, studio owners, strangers, and even Richard Simmons that I was too fat to be a dancer and I would never make it in the dance world as a professional dancer.
What does your hashtag, #BreakingTheStereotype, mean?
It means that it doesn’t matter what your sex, body type, height, skin color, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or religion is; “any body” can be a dancer. Follow your dreams and don’t worry about what other people may say or think. My passion is dance and my goal is to inspire others to follow their passion or dream.
What are your thoughts on diversity in the dance industry?
Things are getting better, but we still have a long way to go. I have been to many auditions where I have been asked to leave before they’ve even watched me dance. Unfortunately, the dance industry is under the belief that the audience only wants to watch tall skinny blondes in skimpy costumes dance. I don’t think this is the case.
You were recently cast in a music video in which you played a self-conscious and insecure dancer at an audition. You revealed on your Instagram account that this is something that you’ve personally struggled with in the past. Could you share with us the positive self-talk and affirmations that help your confidence when you’ve felt that way?
I feel blessed to have been able to fly to Paris to shoot the video for ‘Comme Une Tiene’ with Madame Monsieur. When I’ve felt this way at a real audition, I try to remember that I have trained for over 15 years to be here and that I deserve it as much as anyone else there. I go out and dance with all my heart and hope that people can see my passion and technique. All I can do is my best and, if it is meant to be, then it will happen.
What’s your message to the world?
Don’t be afraid to reach for your dreams. If you love it, do it. It’s as simple as that. Don’t let society’s hang-ups stop you from reaching for the stars.