© 2019 Ashleigh Owen

During my 8 years living in London as a frustrated performer I wished I had a creative outlet or that there was class I could take to get my blood pumping, meet new friends and be in an environment were I didn't feel judged for having a bigger body. I didn't want to just pop into a regular dance class as I knew my body couldn't move in the same way as those attendees, nor possibly at the same rate. Plus the anxiety of how a room a dancers could react upon seeing me enter a dance studio was enough to put me off.

 

After much thought and lots of encouragement I decided to take the leap and create my own class, hence the birth of Body Positive Dance. I named it this because I didn't want to exclude anyone from joining. To me it didn't feel right to limit it to just plus size bodies but open it too all bodies of all capabilities. I learned that this was actually one of the most wonderful and powerful perks of running the class. Some ladies joined because they liked the idea of a slower paced class, others hate the gym and wanted to burn calories in a fun and none judgemental environment and others just wanted to feel safe and sassy.

 

I have to say the best thing about it was seeing such a broad spectrum of beautiful body types in a room smiling, dancing and accepting each other. It really justified already my creation of the class. I was proud of what we had achieved in a short amount of time and I was proud of myself for making this happen. Once the video footage of the class performance went online (something some participants preferred to sit out) the views went beyond my biggest expectations gaining 47,000 views in a very short space of time. It even lead to the classes being nominated at 2015's British Plus Size Awards for Best Achievement. 

 

Body Positive Dance isn't like Zumba, its a class where you learn a routine and develop your dancing skills. The routines are easy to learn, great fun and to great music. There is no focus on dancing for exercise purposes or nothing geared towards losing weight. If you want to lose weight that is absolutely fine but I'm not going to be shouting "COME ON! GET MOVING! BURN THOSE CALORIES. SWEAT IS JUST YOUR FAT CRYING." I wanted each and every member to love and accept themselves as they are right here and right now. The promotion of self love and acceptance is very important to me and is something I will continue to do in all of my creative work.

 

If you would like to book a Body Positive Workshop for you and your friends, for your work place, a hen party or event then please email me: ashleigh.p.owen@hotmail.co.uk.