“I wanna dance, and love, and dance again.”
I wish we lived in a world where everyone felt they could confidently show off their signature dance move; something that our body is instinctively drawn to, something that could be executed fearlessly. Some people love the running man or the classic two step, while some kids twerk or booty drop like their life depends on it. Some dance moves can’t even be put into words, and those are the best kinds of moments to experience on the dance floor; when a dancer’s body and the music have a conversation that is so indescribable you can’t help but smile and feel joy. Unfortunately, not everyone feels comfortable enough in their own skin to dance their heart out. So many people feel stuck in their own body, and even worse, feel embarrassed of it.
But what does a dancer look like? A petite ballerina? A muscular and lean street dancer a la Channing Tatum in Step Up? What about something at the other end of the spectrum? Growing up in my hometown in Connecticut, I always felt out of place. I have struggled with my weight for my entire life, and felt like it was impossible for me to just blend in. I dreaded anything to do with sports – from kickball at summer picnics to gym class, I never felt like I could contribute anything to these types of activities. It wasn’t until I discovered musical theater that I found a physical activity that actually made me happy. Being on stage freed me in a way I never thought was possible. Despite finding an activity that gave me much joy, I still couldn’t escape feeling insecure about my own body. Often with casting leading roles you need to look a certain way, and I knew my size held me back with fitting the mold of certain roles that I would like to play. However between college and transitioning to being an actor in Los Angeles, I realized that my size is what made me unique and different and special. I was spending so much time trying to blend in, when so many actors do everything they can to stand out. I knew when it came to this, my size made me memorable, and I needed to find comfort in this. It’s still a daily struggle, but I definitely have a better appreciation of who I am and what I have to offer.
When it comes to movement one of my incredible mentors in Los Angeles, Kristi Slager, put it all into perspective for me. Kristi taught me that what people don’t realize is dancing is not a privilege. It’s not something for a select group of people. No matter who you are or what you look like, everyone has the right to dance. Everyone has the right to own their body and express their true beauty through movement. With this newfound confidence I was able to embark on my own personal evolution of dance.
The Dancing Man and the Dance Free Movement came into my life at exactly right time. Building confidence in my daily life was a struggle, and I really needed to learn from the example that Sean O’Brien, Hope Leigh, and Cassandra Fairbanks set for the world. Seeing a group of successful and beautiful women stand by a man they had never even met before inspired me to be kinder to not only to those around me, but to myself. It inspired me to dance so the world could see.
Being able to attend the “I Am Dancing Man Party” was truly magnificent. From the moment I approached the venue, I knew the event wouldn’t be like any other Hollywood party. There was something different about the energy of the people going in and out of the Avalon. Attending an event where people of all different shapes, sizes and backgrounds come together to support Sean O’Brien and the anti-cyber bullying cause brought a tear to my eye. A lyric in Hope Leigh’s song “Home to Me,” which was played during the event, summed up the evening in the best way possible, “You are enough.”
If I took anything away from this experience it was that we are ALL enough. I am enough. You are enough. And everyone around you is enough. No one can dance like me, and I can’t dance like anyone else, even if I tried. But my original dance moves and spirit make me unique and different and special in the best possible way. The incredible Dance Free Movement has inspired me to embrace ALL of my moves fearlessly, not only the dance floor, but in all aspects of my life.
By Eddie Leavy