Earlier in the Fall, I had a chance to meet Jessie Diaz, a powerful and sassy 29-year old plus size dancer and choreographer from The Bronx, New York and Founder of Curves with Moves. We both have a shared interest in dance that started at a young age with tap, jazz and ballet. But as Jessie grew, her opinions of who she needed to be to dance, changed, just as dance styles have evolved over the years. A lover of Hip Hop and Electro Funk who lives by the philosophy, “if you never ask, the answer is always no”, I’m proud to share Jessie’s inspiring story, as we close out 2016.
How did you get involved in dancing and how long have you been doing it?
Since I was 6 I was in ballet, tap and jazz and did that until the age of 12. My sister and I would have dance from 9am to 12 pm then we’d go home, eat, change and have softball from 2pm-4pm. We were pretty active kids. At 12 years old, the school advised me to lose weight as I hit puberty. My mother got wind of this and took me and my sister out of the program after I confessed to her what they told me since I refused to eat dinner for a week. In that time, I was upset at my mom, not knowing why she would take me out just because they wanted me to lose weight. As a young girl, I didn’t get it. I’m so grateful knowing what I know now. So in high school I stopped dancing and played sports as my substitute. I continued playing softball and that became my passion so much so that I thought I wanted to play in college. So when I got to college, I tried out for the softball team but my heart just wasn’t in it. I just didn’t feel as though this was the group of girls I was meant to spend college with. So the next day after tryouts I saw a flyer for dance teams auditions and went the next day and the rest is history!
“I get a kick out of people, who don’t expect me to be a dancer. There is a certain stigma of what they expect from you.”
2. What is you favourite style of dance?
I love dancing Hip Hop and I feel my choreography is the best when done to Hip Hop. I’m a hard hitting time of dancer. I like big and strong movements. My choreography is very much that. Recently I’ve been learning to vogue and will have to say that is a second fave for me. Oh and I’m Latina, so merengue and salsa are huge in my life, especially at family functions!
3. How do you feel when you dance?
There is something about a hard hitting Hip Hop dance piece that will put me in another world. I’ll be in a zone of utter confidence and swagness (is that a word? haha). It’s makes me feel like THE BOSS of my world.
4. Practice makes perfect when learning a new routine. Are there other fitness and athletic activities you engage in to enhance your dancing?
I’m a certified Vixen Workout instructor which is a dance routine based workout class. This workout not only is addictive and fun but it keeps my endurance going. I often feel like if I haven’t danced for more than a month, my endurance goes down. So this dance workout class keeps my body and mind active and ready for more. I also go to the gym 2-3 times a week and do light weightlifting as I do so much cardio but want to build and maintain muscle.
5. How has dancing and teaching others, enriched your life, health and fitness?
It has done wonders for my confidence. Self love is so important and when we find something we can say we truly love about ourself, it’s worth sharing with the world. Dancing for me has been my way to love myself and my body. It also keeps my mind healthy as I’m releasing endorphins every time I step on the dance floor.
6. Where do you teach?
I am teaching in the Bronx currently at Melisanti Dance Studio and offer private classes all over NYC.
7. What advice do you have for someone interested in getting into dancing in their community?
Take classes in different genres, different music, different studios. Find out what works for you. Also, don’t be afraid! If you feel nervous, say in the back of the class until you gain the confidence to move up a row. Learning to dance is a marathon, because it’s a journey you take. I continue to learn new things every time I take someone else’s class.
8. How can people connect with you?
About the Author:
Krista is the Founder of Born to Reign Athletics, a blog + portal website dedicated to motivating, educating and celebrating plus size women who unleash their inner athlete as a means of living a healthy life. She is an award-winning multi-sport athlete in triathlon and indoor rowing, and is recognized as a global leader in plus size fitness and athletics.