I’ve been a dancer my entire life and it wasn’t until recently that I realized how much of an impact it has had on me. I grew up in a contemporary studio setting and competed until I was 18. While that was fun, I found it has actually been the last couple years of dance that have shaped me into the woman I am today more than anything else.
After high school, I began taking heels classes, which, in short, is basically the type of dance you see in music videos and award shows—and it’s all done in stilettos. At first, this style of dance was far from my comfort zone; I felt odd, and definitely uncomfortable, moving in a way that was more provocative and unfamiliar than what I was used to. However, the classes were always so much fun that I continued taking them. The teachers provided an environment that was safe for exploring the sassy, sensual, and sexual sides of yourself. About a year and a half ago, I joined Sensual Heeling, a heels company founded by Kaela Faloon. It was through this company that I was able to tune into my sexuality more fully and come to terms with the fact that human beings shouldn’t have to hide this side of ourselves, despite being told otherwise by society.
Through the company I have met so many amazing women who have felt that dance—heels specifically—have changed their lives and view on sexuality. I decided to interview five women from the Sensual Heeling family to find out more about their experiences with dance and sexuality. Even though the dance community is very open about embracing one’s sexuality, many of these women have day jobs and families or friends that don’t feel the same. For security sake, I will keep their names anonymous.
“Dance makes me feel amazing. What I mean by that is that when I dance I feel free to express myself without judgement, in a creative and authentic way.”
“I love that it helps everyone find a common ground. Whether you've been doing it for decades or you just started, there is a camaraderie that develops amongst complete strangers when you're dancing.”
“I love that when I’m in dance classes I don’t have to think about anything else in the moment. Dance has helped me in many other areas of my life and I’m more confident because of it.”
“Ever since I was little, I loved to dance. There was something about the art that I genuinely admired. The way it made you feel… When I dance, I feel like I am the only person in the room, in this little bubble where I can be my true self. I can be foolish, I can be fearless, I can be beautiful, I can be free, I can be sexy—I can be anything I want to be.”
“I’ve always been an advocate for female sexuality and I believe dance is a very power vehicle for that. I don't believe it's necessarily changed my view because I've always had a positive outlook towards it.”
“Yes definitely! It helped me find, and believe my own, and when I was teaching, it helped me help other women to find it in themselves.”
“Yes. I grew up in the church and have a very conservative family, so as you can guess, a lot of things were often discouraged. Dance has introduced me to owning my sexuality and being more confident in who I am. I’m learning a lot about myself through it. My family doesn’t really know what kind of dance I do, they just know that it’s impacted my life.”
“Dance allows me to live in a mental space that is truly about the present, and as a result, I end up connecting much better with my body and stimuli that’s being received at the moment. It just naturally halts all the non-stop internal dialogue and lowers my anxiety. It has changed my view, or rather than change, I’d say it has expanded it.”
“Growing up in a very traditional and old-fashioned household, where I was the youngest of the family, I was smothered. Always labelled as “cute” or the “baby”, that I started to believe that that was all I could be. I had no understanding of what the word “sexuality” meant. I spent my entire life growing up thinking the word “sexy” was a bad word. To me, a female was either “cute” or a “slut” (not kidding). There was no in-between and part of that was because of old-fashioned values instilled in me by my own family growing up. I used to think a respectable, wholesome, educated woman couldn’t be sexy because that meant she was a slut and that was bad. In my mind, it was all mutually exclusive. I started to notice a change when I started dancing, specifically when I started taking heels classes. Initially, I felt way out of my comfort zone. In a way, I felt like I was going against my own family values—my values. I was mortified at the thought of ever telling my family how much skin I was showing, or the moves I was doing, or the heels I was wearing... I thought that if I never told my family, anyone of my friends, or posted on social media then it couldn’t be real because I couldn’t admit to myself that I was growing and changing my own views on female sexuality. I also never thought that I could embody somebody with that much confidence to dance in heels. I needed the push. As I started to grow as a dancer, I became more confident in my own skin.”
“It’s just given me a platform to express it in a safe way. There are no limits to dance so therefore there are no limits to expressing my sexuality through it.”
“To embrace all sides of it. That no matter what you are trying to express, whether it be sensual, sexual, coy, aggressive etc. that all of it has a time and place because we all have these versions in us that come out to play when we want. That any and all of these are not only accepted but wonderful too.”
“When I first started heels training, I was scared to touch myself in front of people (LOL), until teachers like Kaela Faloon and Angela Mahoney showed us how ridiculous it looked not to. I’ve realized that it’s okay for my sexuality to be different from the person next to me. We are all different and that’s the way it was created to be. I giggle/smile a lot and I’m learning to own my traits when I dance.”
“That it belongs to me. It has given me back the power over my body and my actions. The power not only to claim back my sexuality but also to be able to deconstruct what decisions have been made in the past about what women should and shouldn’t do. I have been able to accomplish things that 5 years ago I thought I could never do; I’m not naive tho, I’m not going to sit here and say “you can do anything you want if you really try!” cause that’s just irresponsible; but I will say that it IS important to try.”
“[For dance] I wear crop tops because I feel GOOD. I wear lingerie because I feel POWERFUL. I wear Spanx because I feel FREE. This past season with Sensual Heeling has changed my views on female sexuality because it allowed me to explore a different side of me. A side of me of which I neglected for so many years of my life. I can finally admit that there are other parts that make up female sexuality that aren’t classified as “bad” and that I am them. I am confident, and I am sexy when I dance.”
“I’ve always been comfortable with my sexuality, I guess dance is just a way for me to express it publicly as opposed to privately. I also believe I can inspire women around me to be more confident in their sexuality if I am shown to express it.”
"ABSOLUTELY! What we don't often talk about with sexuality is that it starts with you. Especially as women we are often taught that we shouldn't embrace that side of it, which is crazy! If you don't feel comfortable and sexual in your own skin then how do we expect someone else to embrace it? Once I discovered my own sexuality and the power in that while it was just about me looking at myself in the mirror, it was so much easier to be comfortable with it both on my own and with a partner.”
"It has made me more comfortable with my sexuality, but I still feel like I’m learning about myself. I started discovering this side of myself in this way over the past year and a half.”
“Yes, definitely. I feel like because I have danced in so many different environments I have to create a very solid foundation of who I am as a woman; and sometimes, I’ve had to dance to music with messages I don’t relate to, or wearing clothes perhaps I didn’t feel like wearing that day, but instead of allowing that affect me I’ve had to make it work and compartmentalize the way I feel at the moment in order to respond to the situation; and it most cases I ended up unscathed, I still know very well who I am, and instead of feeling beaten down by the situation I see it as in opportunity to grow and further cement my beliefs.”
“Yes and no. I am much more self-aware and self-accepting of my sexuality than I was a year ago, but I find that I still care about what other people think. I have come a long way for me to admit that I am confident and sexy when I dance, but when I am not dancing, is when my old ways of thinking begin to peer back in. I doubt everything I have overcome. I believe that if it’s not me that is thinking this way, then it is everyone else. I worry that I post too much about dance and that people find me annoying. I worry that my last dance post was too sexy. I worry that I am not good enough. All my doubts and fears come back and only disappear when I dance.”
“As a beautiful partnership. Endearing, explorative, sensual, authentic.”
“It battled a lot with each other—I couldn't really embrace my sexuality for most of my life, which made any dance that had that essence feel forced and fake. Slowly, over time the two started to gel together and now I embrace myself fully in both my dance and my sexuality, both independently and when joined.”
“Dance has helped me discover new and exciting things about myself. I appreciate that dance has taught me to connect with my sexuality.”
“I think it has made me more aware of the importance of my own experience and the importance of being comfortable with myself.”
“There is something about dance that makes me feel free and powerful in my own skin. Although that may seem like enough to get over my insecurities, my sexuality being one of them—The truth is, I have only discovered dance (my form of therapy) a little over a year ago whereas I have been dealing with my insecurities for my entire life. Learning to become comfortable with my own sexuality is a work in progress, but I have for sure come a long way.”
“Dance has lead me to my career, friendships, exploration of myself, romance, sex, travel, literally everything. It has opened so many doors for me, it's my number one love and the best thing in my life!”
“Oh wow. I battled a lot with dance growing up and always thinking that I wasn't good enough for it. I quit for a few years about 4 years ago and it wasn't until I joined a heels program again that my love for dance, and myself, really took over. This past year has been a huge change for me and I finally understand my own power and that is a huge thanks to the confidence that dance has built up and my ability to express myself through it.”
“It has taught me how to express myself in different ways using my body. I am more confident in myself. Before I started dance, you wouldn’t catch me on a dance floor without liquid courage (even in front of my family).”
“It has become a REALLY effective outlet for me. I like to say that I speak 3 languages now; Spanish, English and dance. I feel like when it comes to emotions, dance is the most reliable way for me to talk about them. Movement can truly grasp what words fail to exteriorize.”
“Dance has impacted my life in so many ways. I was never technically trained—even though I so desperately wanted to be growing up. Instead, I taught myself choreography off YouTube on my spare time. It easily became a passion of mine, once I discovered I was good at it. Coming from a Latin American family has also influenced the role of dance in my life. Dance is a big part of the Latin culture. It is fun, a social thing to do, it is considered a skill to have and it is respected in the Latin community. I have always respected and admired the art since I can remember. As I grew older, dance became therapeutic for me. This little bubble I keep mentioning became my haven. In this haven, there are no judgments, and if there are, I am too consumed in my own happiness that I just don’t care. Everything is much clearer. When I’m stressed, I dance. When I’m sad, I dance. When I’m happy, I dance. The trick is to just start moving. I have yet to find anything that makes me as happy as I am when I dance. The pure joy that I feel has given me so much more confidence in taking on the world. I feel less inclined to deal with nonsense in my life because of the confidence I have built through dance. I care less about what other people think (mostly). I mean don’t get me wrong, I still care, but not as much as I used to. The biggest takeaway from my dance journey, thus far, is my growth—even if it is just a little, it’s created the biggest impact in my life.”
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