Celebrating International Womens Day: An Interview With Brand Ambassador Layla Terr  | Move Dancewear

Women In The Dance Industry

By Move Dance on 8th Mar 2024

Brand Ambassador Layla Terr On Being A Woman In The Dance Industry

Happy International Womens Day dancers, this years the theme is #inspireinclusion. Not just today but every day we applaud the women in dance for their strength, individuality and resilience. We asked one of our brand ambassadors Layla Terr who currently dances at Ballet Arkansas about what it is like being a woman in the dance industry.

As a woman in the dance industry do you feel pressured to fit into the typical ‘petite’ and ‘delicate’ stereotype of a ballerina?

I feel pressured to be this “petite and delicate” dancer in the ballet industry. This is how many people think the ballet industry is and how ballerinas should look, but I disagree. To do what we do every day, perform to our best abilities, and execute extremely difficult steps, we need strength. When I was younger I sometimes let the pressure get to me, but now as a professional dancer, I know that I need strong muscles and a more built physique to do what is now required of ballet dancers. I perform at my best when I am in shape, which doesn’t mean “petite,” but rather strong and healthy.

How does dance make you feel empowered?

Dance makes me feel empowered because of the freedom of artistic expression, the connection of the dancer to the audience, and because of the strong community built around it. It requires a lot of discipline and mental strength to be a dancer, so all dancers should take pride in themselves that they’ve contributed to the arts using their bodies as their tools, but also their souls and minds in the movement and expression of their dancing.

What struggles have you faced as a woman in the dance industry and how have you overcome these?

As a woman in dance, there are many stereotypes that we face, especially with our bodies, and overcoming these is no small feat. I’ve learned that the best remedy to this is to remember why I dance, who I can potentially inspire by my art, and how I can make a difference through dance. It’s hard to remember that sometimes, but it helps me to keep pushing to get better every day, ignore the negativity, and keep creating.

Who are your female dance role models?

I am inspired by many dancers but just to name a few: Lauren Anderson, Marianela Núñez, Michaela Deprince, Katlyn Addison, and many other dancers who I’ve crossed paths with whose stories have yet to be told.

What is your favourite part about being a female in the dance industry?

The dance community is my favourite part of being a woman in dance. You are constantly inspired and in awe by people who you work with every day. The dance community might be small, but it’s so strong. It’s so cool to meet amazing artists who may have a connection with someone you know, a company you’ve worked for, or a teacher you’ve studied under. It’s an uplifting community for sure and it has to be one of my favourite parts of being a dancer.

As the theme this year is based around inclusivity have you experienced or witnessed any prejudice in the dance industry?

I have experienced much prejudice in my time as a ballet student and professional dancer, even to this day. The aggressions go from small comments about tights or shoes, to being called slurs for no reason. None of this is acceptable at all, but I’ve come to terms that this is unfortunately something that I, and many others dancers of colour have to face due to uneducated people in the world. My hope is that the next generation of dancers of colour won’t have to face this.I want to make a difference by educating this generation and the next, to be strong and confident with who they are so that when people say something out of line, which they will unfortunately, they will remain secure in knowing that they are beautiful dancers and are worth so much more than anyone’s negative comment. If I can help one person understand the wrong that they’ve said, or help a dancer of colour feel confident in themselves again, then my struggles and prejudice that I’ve faced in the dance world will be worth it.

Check out @layla.terr on socials.

You can also use her code LAYLA10MOVE to grab 10% off all Move DanceAlegra

Have a read of our blogs How To Prepare For Dance College and Advice and Tips for Male Dancers to get some more dance related advice!

We’ve got lots of dancewear to help you feel empowered and perform at your best. Find lovely dance leotards, dance shoes and dance costumes.

The Move Dance Team xx