Overcoming Adversity to Dance

by Philip Galbert

Dancing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, over 20 years. Growing up in an African American/Latino household, music and dance was more than just something you enjoyed, it was a huge part of our rich culture. As I write this and remember all of the performances, music and dance videos, indie movies, and commercials I've been a part of, it honestly feels like someone else's dream, or even er yet, someone else's story.

My journey through the world of dance has been rough for many reasons: I don't have what society considers a "dancer's body," lack of support from both family and friends, name calling, fat shaming, and even being physically abused because of the styles of dance I practice (Sass, Street Jazz, Whacking & Vogue). I've dealt with it all, yet I still enjoy the art of dance because it's there when I need it the most.

Overcoming adversity has inspired me to not only continue on this journey, but to help inspire our youth and other up and coming dancers. Through teaching creative movement, I am able to teach my students not only the physicality of dance, but help them develop and learn confidence in anything and everything they do, dance related or not.

Dance was the only thing I had to physically show me that I am capable of great things. After adding social media to the mix, and believing in not just myself but my purpose, I began. I started memorizing choreography from videos by artists such as Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, Jennifer Lopez, NSYNC, Usher and Britney Spears. It wasn't until the age of 14 when I decided to pursue a career in the entertainment business.

To be praised and recognized by a variety of artists such as members of the Pussycat Dolls, MNEK, Former Danity Kane's Dawn Richard and Aubrey O'day, Pia Toscano, Trevor Jackson, Christina Milian, to starring in Grammy Award winning artists, A Great Big World's music video "Won't Stop Running," and even winning the opportunity to meet Jennifer Lopez. I am proof that everything is possible!

Recently I have trained with Beyonce's former backup dancer, Akira Armstrong, who is the pioneer of the plus size dance movement through her company, Pretty Big Movement.

I currently teach Girls Hip Hop & Beginner Street Jazz - Hip Hop classes at Studio 8 Sixty in Hartford, CT and Femmeology at D'Zire Dance Studio LLC.



"We all may encounter defeat but we must not be defeated." - Maya Angelou