SHUT UP & DANCE
Kyla Blacksmith is a sassy and sexy champion of body positivity, whose moves are inspiring everyday local women to shake it off
AFEW years ago, Kyla Blacksmith, was looking through some old possessions and came across her childhood journal. In it, she had written ‘I want to be a dance teacher when I grow up’.
That dream has been fulfilled. Kyla, aka K-dizz runs That’s My Jam Dance in Byron Bay and the Gold Coast. These are not your ordinary dance classes. These are celebrations of dance, self acceptance and body positivity.
“When I dreamt up That’s My Jam Dance, I envisioned holding a space for women to rediscover their love for dance, a place without judgement of skill or image,” Kyla says. “I wanted it to be a community of support and dancing, with people who have an understanding on the importance of having fun and savouring childish enthusiasm.
“We have a good time but it’s also a place where we can work hard to achieve goals that inspire us beyond the studio.”
Although Kyla believes she was destined to work in dance
(“We always come back to our truest self,” she says), the path wasn’t simple or easy.
“I went straight into work when I left school,” Kyla says. “I attended an audition when I left school to do a full time dance course, but the whole process felt egotistical, judgemental, and cut throat and I knew it wouldn’t suit me.”
It would, however, be an experience that would stick in her mind and later help inform the type of dance class experience she wanted to create for others.
“I have dabbled in a few different things to find my place, and eventually worked for a magazine and studied film – which have both been quite handy in running my business.
“Dance came back into my life about six years ago, thank god! “I got to a point a couple of years ago where I was ready to work hard for a life that I loved every day and had a strong vision of what I wanted it to look like.
“I think it’s our duty to share our gifts with the world and if we don’t there’s always a niggle inside that leaves you feeling like something is missing or a certain kind of sadness.”
Kyla says it was an otherworldly experience that put her back on the path that she had imagined as a child.
“I visited a brilliant psychic/life coach and she asked me what I most thought about – and of course the answer was dance.
“I choreographed, attended classes often and had a strong desire to be up the front of class leading. I wanted to create something of my own and had a deep desire to be part of a dance space that felt inclusive and that would leave students feeling loved and nourished. This is always the core value of what I do.”
Kyla describes That’s My Jam as “super fun and inclusive dance classes for women”.
Varying in style (but mostly sassy hip hop, and generally at a beginner level), the classes encompass the philosophy that everyone can dance.
“Our bodies are beautiful and we’re here to lift and inspire each other. There is loads of laughter, amazing and diverse women and high energy movement. I like to keep things creative and exciting,” Kyla says.
Talking about body positivity and including it in her work is hugely important to Kyla. That dedication comes from a very personal place.
“I have suffered eating disorders and body shame, and pretty much every woman I know has gone through the same or is still suffering,” Kyla says. “I loathe that the media gives us only one example of the way women should look. The billion dollar beauty and fashion industry is built on shaming women into feeling they’re inadequate.
“The average woman in Australia is a size 14 and yet the majority of fashion brands don’t include this size model in their campaigns. This makes us feel like we need to literally ‘fit’ in to be accepted by society.
“We need to give thanks that our bodies work, eat the food that make us happy and do exercise that nourishes our soul rather than purely doing things to look a certain way.
“Our bodies are perfect as they are and every wrinkle, roll and unique mark is a reminder that we are human and diversely beautiful. Ageing is another thing we need to embrace – it’s inevitable and a privilege.”
“We need to give thanks that our bodies work, eat the food that make us happy and do exercise that nourishes our soul rather than purely doing things to look a certain way.”