akira-armstrong-dance akira-armstrong-dance
Facebook

Meet The Woman Paving The Way For Plus Size Dancers

Behold: the Pretty BIG Movement.

Dancer and choreographer Akira Armstrong is living proof that despite facing some pretty big challenges, nothing can get in your way.

As a plus size dancer, Armstrong overcame lots of judgment and body shaming. In a new mini-documentary on The Scene, the New York native discusses her experience in the dance world, and talks about her dance collective – largely of color – Pretty BIG Movement. The dance company is designed to give more voluptuous women opportunities in the dance world to showcase their talent.

After dancing for Beyoncé in 2007, for her “Get Me Bodied” and “Green Light” videos, Armstrong was rejected from representation by agents because of her size. She recalls her dimensions always being an issue for her.

“Growing up in a dance environment I did feel like my body was a negative,” she says in the video below. “My costume was always different than anyone else’s. I wanted to wear my stomach out. I have never been able to wear my stomach out ever. Family members used to make fun of me, and it was frustrating.”

Her main goal is to motivate other women and little girls, who are plus size, to dance and do whatever as they see fit.

“When they see us perform I want them to be inspired,” she adds. " I want them to feel like of they came in the room thinking that ‘these big girls ain’t really going to do it—I want them to leave like ‘I was blown away.’ I want the little girl that’s watching to be like ‘ hey ma I can do that too, look at these big girls with Afros on.”

The ladies of Pretty BIG Movement have taken the stage at venues like: the Female Hip Hop Honors, Ms. Full Figured USA Pageant, Ladies Of Hip Hop and Carnival, and were on Season 10 of America's Got Talent, reports Her Daily.

Get better acquainted with the collective holding it down for plus size dancers and choreographers; learn more about Pretty BIG Movement, here.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Gina Rodriguez attends the Paley Center For Media's 2019 PaleyFest LA - "Jane The Virgin" and "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend": The Farewell Seasons held at the Dolby Theater on March 20, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
JB Lacroix/Getty Images

Gina Rodriguez Issues Second Apology For Using The N-Word On Instagram

Gina Rodriguez has issued a second apology for her use of the n-word on social media.

On Tuesday (Oct. 15), the actress recited lyrics to The Fugees' 1996 single "Ready or Not" and posted it to her Instagram Story. Instead of using a portion of the song that didn't have the n-word in it, Rodriguez mumbled the n-word before snickering.

After critics pointed out her use of the word, she hopped back on social media to issue an apology. “ I just wanted to reach out and apologize," she said. "I am sorry. I am sorry if I offended anyone by singing along to The Fugees, to a song I love, that I grew up on. I love Lauryn Hill, and I really am sorry if I offended you.”

Her second apology was more detailed as she somewhat took accountability for her actions. “The word I sang carries with it a legacy of hurt and pain that I cannot even imagine,” Rodriguez wrote. “I feel so deeply protective and responsible to the community of color but I have let this community down. I have some serious learning and growing to do and I am so deeply sorry for the pain I have caused.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Gina Rodriguez-LoCicero (@hereisgina) on Oct 15, 2019 at 9:47pm PDT

But this didn't do much to smudge the pattern she has demonstrated towards conversations about blackness and identity. Critics returned to the many times in the past where the Jane The Virgin actress seemed to demean black issues. When Black Panther mania took over 2017, Rodriguez attempted to use the history-making moment to pivot to a demand for more Latinx actors in the Marvel and DC worlds.

“Marvel and DC are killing it in inclusion and women but where are the Latinos?! Asking for a friend...” Rodriguez said in a deleted tweet. Another moment where the actress took over a conversation about black women happened during an interview in September 2018. As Rodriguez and Smallfoot co-star Yara Shahidi spoke with entertainment journalist Blogxilla, he expressed how Shahidi was an inspiration to “so many Black women,” including his daughters. Rodgriguez chimed in saying, “So many women" which came off as an erasure of the topic of black women.

It all came to a head just a few months later when Rodriguez falsely claimed black actresses make more money than other women of color during Net-a-Reporter's roundtable discussion.

“I get so petrified in this space talking about equal pay, especially when you look at the intersectional aspect of it,” Rodriguez said. “Where white women get paid more than black women, and black women get paid more than Asian women, Asian women get paid more than Latina women, and it’s like a very scary space to step into.”

At the time, Modern Family's Sophia Vergara (who is Colombian) was famously the highest-paid actress on television followed by Kery Washington. After a tearful apology on Sway in the Morning for her comments, she pointed out how the black community has always been "family" to her and pointed out how her father is considered "dark-skinned" in Puerto Rico.

Lmaooooo @ Gina Rodriguez's "dark skinned" dad. Help. https://t.co/aBWhiUAfoc

— Monique Thee Auntie (@thejournalista) January 23, 2019

Hopefully, this incident will serve as a lesson for the actress. See more reactions from the incident below.

I’m convinced that Gina Rodriguez activates her anti-blackness in order to keep her name in peoples mouths. pic.twitter.com/AYcvKjh1LM

— Black Girls Book Club (@bg_bookclub) October 16, 2019

Gina Rodriguez apologies be like... pic.twitter.com/kcnHXdyvMW

— Kevín (@KevOnStage) October 16, 2019

nobody:#GinaRodriguez under her breath when she sees a black person after dark and subsequently crosses the street: pic.twitter.com/aTVqWRId0E

— Afropunzel (@afropunzelll) October 16, 2019

If Gina Rodriguez was a fan of #Blackish, she might've seen the backlash coming. 🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/iJX5sd2BIh

— Jonny Spook-tastico 👻 (@IAmJonnyApollo) October 16, 2019

I know Gina Rodriguez can be dense af but I don't get the selective outrage.

Cypress hill, J.lo, Fat Joe, Tekashi 69, lil pump and even Eminem have said the N-word a couple of times but she isn't allowed to say it even if she's singing along to a fugees track? https://t.co/hGeNBTTuCd

— Adunni Achebe (@Adunni_Achebe) October 16, 2019

This is NOT #GinaRodriguez’s first time saying Nigga. She’s been mad comfortable in her anti Blackness for much too long🙄, in fact I’d say it’s opened doors: pic.twitter.com/CXutE4oJsC

— 🌹Sheopatra IS WRITING🌹 (@SheopatraSmith) October 16, 2019

Continue Reading
Members of the public gather outside the funeral for Lesandro Guzman-Feliz on June 27, 2018 in New York. - Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, 15, was stabbed to death outside a Bronx bodega in an apparent case of mistaken identity.
DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

Five Gang Members Sentenced To Life In Prison For The Murder Of Lesandro 'Junior' Guzman-Feliz

Five members of the Trinitarios gang were given life sentences for their role in the tragic death of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz.

According to WABC, Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, 25, Jose Muniz, 23, and Elvin Garcia, 25, were all sentenced to 25 years to life. Because of his age, Manuel Rivera, 19, was sentenced to 23 years to life. The group of men was the first batch to be tried in the slaying of the 15-year-old, who died on June 2018. Earlier this summer they were found them guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, conspiracy and second-degree gang assault.

Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, 25, was also sentenced to life in prison without parole. He was the suspect who stabbed Junior in the neck, as seen in the harrowing surveillance footage from a nearby bodega.

“Certain words come to mind when I think about your involvement,” Judge Robert Neary told Martinez Estrella. “Senseless is one of these words. Savage is another word. But the one that often come to my mind is cowardly.”

In court, Estrella told the judge, "I'm sorry" and "My intention was not to cause death." He also blamed drugs, alcohol, and allegiance to the Trinitarios gang.

Junior's parents spoke out after the sentencing about their innocent child.

"That night, there were two deaths, Junior and I, who was left dead inside," Leandra Feliz said. "As a young boy, my son dreamed of becoming a detective, so he could protect this city...Please make sure my son's dreams come true. These killers should never be able to step out of a jail cell, so they know the moment they killed my son, they took their own lives as well."

Lisandro Guzman, Junior's father, also spoke about the grieving process. The family has faced heartache following the verdict after the sentencing was delayed three times.

"I struggle daily to find meaning in my life," he said. "I am no longer the person I once was. It is impossible to find a purpose in life. You will never have the ability to understand the pain that you caused. I will never forgive you. You deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law."

SENTENCING IN JUNIOR CASE: ESTRELLA: LIFE WITHOUT PAROLERIVERA: 23 TO LIFEMUNIZ: 25 TO LIFESANTIAGO: 25 TO LIFEGARCIA: 25 TO LIFE #JUSTICEFORJUNIOR

— Anthony Carlo (@AC_TV12) October 11, 2019

Continue Reading
Fat Joe performs on stage during Rihanna's 5th Annual Diamond Ball Benefitting The Clara Lionel Foundation at Cipriani Wall Street on September 12, 2019 in New York City.
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Diamond Ball

Fat Joe Responds To Claims Of Appropriating Santería Culture In "Yes" Video

Fat Joe has offered apologies to those who interpreted a homage to Santería as an insult in his new video "Yes" featuring Cardi B and Anuel AA.

Released Monday (Oct. 7) the video, directed by Eif Rivera, features stereotypical music video troupes like women twerking under neon fluorescent lights. In addition to standout verses from Cardi B and Anuel, the visual includes a moment where a group of women takes part in the Lucumí religion. It's paired with the song's sample, "Aguanile" by the late salsa legend Héctor Lavoe. The moment is fairly quick but this didn't stop many from raising a brow to it.

As Joe promoted the video on Twitter, one user called him out for allegedly appropriating spiritual practice. "You disrespected the Lukumi religion. How are you going to take our religious imagery and sacred music and pervert it with "Ass up face down?" the user said. "Falta de respeto the Orishas will take everything away from you one by one! There was no reason for this."

Joe explained how it was an essential blessing to the intro and Lavoe, who also practiced Santería.

"We tried to pay respect at the intro of the video everyone who took part of this video knew the concept," he said. "We have nothing but respect Hip hop has always taken samples and flipped it into something new I tried to pay homage. Sorry, you took offense, I understand."

We tried to pay respect at the intro of the video everyone who took part of this video knew the concept, we have nothing but respect Hip hop has always taken samples and flipped it into something new i tried to pay homage sorry you took offense i understand https://t.co/R6E2dgljmA

— FAT JOE (@fatjoe) October 9, 2019

Hailed as a salsa pioneer in New York during the golden age of the genre, Lavoe was a beloved musician who helped popularize salsa with albums like Cosa Nuestra, De Ti Depende and Comedia. "Yes'" sample "Aguanile" comes from his eighth album, El Juicio. 

Watch "Yes" and the homage of sorts below.

Continue Reading

Top Stories