Body Love and Hip Hop Moves with K-Dizzle - That's My Jam Byron Bay
It's been over a year since K-Dizzle aka Kyla Blacksmith enticed me into her Hip Hop Dance Classes at That's My Jam in Byron Bay.
How could I resist the moves, beat and ballads from the likes of Beyonce, J-T, Will Smith and Salt'n'Pepa - like yeh, I signed up straight away!
If I can recall, Mariah Carey was up first and I instantly adored the routine, sass and the instant girl group that formed after waiting for this Hip Hop revolution to upturn the Byron Bay scene.
Kyla's classes are full of legends and a bit of cheese and the best routines a girl could ask for; Beyonce, Janet Jackson, Flume, Missy Elliott, Will Smith, Pussycat Dolls and most recently Bruno Mars feat Cardi B, Finesse Remix.
I've been talking to Kyla about what got her back into dance and how she is changing the norm in beauty; her strong confidence in her own skin has been a positive and refreshing perspective that is so much more real than anything I have ever read in glossy teen and glamour mags.
See the full Dance Shoot Campaign Here ....
What is That's My Jam?
That's My Jam teaches strong and sassy hip hop dance in Byron Bay and beyond. We aim to empower and connect women through fun and creative dance classes. We are inclusive, encourage individuality, confidence and promote body love.
What inspired you to start That's my Jam ?
Truthfully I started That's My Jam because there weren't any dance classes I wanted to attend and was tired of feeling like a number and a bit bored of the monotony of dance classes on offer. Dance classes often felt clicky and judgey to me so I wanted to create something that felt open, warm and exciting to attend. I knew what I cared about, dance as a creative expression, women feeling confident in their bodies and good, loud music. Alas That's My Jam was born!
You have been dancing all your life, tell me about your dancing style and how you got into it?
Dancing has always been a huge part of my life, music and dance runs deep and is really celebrated in my family. As a child I was constantly choreographing, creating and performing shows, it drove my parents nuts, haha, but they were always really supportive. They knew it was my thing and didn't push me to focus on anything else. Apparently I would speak with movement - my language has always been dance.
I started ballet when I was 3 and followed with jazz, then discovered and fell in love with hip hop. I've luckily always had really great and inspiring teachers so I know what a good dance class entails. I stopped dancing for a little while after high school, well at least with much less intensity. I was heart broken after a dreadful auditioning dance teacher told me I was too fat and didn't have enough technique to be professional. At this point I had an eating disorder and did nothing but work on my technique. I never told anyone and hid my shame for years and into my mid twenties. No one understood why I stopped dancing.
As you can imagine my dancing dreams were crushed. Until I moved to Byron Bay and rediscovered my love and passion for dance. Byron Bay gave me confidence to be who I was, people were accepting and encouraging. My dance style is a fusion of all that I have learnt and been inspired by over the years, hip hop, jazz, contemporary, lyrical etc. I love strong and sexy movement that makes you feel something and search within yourself.
What can a new dancer with no experience expect from your classes?
A new jammer can expect a friendly and humorous environment, high energy warm up and a choreography challenge with a lovely meditative cool down.
Students who show up every week are the dancers who get the most out of it. Rome wasn't built in a day, learning dance takes time, patience, focus and a love for it. Some beginner students come to one class never to return, others come to every class they can, practice, persist and get totally addicted. It's a very healthy addiction, haha! The key to success is repetition and practice and that's with anything you want to achieve.
Fave artists and songs for 2018?
Ooh that's a tricky one because it's always changing but I am obsessed with the song 'Lemon' at the moment by N.E.R.D and Rihanna, they are artists who seem to always get it right. Of course (I love) Beyonce, she is the epitome of hard work, persistence and empowerment. I love discovering indie artists such as Kaiit and 30/40. I listen to a great diversity in music but I am often drawn to female singers who write from the heart and music that has a heavy drum beat. South African blood runs through my veins and I'm always searching for that song that makes me want to krump and chest pump. Cardi B is rocking hip hop at the moment and that's really cool. The hip hop scene has been dominated by men for way too long.
You are very confident within your body and style, what tips can you give young girls about loving the body they live in?
I was born with a body of curves and it has taken me a while to learn to love them. If I had a dollar for every time I've been called fat or asked if I was pregnant I'd be a millionaire. No one should ever comment on a persons weight, it simply isn't important or anyone else's business. I come from a family of curves and an obsession of food, haha! Quite the combo and I love it!
I've suffered on and off from eating disorders from when I was teen up until a few years ago. It still pops it's head up from time to time. It's really taken a lot of strength and work to get to a point of looking in the mirror and feeling love and gratitude for the body that carries me through life. I hope that I can teach women in my class to do the same and I think it's happening. You really have to appreciate your working body and good health - not everyone has that and we take it for granted. I'm truly tired of the media and society creating a cookie cutter image for the norm. If I could change one thing in the world it would be for women to love their bodies as they are. Let's use our brain and thinking power for more important subjects.
What do you think are the most damaging things that teens experience in body appearance that need to change?
The most dangerous thing for teens these days is social media and having a constant feed of comparison that does the opposite of nourish. It's a frightful and lonely platform for vulnerable teens to put themselves out there with all the opportunity to be criticized and scrutinized with no way of protection. Women need to show themselves with rawness on Instagram to help pave the way for teens, not construct the perfectly tanned, skinny image of yourself, with a dead pan expression or your models in a teensy bikini dipping toes into turquoise waters with no hint of flaws in sight. It's just not real, even the captions are bland and thoughtless. I'm starting to feel that it's the image that the Byron brand is being built on. Hopefully I can help disrupt that and show some truth by doing things like this interview. My fat and cellulite is plainly shown in all of these images and I'm not ashamed, it's a body that lives an exciting and enriched life.
There are often labels for a body image that is not seen as 'normal' which carry a negative outlook; plus size, curvy, etc - what do you think of labels like these?
The curvy label shouldn't even be a thing - it should just be "hey we make clothes for every size and here is a bunch of images of a diverse range of women modeling our clothes". It upsets me that I feel shocked when I see a curvy model in an otherwise always 'skinny' model feed. It shouldn't be that way, it should be constantly balanced. Most, if not all women have experienced body issues - so the females leading the fashion industry should know better and do the right thing rather than trying to make loads of money.
We love your style but there often misconceptions for how certain body shapes should be dressing, what are you styling tips?
I simply wear what I want, I don't dress to my curvy body type. There's no wrong or right to the clothes you wear - fashion is about expressing yourself. I wear whatever makes me feel good, some days it's a crop top, other days it's baggy overalls and a slouchy t-shirt. I like short skirts, flowy skirts, all dresses, tight singlets, men's shirts, leotards, I love it all. Life's a party and we should dress for it! The only thing I don't like to wear is jeans, haha I hate them and feel like I can't be myself. I don't care if people are offended by fat, they need to get over it because it's apart of life. Some people have it, others don't and it doesn't always mean that a person with fat or no fat is unhealthy. I'll honestly say that i'm a lot healthier now than when I was obsessing over calories and a size 8. I felt terrible mentally and physically and was constantly hungry. I was fixated with declining numbers on a scale. Everyone has a different body type and this is what I was given and I'm going to 'roll' with it.
How can we influence the industry to change the representation of what is thought to be a 'normal' body shape?
Fashion labels and the media need to include people of cultural diversity, shapes and sizes.
You have a healthy, active lifestyle, what have you learnt about your diet and daily routine to empower yourself and stay healthy?
I know what kind of food I love, I like bread, cheese, pasta, coffee, loads of veg, tropical fruit, occasionally meat and sugar when I'm pre-menstrual or exhausted. And I don't deny myself any of it because it's bloody delicious and life's too short! I love quality ingredients, food made with love and will always spend a little more because it's your fuel and you get what you pay for. I love to dance obviously and will attend as many classes as I can afford, I like boxing because it helps me deal with emotions I need to process, I love walking, riding bikes with my hubby and have a great love for swimming! So yes, I feel balanced and vitalized! My routine is wake up, make Vietnamese coffee, eat the food that I feel like, choreograph at home or in the studio and hopefully find time for a walk, swim or attending a class. Unfortunately yoga bores me to tears and I'm no longer going to pretend I like it, haha. I like to try things that put me out of my comfort zone.
Who do you follow on Instagram or blogs for style, music and body empowerment?
I love Drew Barrymore, Olivia Wilde, Rihanna, The League Women, Elephant Journal, Pink Matter Culture, Spiritual AF, Jade Bug, Girl Boss, Constance Hall, Clementine Ford, Lena Dunham, Womankind and Dumbo Feather Magazine, Lonely Label, Her Pony for sparkles and of course Liar the Label for it's style and ethics!
What is on the horizon for That's my Jam?
We're expanding! Although it's tricky because the classes are a strong reflection of me I'm hoping to find passionate and fabulous teachers to help me spread the jam! We have just moved into our very own studio and are hoping to offer diverse styles. We have just launched a class for teens and added a new location! Phew! I'm hoping to continue walking into the studio with a room full of people, wearing a crop top and leading dance bearing a huge smile.
Make sure you check our That's My Jam if you in the Northern Rivers area or surrounding! Book a class or a get together with mates and laugh with enjoyment for over an hour!