By Nathalie Bonney @NathalieBonney
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Videographer / director: Adams Wood, Andrew Anderson
Producer: Nathalie Bonney, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal
Charity Holloway, founder and choreographer of plus-sized dance crew 4Thirty-Two, recently held the group’s fourth annual auditions.
The Charlotte, North Carolina-based squad looked to add to its roster of talented dancers with try-outs open to women of all sizes.
Ahead of the auditions, Charity told Shake My Beauty: “There is no girl on this planet too fat to dance. I’m just looking for that little spark of light that I can turn into a star.
“This could be their one big chance to dance and shine like they’ve never done before. If they are brave enough to turn up then they deserve a chance.
“Dancing saved my life and maybe it will save someone else’s life too.”
Founded in 2016, 4Thirty-Two promotes the idea that being big doesn’t stop you from being a good dancer.
Charity added: “We are here to shatter those horrible expectations people have for us; those horrible thoughts, those unfavourable opinions and just break those stereotypes”
The young business owner maintained a passion for dance since a young age; performing in church, middle school, and high school, despite being told as a teenager that she was “too fat to dance.”
Hearing judgmental comments such as this took a toll on her mental health, until she began focusing on trying to feel healthier rather than trying to look thinner.
4Thirty-Two was born out of this newfound self-respect and has been incredibly successful, with the group travelling the world to perform.
Hoping to join the squad on future trips was prospective member Torie, who was nervous as the auditions got underway.
“I’m going to miss a line,” she said as she geared up to dance. “It’s been forever for me since I danced. I was 18 and I’m 30-ish now, so forever.
“But when I get out there and dance y’all see the real me for the first time in forever.”
Held over two days in July, the auditions were a chance for hopefuls to show how quickly they could pick up choreography, as well as how well their personality would fit with the group.
Captain of the squad, Ebony, alongside Creative Director, Alex, and Charity’s mentor Allison made up the judging panel for what proved to be the largest turnout for auditions in the group’s history.
10 more women than last year attended this year’s auditions, while 14 girls were called back for a second day of auditioning, with Torie among the successful auditionees.
“It was harder than I thought,” she said. “But I kind of knew it was going to be tough because I’ve seen the videos, I follow them on Instagram those girls can dance.
“So I had the expectation that it’s going to be hard, but I finished it so I’m excited. I’m glad we made it.”
Gee, who also made it through the first round, said: “This has been an amazing experience. I feel like I'm finally doing something with a purpose.
“And to be a part of such an inspirational group is definitely going to be a life-changer.”
And once day-two came around, Torie once again impressed the judges, managing to secure her place among the other plus-size dancers with a permanent spot on the squad.
Charity said: “Torie has that swag and she was just really heart-felt. I just felt her heart pour out when she danced.”
Although Charity set out to add two new women to her squad, four members made the cut, with Torie, Natasha, Tiara, and Sesame all being taken on.
“I really loved Natasha,” added Charity. “She was that ‘wow’ dancer, she just came out of nowhere, I can tell that she is just this fire cracker so I really love that about her.
“And then we have Tiara. What I love about Tiara is that she is just so expressive, she is small but she dances really big so I just felt her personality come out.
“And Sesame has swag. She will fit in really well with a lot of my group already because she already has that swag.”
And while the auditions were a chance a big success for the dance crew, not every aspect of the event was easy for Charity.
“The one thing I struggle with as a judge is that we are built on body positivity,” she said. “We want to encourage people, we want to tell them to love themselves, so when you have to reject women it is so hard.
“That’s why I say that I want to work on ways of getting people involved even if they don’t make the auditions.”
Despite most women going home without a spot on the crew, many were invited back for next year’s auditions, and in the meantime 4Thirty-Two has seen its numbers increase yet again, and its success continue.
“It was really hard to choose between those 15 girls,” said Charity. “They were all so great but I do think that the four girls that we did choose are going to be awesome, they will fit right in.
“I think this group we have is great. It’s going to be great to go out there and break those barriers, change those stereotypes, prove people wrong, and just do it. I feel good.”