The Empowered Women series of posts are written for women, by women. We will be interviewing some incredible women from all walks of life. They will be sharing their wisdom, experiences, and amazing work to inspire us to live our best lives.
Next up in our Empowered Women series, I was lucky enough to speak to the incredible Aleta Thompson, international professional dancer, choreographer, and teacher at Pineapple Studios, London.
Dance & Choreography
Aleta on Youtube
Aleta on Instagram @missaletat
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and what you do?
I’m a professional dancer, choreographer, teacher and mentor. Although, I do less performing these days, and focus more on teaching and choreographing. I teach/choreograph all over the UK, Europe and internationally, and have been involved in various music videos, TV commercials and film through the years.
I have a mentoring programme called The Platform, which is for emerging and training female dancers, wishing to pursue professional dance careers. Mentoring and teaching, are huge passions of mine, I really enjoy seeing the progression in my students, even over the course of one class, or over a longer period of time. Being able to give back, and invest my time into the community and the growth of emerging dancers, is something really special.
I teach a style, which I coined, “Commercial Groove” – and as the name suggests, its commercially driven – appealing to the masses – in musical choice, aesthetic value in terms of shapes, but also with an emphasis on grooves, which underpins the whole style. For me, that’s the most important factor in dance. The groove is the authentic, purest form of dance, and it gets lost all too often. I want dancers to feel like their dancing, rather than just making pretty shapes. I want to cultivate that feeling, in its raw form, and celebrate that freedom.
What does empowerment mean to you?
Empowerment for me, is taking charge, its self-belief, its confidence, and owning your individuality.
I’m empowered because I know my strengths, and that gives me power. Power in my abilities, and skills. And that power gives me the opportunity to influence and inspire others, in the most positive, and uplifting way I know.
Being aware of my strengths, also allows me to see my weaknesses, and that awareness gives me the opportunity to strengthen those too.
Embracing who you are, gives you a power that nobody can ever take away from you.
What challenges have you faced recently?
Recently, I went through a period of tiredness. Both physically and mentally. I came back from a trip to LA, where I spent some of my time there training, which was the first time that I had been able to train properly in a long while due to injury. I felt as though I had lost time to make up for, so pushed myself physically and mentally beyond what was realistic.
I found that I was giving myself too much of a hard time, creating unrealistic expectations and pressure, which in the end, has the reverse effect, and just held me back from he progress I had initially set out to achieve. I was consumed with the idea, that whatever I did wasn’t good enough.
How did you overcome them?
I came back to who I am. With the help of discussions with family and friends, I came back to appreciating myself and my journey. Embracing the process and although I’m not where I want to be, I’m far from the person I was when I started my dance career.
I got out of my head, by just allowing myself to feel, rather than over think. And ultimately, the feeling is the reason we dance. I reminded myself to trust myself, and to be kind to myself.
We’re all going to have bad days, but the bad days don’t define us. What defines us, is our ability to push through.
What does self-love mean to you?
Positive affirmations, speaking kindness to yourself, acting with kindness towards yourself. Being patient with ourselves, and understanding that although we may not be perfect, we have the ability to evolve closer towards our greatest self every second of every day.
How do you look after yourself day to day?
I do whatever I want. If I have some spare time, and I want to eat biscuits while binge watching trash tv, then I do it, and I don’t beat myself up about it. I’m just mindful not to let that become habitual, because I’m aware that those things won’t fuel motivation. But downtime is important. I’ll listen to music, exercise – not always dancing, but I’ll jog, stretch, body condition. Eat some good food – I try to stay away from too much junk – but I’m certainly no health freak. I just try to find a balance, and don’t deny myself from things that I like or enjoy.
What do you do if you go off track?
I spend time self-reflecting, sometimes meditate, read books, write my feelings down. Talk to people – that’s something that I’ve only recently started doing.
There’s so much emphasis on spreading positivity, that I think people are reluctant to admit when they don’t feel good, out of fear of appearing vulnerable or being labelled negative.
We tend to always respond to a “how are you?” questions with the same generic, robotic response – “yeah I’m great!” Even when that’s far from the truth. Being honest to people, allows a new opportunity for conversation, that allows us to share a common human experience – which isn’t always glitter and rainbows. it allows us to connect with each other, and in doing so, helps us realise that when we feel down, we’re not isolated and we’re not crazy. I’ve had some really incredible conversations lately, that would never have happened, had I not been honest and admitted to how I was really feeling.
What advice would you give to other women to help them feel more empowered?
Discover your strengths. No matter how big, or small, its relevant to your character. And if you’re not able to recognise your strengths, ask your family and friends. Sometimes it takes other people to tell us things about ourselves that we’re not able to see. And when you can pinpoint what those strengths are, focus on them, and use them to build your confidence, and know that of all the people on the planet, there is no one like you.
So many people are ready to criticise, judge or bring you down – don’t join them. Be your own biggest fan!
What’s your favourite dessert?
This is probably the hardest question! I could eat Strawberries and Cream forever, but I feel like that’s not a proper dessert! So I’ll go with an equal tie between chocolate cake and syrup sponge!
Thank you very much to Aleta Thompson! Remember to subscribe to our mailing list to follow our Empowered Women series!