Multicultural dance club provides safe space and body positivity


Stormettes Dance Line performs mostly in the majorette genre but also does line dancing, contemporary jazz and ballet sometimes. Courtesy of the Stormettes.

A young woman of color enters her first week of college and no one really looks like her. Her body is changing and body dysmorphia is kicking in. She discovers that all she needs is a form of self expression and words of affirmation.

The Stormettes Dance Line is an Iowa State club that strives to act as a safe space for multicultural students and promote body positivity. They mostly perform at Iowa State events, like homecoming, along with DubH and Motion Sickness dance clubs.

The group’s main genre of dance is majorette, which originated in historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Majorette is bold, fierce, energetic and sexy, according to co-captain and treasurer of the Stormettes Nevaeh Belgrave.

“It’s kind of like putting your body out there showing like, ‘yeah, I can move like this, but I also love myself too,’” Belgrave, a sophomore in management information systems, said.

The Stormettes also do line dancing, contemporary jazz and a little ballet from time to time. The Stormettes are there to make their members feel good in their own skin to help prevent them from tearing themselves down, bit by bit.

“We brought on body positivity to like, relight that flame of ‘I love myself and I love my body,’” Belgrave said.

At their practices, they dance in the mirror and hype each other up with positive affirmations. Katiana Arnold, the group’s public relations chair and a junior in public relations, said it shows the girls they are not the only ones struggling with body dysmorphia.

“It pushes you to feel confident in the way that your body looks because it’s a lot of our arms; It’s a lot of showing your curves; It’s a lot of bending,” Arnold said.

There are many reasons people are drawn to dance.

“I enjoy the expression of dance,” said Laurna Evans Lindsay, the club’s president and a sophomore in human development and family studies. “You can say so much without saying nothing at all.”

Belgrave sees dance as a stress reliever and a distraction from what is going on. When she dances, she is focused on the dance and her mind does not wander somewhere else.

One of the main goals of the Stormettes is inclusivity and making members feel welcome.

In bigger clubs, members tend to get overlooked or make their own little groups within the big groups, according to Lindsay. She feels the Stormettes are more personable with their members. All of their pieces are also together, so there are no individual performances.

“With the Stormettes I feel like everyone just kind of comes together,” Lindsay said. “There’s no one person that’s left out, and there’s just so many different personalities and people that come from different backgrounds.”

Although it is a dancing club, members do not have to have previous dance experience to join. In fact, students do not have to dance at all and can still be a part of the club. There are several positions including president, secretary, treasurer and more for non-dancers to get involved.

Lindsay says the group was created for multicultural students but it is open to everyone to join.

“Students of color do not have a space a lot of times at a PWI [predominantly white institution] to feel comfortable around their peers,” Arnold said. “The Stormettes gives everybody an opportunity, but we’re really looking for that to be that space for people of color to thrive.”