Gladys Johnson entered the dance world via a Black Eyed Peas music video in 2009. After appearing in the “Hey Mama” hit, she went on to star in K-Swiss and AT&T commercials and become a backup dancer at the MTV Music Awards. Now, she is empowering Dallas women through her competitive dance team, Curvy Queenz.
“I was dealing with some insecurities about my own weight for years but noticed some curvy and plus-size dance friends were dealing with the same thing,” Johnson says. “But when they danced for me on different projects or came to my classes and workshops, they said it made them feel pretty and comfortable.”
Curvy Queenz's first team formed after tryouts in March. Originally a group of eight, the team now has six active members. They plan to perform during talent shows, fashion shows, competitions, corporate events, weddings and birthday parties. The team is accepting new members, and Johnson says no previous dance skills are required.
“I had curvy and plus-size friends that wouldn't come to class or even try because they were not comfortable in their own skin or with their weight,” Johnson says. “So I decided to create a curvy, plus-size environment for them where they could feel comfortable and not have to think about their weight or how they looked and could be in a room full of ladies just like them and do what they love.”
Can’t commit? Johnson hosts Curvy Queenz dance classes for the public at 3 p.m. every Sunday at Power House of Dance in Dallas. She also teaches a hip-hop class called GroovinWithGladys at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Each class is $15.
“I wanted to create a positive environment for the plus-size community,” she says. “I am helping them not care about weight. Helping them believe in themselves. One of the ladies told me I motivated her to get back into dance and pursue her goals. They may think I am helping them, but these ladies have been therapy to my soul. They bond. They encourage. It is so much more love and positive energy than what I expected.”
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The Curvy Queenz dance team has adopted the motto, “Dance has no size,” and the squad proves age and occupation don’t matter, either.
“Two of the ladies have twins,” says Johnson. “We have teachers, too, and the youngest is 21 years old. We welcome all curvy and plus-size women.”
Johnson’s other all-star dance career moments include appearances in the krump dance documentary Rize and Be Cool starring Andre 3000 and John Travolta. She also performed during a tribute to Rick James at the ASCAP Awards.
Learn more by following the Curvy Queenz of Dallas on Facebook and Instagram.