I LOVE highlighting the stories of women who are taking the lead in inclusivity.
There are only two words that come to mind when I think of Lily Christensen: girl power. Being the only woman dance leader in the Seattle salsa community has made Lily a go-to for dancers looking for a place where they can thrive and feel empowered. As a Latina businesswoman, Lily stands up to sexism, keeping her professionalism and voice on the forefront to carve out her own place on the dance floor.
While her business is dance, a lot of her passion lies in the preservation and continuation of Latin Culture, which is why she focuses on Latin dance and Latin music. She uses storytelling, movement, and modern culture to keep her style fresh. Studio Azul is a place where you can build your confidence through dance, fitness, and community.
This conversation is special to me because I spent 10 years competing, performing, and social dancing in the Seattle Salsa scene. It’s a place I always loved, but I definitely felt alone there. When Lily came to the scene, she opened up the inclusive space I wish I had known at the time I started.
Here are a few of my favorite topics on taking the lead:
-How Studio Azul builds a space to set people free and is an inclusive environment
-The difference between being sexy and sexualized
-How Instagram has fueled her advertising for free
-The challenges of being a woman leader in a male-dominated industry
-What to do when a workout isn’t for you
My biggest takeaways about inclusivity:
–There is more to salsa than I had thought. After 11 years, I was stuck in the same group without really venturing out to see how salsa had been evolving elsewhere. I wish when I had started there was a powerful leader in salsa like Lily. This was a big lesson on doing more research within your own industry or hobby. If you really like something and aren’t totally feeling like the space is right, reach out and find a new group.
-There is more work to do as a woman. I know that men are still dominating many industries, but every time I speak to someone about this, it fires me up again. Even though I may rub people the wrong way by approaching a conversation with confidence and strength, I’ve got to remember not to diminish my voice or presence to make myself smaller.
– The difference between sexy and sexualized. I know I’ve been judged by others when I tell them I was a dancer. I never became a salsa dancer because it was sexy—I became a salsa dancer because the music moves me. It lights me up. It’s a place where I can escape work, stress, and time. If I come across as looking sexy, it’s because I’m feeling powerful in that energy. That’s it.
I’d also like to know what your biggest takeaways are! What do you think about women taking the lead in inclusivity?
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Remember that everyday is a new day to make a positive change in your life. Be the light Lifepreneur. Thank you so much for spending time with me today, and I’ll catch you next time on the Lifepreneur Project Podcast.