This plus-size ballerina is shattering stereotypes about ballet

By Litaletu Zidepa
14 May 2016

Meet Illiana Vera, a classically trained ballerina who dropped her tutu and turned to burlesque to celebrate her curvy figure.

A photo posted by Frostine Shake(@frostineshake) on

The dancer was 17 years old when she decided that ballet was not fit for her. The 30 year old told Buzzfeed that the constant reminder for her to shed weight was the reason she gave up ballet after 12 years of brutal training. “I just could not meet the demands of my instructors, and I didn’t really want to either,” she said. “I started to explore different types of dance that gave me freedom to express myself in a body-positive way,” adding that at just 18, turning to the much sexier and dramatic Burlesque style showcased her "love of dance, art, music, and fashion."

A photo posted by Frostine Shake (@frostineshake) on

Fondly known as Frostina Shake by her Instagram followers, the model says Burlesque has helped her discover different types of dancing that have given her the freedom of expressing her body in an empowering and positive way.

Read more: This plus-size model had the perfect response to body shamers everywhere Naturally, Illiana started incorporating her ballet with some of her burlesque performances, and her friends are always there to lend a helping hand. “They helped me brush up on my skills, and they allowed me to go at my own pace,” she admitted. “I like the structure and discipline that it takes to perform ballet,” she said.

A photo posted by Frostine Shake(@frostineshake) on

As a way of encouraging others and promoting body-positivity, the University of North Texas BFA Graduate documents her shows and dance moves to more than 9 000 followers. Read more: ‘I live with my skin now’: Burn survivor runs fashion blog to urge others to embrace their scars

A photo posted by Frostine Shake(@frostineshake) on

“I get most of my posing, hand movements, and gestures from the grace of ballet — it makes me feel elegant and strong.”

Illiana says young dancers should stick to ballet if they love it, but it’s okay if they’re interests change.

Read more: This girl was bullied for her prom photos, but the internet was having none of it

“If your goals are to become a principal dancer, don’t give up like I did,” she said. “But also remember to put your dignity and beliefs first.”

“Dance makes my body feel alive, and I try my best to do the art form justice — this includes loving my body.”


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