Bright, glowing and drop dead gorgeous. These were the first three words that came to my mind when Keeley Dann entered the room of her high heels dance workshop I signed up to. I decided to sign up as I needed something to boost my confidence and I always wanted to take up a dance class where I could feel sexy and cool, and this felt like the perfect spot.
Naturally, I felt slightly intimidated by her glowing presence and lightly tousled ombre blonde hair cut but because she was so welcoming and cheery to all of us she made us feel like we were all equally gorgeous and taught us how to channel our inner Sasha Fierce.
For me, it was the first time I’d actually danced in front of a mirror in about a decade. Having been shoved to the back in the dance classes I took as a kid, a confident dancer wasn’t a title I saw fit. Although, in recent years thanks to friends hyping me in the club I realised I’d somehow blossomed into a dope dancer and that day in Keeley’s dance class I got to see it for myself and felt amazing.
Keeley Dann is an acclaimed dance teacher who has performed on The BRITs stage in 2017, the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, The Diamond Jubilee Concert in 2012 and for The X Factor UK. She is a certified relationship and self love coach. From her glowing presence and accolades to her name, it’s refreshing to see someone reach meaningful success after overcoming a mass of trials that shaped them to be as impactful and fulfilled in what they do today.
Keeley’s trials started in childhood growing up in Mitcham, Surrey where she suffered racial abuse, she says “When I went to middle school, I had friends that were all white and as much as they loved me, they tried to say that I was one of them but then the black girls didn’t like me. I just didn’t fit in anywhere. Then the boys around my area were very racist so they didn’t believe in going out with any girl that had another ethnicity than white in them.”
The bullying took a real knock on her self esteem which made her question her beauty and her identity.
“I felt like I was abnormal, I felt like I was the odd one out. I remember just not liking myself and wishing I could be white. Wishing to be like all my friends and have their long blonde hair so the boys would fancy me since I didn’t think I was very pretty. I didn’t know my worth whatsoever because I was always made to feel like something was wrong with me.”
Thankfully dance became an outlet for Keeley, as she was inspired by watching an episode of Top of the Pops when she was 10 years old. From there she started taking disco dance classes and absolutely fell in love with dance as it became a main staple in her life.
“Over time, my friends dropped out of the classes which made me feel like I wanted to as well but I forced myself to stay because I enjoyed it so much. Then from there I went to the Brit school where I could actually dance during the day and do my GCSEs.”
From there Keeley went to The BRIT School where she further pursued dancing alongside studying for her GCSEs and then later went to study dance at vocational college.
“I ate, lived and breathed dance. It was my form of escapism, it gave me the determination to keep moving forward in my life [past the negativity I experienced growing up].”
In 2018, she started her empowerment dance classes as she wanted to uplift other women and earn extra money on the side.4
“I didn’t realised the style I developed and I had women coming out of my classes saying “I feel amazing after that, it’s really given me confidence.” I just realised that what I was doing was so natural to me because I was passionate about helping women feel good, empowered, motivated and inspired.
I really honed in to how I wanted other women to feel. When I do those kind of classes I feel great, I feel empowered, I feel sexy. Knowing I can give that feeling to other women is really fulfilling and makes my soul smile knowing that other women can come to my classes and feel that way because I’ve taught them to appreciate themselves and enjoy who they are. I love that feeling. When I start to see someone really come out of their shell and give me 200% and own who they are and how they’re moving, that’s wonderful to watch. “
Throughout her classes, it’s evident to see how Keeley’s positive energy cascades throughout the room. When asked where her positive energy stems from she relays it back to overcome the struggles in her childhood.
“It’s something that comes naturally but I used to be a really negative person which is quite funny and ironic.
I went through a lot of my life feeling misunderstood because I layered all these defences on me [from being bullied] so I didn’t know how to communicate, I didn’t know how to show up being me, I didn’t know how to deal with things in the right way. It’s really since going on my journey of self discovery and self love, I’ve been peeling away those layers to understand myself and be okay with who I am and be able to communicate my emotions better and change my perspective of life.
Before that things used to get to me a lot more – I had a lot of anger within me because I didn’t know how to access my emotions. I choose to be positive. I have days where I feel like shit.
I’ve been through so many things in life that I just trust myself that it’s another challenge that I’ll make it through. I really have that faith in myself. I think it’s always to say it coming out the other side, but having gone through some really dark periods and still being here to tell the tale as they say, gives me faith and confidence to know that when something is tough I can get out of it and just looking at what it is I need from myself to get past it.”
Keeley’s story is a beautiful example of how choosing yourself and despite the negativity that comes your way, you can always make it through to brighter days and create something beautiful out of your life.