It’s Friday and this means we get to introduce another incredible woman to you all! This week’s #FEMMEFEATUREFRIDAY is Liana Blackburn. Not only is Liana a great friend, but she is also part of our YGTG family as she was our guest teacher in Calgary this February! When the time came for us to add a new teacher on our faculty, there was no question about it; we knew it had to be Liana. Liana’s versatility is what makes her such a valuable teacher, choreographer, and dancer, and her passion, enthusiasm, and love for dance is undeniably contagious!
Her talent and vivacious spirit have allowed her to work with many individuals at the top of their field. She has worked for Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, Nick Jonas, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Ricky Martin, Kylie Minogue, CeeLo, Glee, Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, Fresh Beat Band, X Factor, Cirque Du Soleil and more. She performed with Selena Gomez on her "REVIVIAL" world tour as a dancer and Dance Captain, as well. Liana also teaches amongst the incredible faculty at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles, she travels on convention with Hollywood Dance Jamz, and she has recently created her very own Body Language heels class that takes place at Evolution Studios. She knows how to stay busy and put positive intention into everything she does!
As if Liana wasn’t enough of a role model for our YGTGirls already, she is also responsible for creating the incredible healthy, clean-eating lifestyle blog called DailyDancerDiet (dailydancerdiet.com). She completely turned her eating habits around, since she spent most of her life being a picky and unhealthy eater. Along her journey, she realized that as a dancer/athlete her mind and body is her temple. She now strongly believes that knowing and understanding how to take care of it and maintaining the lifestyle that is required for her profession is extremely important. We really admire how excited she is about inspiring and helping others discover their own journeys to healthy happiness! Thank you Liana for being a constant source of passion and inspiration.
How did you become a clean eating enthusiast while traveling the world as dancer with some of todays top artists in the business?
It wasn’t until I was 25, in the middle of a world tour with Kylie Minogue, that I found myself uncontrollably crying in the makeup chair because I was so uncomfortable in my skin. And when I say skin, I don't mean metaphorically I mean physically, my skin. Cystic acne had taken over the entire bottom half of my face and my neck. After a life long complete disregard to the term “You are what you eat,” my stubborn french fry eating mouth stopped complaining and finally started listening. My body had been trying to talk to me for years but I couldn’t hear it. Not
until I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without disgust, embarrassment, and shame.
This moment of initial defeat turned into the very thing that would change my life forever. I heard my body talking to me, and it said that I have the control to make the changes I want to see. After hours of research and typical doctor visits, I realized the common solution to so many medical issues is not a solution at all
...it is a distraction. Every doctor I saw offered "solutions" that only help to keep symptoms dormant by not treating the source of the problem at all. I truly began to believe in the miracle that is the human body and that it has capability beyond comprehension. All I had to do was empower it. I decided that no matter how long the journey would be, I would nourish myself without chemically enhanced medicine. I was going to treat my body with food.
What obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are now?
Through this journey, one of my biggest obstacles was fear. The fear that people wouldn’t be able to look past my acne and see the real me. That fear manifested itself in many ways. I would almost never leave the house without makeup on. I wouldn’t go in the ocean or any water. I would stay away from the sun or bright light. I would wear scarves to cover my neck and hats to keep my hair in my face, and if I wasn’t engaged in conversation my head would always be down. These are all things that became my norm. But the thing that affected me most of all was that I wouldn’t let my husband touch my face. I would cringe every time he did it, and it killed me.
Although I would physically hide behind makeup, scarves, and hats, I would never hide inside myself. I used my passion, my personality, my strengths, my relationships, and even my dancing to help me rise above my insecurity. And although the physical skin I was in didn’t reflect the person I wanted to see, I refused to allow it to define me.
We love that you started Daily Dancer Diet to share your knowledge with others! Can you tell us
about how this experience has shaped you as a woman?
Giving myself the challenge of treating my body with food has given me patience, courage, strength, and the belief that I can do anything. To watch, listen, and feel my body change as a result of something I am doing naturally is magical. It has empowered me to know that we already have the tools we need to create the life that we want. We just have to decide which tools we want to use to get there. Regardless of what the scale says, or how my leggings fit on a certain day, I have become kind and understanding to my body. I know that I am doing the absolute best I can.
A women’s body is beautifully crafted with the ability to create life and I never truly understood how to honor it before. DailyDancerDiet has helped me take on the responsibility of encouraging women that their bodies are worth honoring. And that mindfully choosing what you do with your time, and what you put in your body is a key way to honor it.
What's the advice that you received along your journey that you felt made a difference?
OOOO, so MANY!!! I am constantly taking in advice and listening to people I love and trust. But I am going to go really specific and tell you a story for this one! I was scheduled to perform in a burlesque show called Harlow Gold and my skin was so bad. It was covered in cystic acne, inflamed, and raw to the touch. This was common for me, and I had performed hundreds of times like this before. But this night, I could not get up the courage to coat myself in makeup and get on that stage. I was past embarrassment, I was past shame, I was just in pain. So I sent a text to the choreographer and told her that I couldn’t do the show, because there was no way I could let myself be a work of art that evening. She knew exactly what I was going through with my skin, and called me immediately. What she began to tell me changed me forever. That the imperfections of my skin had played a huge role in making me uniquely the woman, the performer, and the artist that I am. And that every time I had pushed past my insecurity and got onto that stage, that I was serving a purpose beyond myself. I was showing all the woman and men in the audience that perfection is in the imperfection. All this time I had been pushing my acne aside, as if it were not a part of me, when it was. My imperfect skin was part of my perfection, and what a gift it was to have the confidence to share that with the world and empower other women. I did not perform the show that night, but this was a concept I could grasp mentally. It definitely wasn’t easy to apply. I needed time with it, and that is perfectly fine.
What is your definition of a YGTGirl?
A YGTG girl is supportive, honest, compassionate, and wildly free. FREE OF EXCESS FEAR!!! She speaks her mind with dignity and respect. She listens with an open heart and an open mind. She accepts people for who they are, and can agree to disagree. She loves hard, works hard, and plays hard. She is a force to be reckoned with, who leads by example. With nothing to gain but love.