Auti Kamal is no joke when it comes to dancing. The master dancer/choreographer and founder of Bodyspeaks, a contemporary dance company in Southern California, has had her work featured on The World of Dance, Club Jete, the Dance Magazine, and has even been seen in the faculty alongside the alums of So You Think You Can Dance. She has also attracted a large audience to her Youtube platform with over 16 million collective views and over 100K subscribers, where she creates and promotes "all things dance."
But above all, she values kindness, self-love, body confidence, and joy in her viewers and students from all across the world. As her positive platform continues to grow, she continues to inspire others to pursue their dreams in an encouraging yet authentic way. As a lover of dance herself, I sat down with Auti in an interview to learn more about her journey in professional dancing and how she spreads positivity through her Youtube channel and career.
For a brief introduction, how did you first start getting into dance? What aspect of it do you feel attracted you the most to it?
I started dancing when I was just a little lady, at three years old! My mom, who is one of my best friends, put me in ballet and I fell in love. The rest truly is history- it very quickly turned into who I am. As cheesy as this sounds, dance has always been a constant, no matter what else is going on around me. I could be having the most wild season of life and the moment I'm in the studio or creating movement to a piece of music, I'm grounded and present. It's the biggest love of my life.
Why did you decide to start a Youtube channel? What would you like our readers to know about your goals and accomplishments on Youtube?
I actually started a Youtube channel for a college project. We could either perform a dance live or create a dance video. I thought the video option sounded super cool, so I tried it and a spark was lit. Fast forward six years later when I took the leap to launch "Miss Auti", the channel. My channel has content on anything and everything dance! I cannot express my gratitude enough to each of my beautiful supporters- I have SO MUCH fun creating my vlogs and choreography videos. My biggest hope for the channel is simply to inspire and encourage. I have learned a lot throughout my dance career and I just want to help others who love to dance- whether it's as a hobby or professionally. I want others to know they are capable and worthy of their biggest dreams!
What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome during your dance career? How did you overcome it?
A big hurdle I have learned how to navigate is comparison- oh my goodness! I grew up as a competitive dancer, so looking at what others are doing was part of the deal. I learned later on that that doesn't translate well in other parts of the dance world. If you are always focusing on others' success, all of these thoughts of self-doubt creep in. It's so natural, but I knew it had to be fixed because my energy was going towards comparison instead of my own growth and confidence. I came to understand that my path is going to look much different than other dancers- there are so many possibilities in the art world, there is no "better" or "worse". The best way to avoid the craziness of it all is to live your truth, which means choosing what feels good in your heart and not what looks impressive to everyone else.
What advice do you have for beginners who would like to get into dance? (Primarily those who are self-conscious about their bodies and their confidence, how would you encourage them to love themselves and to love dance?)
To any beginner out there who is maybe intimidated by the dance world or worried about their bodies and confidence, my biggest advice is to dance for you. Let go of others' expectations, the "norm" set by society, and the image of what things should be. Much easier said than done Miss Auti! I know. But, it's so important that you create the experience you want to have. Take your time to find a studio or program that is welcoming and positive, a space that you feel comfortable to be your authentic self in- a space that encourages you to reach your full potential- filled with like-minded, loving peers. Before anything you have to believe in yourself, even if just a smidge. That little smidge will get you in the door- the first step to an incredible journey of learning about yourself through dance. You can't have growth and self-love without a little bit of discomfort- so be brave and go for it.
What is the most rewarding thing you have learned throughout your entire journey?
Out of everything I have learned, I think the most rewarding has been understanding that it's never too late to recreate yourself. Each dance lets you tell a different story and I think everyday is just the same. Who says you have to remain the same or stay on the path you're currently on? Each day, each month, each year is a chance to evolve and become who you want to be. You are never stuck. The limits you think exist are created by you. You owe it to yourself to lift those limits, go after your soul purpose, and to not be afraid of change. Above all- life and dance are what you want them to be and it starts with the reality you build for yourself.
Feature image credits to Brayden Curtis, courtesy of Auti Kamal