Kelechi Okafor is an actress, director, and personal trainer. In 2016, Kelechi opened Kelechnekoff a fitness studio in London to encourage more women to utilise dance fitness as a form of self-discovery and healing.
How have you seen dance help women with their own body acceptance or insecurities?
I’ve seen dance used as a tool for transformation by so many women. It starts with a questioning of the beliefs that we hold about our bodies in relation to dance. What is a suitable body? What is an appropriate dance style? The questions tend to bring us back to what we have been conditioned to believe makes a respectable woman under the lens of the male gaze. The more women find joy through dance, I’ve seen them eschew the narratives fed to them over time about what is acceptable because they ultimately discover that we decide for ourselves what those parameters are.
Why do you feel it is important to reclaim dance styles that have been appropriated?
There is power in reclaiming dance styles because it undermines the fallacies concocted by white supremacy that most things were invented by white people, and therefore they have a claim to everything they desire. To reclaim dance styles that have originated in our cultures is to rewrite an inaccurate history and to legitimize the existence of talents and innovations that have long since been discredited. The whitewashing of cultural signifiers for the mainstream has meant that economically we are left shortchanged and simultaneously vilified for things we create and enjoy.