Social Icon Interviews: Liana Blackburn
On healing perfection, embracing emotional intelligence, and the
food that fuels her
Liana Blackburn @dailydancerdiet can’t be described with a simple label or title. Yes, she’s a professional dancer, but she’s so much more — a teacher, a coach, an inspiration, a health-conscious recipe creator, a sustainability advocate, and an entrepreneur. Like many of the Social Icons we have the joy of interviewing, she is multi-faceted and multi-passionate in her endeavors and it shows!
Dance is one of of those things that seems to intimidate people if you didn’t start as a child. That’s something we should change, because dance (with the right teacher and environment) can be a space to explore yourself in new ways, make friends, laugh, de-stress, and stay fit doing something fun!
If you live in LA, please give yourself the gift of attending one of Liana’s classes. Even if you’re a beginner, she has a Body Language 101 class open to everyone! She also offers private lessons not only for dancers, but musicians, actors, artists - people of all levels of dance experience. For intermediate/ advanced dancers, she has a workshop intensive called The Body Language Experience; the next one is in NYC in July. Follow her on Instagram for class updates (and SUPER fun videos of her and her students dancing)!
Q: Your Body Language dance class is so unique and unlike any other classes I’ve personally taken! What inspired you to Start Body Language and why do you think it’s been so well received?
A: Body Language was born when I recognized that I had a void in my life. I was missing a feeling that I had felt from dance in my past: the feeling of complete empowerment with purpose and a sense of play. I wanted to take control of my relationship with dance and up the frequency at which this feeling could be experienced.
Instead of waiting for the next opportunity to come, I created it myself. The point of class has never been about creating and teaching cool choreography.
I chose to teach the class in heels, not to highlight it as a “heels” class, but to demonstrate that I don’t believe “heels” is a style of dance. I believe it is just a shoe - it changes your weight distribution, and you can do anything and say anything in a heel if you’re trained properly. The class is designed to give a space for dancers to explore their point of view, their purpose behind the movement, THEIR PERSONAL LANGUAGE that can be expressed through their BODY!
I see how much dancers are focused on their physical reflection, and not focused enough on their internal reflection, and I wanted this to change. Now I know that many others want a space to explore the same thing. The reason I feel people leave class so inspired is because Body Language teaches how to view dance as a conversation and not just a combination. It gives permission to explore yourself creatively without judgement, with the objective being COMMITMENT. Fully commit to yourself and your point of view in the moment. Body Language puts the power back into the artist in you.
Q: Something you said during class really stuck with me: that the word “perfect” was not allowed in your class - that dancing was not about getting the combination perfect. This can apply to SO much outside of dance, especially for women today with the social pressures to feel perfect all the time…
What advice do you have for letting go of perfection?
A: Firstly, I think the label of calling yourself a “perfectionist” is what needs attention. This label is something many people identify with and are seemingly proud of. This can be detrimental for some. If the perfectionist within you is preventing you from creating, from putting yourself out there, from making moves in your life in the direction you want to go, perhaps it is time to change the “perfectionist” label to something else that gives you room to explore.
I personally am not a fan of any labels, and I am a big fan of affirmations. I have found it life changing to repeat affirmations EVERY DAY, especially any time I am faced with the “perfectionist” within myself getting in my way. This is my all-time favorite affirmation: “I am completely committed, yet unattached.”
This allows the perfectionist within me (who cares a lot about what I am doing) to have a job to do, which is to COMMIT as much as I can to the present moment. And, at the same time, it reminds me to detach my expectations of any pre-determined result, or how we want this moment to impact ourselves and/or others.
The RESULT is what I believe the “perfectionist” within us is fully focused on and is exactly what can hold us back. When I release the pressure of the expectation, and bring myself to a moment-to-moment commitment of the journey, that’s where the magic happens.
Q: I love that you say “Food is my Medicine, Dance is my drug.” You have such an amazing commitment to preparing your own food for your everyday life AND even making food to take when you travel.
Do you have any top tips for helping make healthy food on the go easier?
A: MEAL PREPPING! The biggest excuse that I hear from people is “I don’t have time.”
Anyone that has ever consistently meal prepped for their weeks, or even a few days, KNOWS how much time you actually save. To me, “Healthy food on the go” means I have already cooked/prepared the healthiest options for my body WAY BEFORE I am on the go, so all I have to do is grab and go! ALL food can be taken “on the go” if you have the right tools.
Discover what type of healthy food your body loves and get the right non-plastic containers to carry them in (glass, silicone, stainless steel, etc.). Combine the right containers with an insulated lunch box or bag, ice packs, reusable cutlery, and containers for your liquids and you are good to take anything healthy with you!
I never leave the house without food and liquids regardless of how long I think I might be gone for - whether it’s 2 hours or 2 weeks! Also, if I am traveling out of town to stay in a hotel, I pack my food (of course) and call ahead to make sure I have a refrigerator in the room.
A few of my favorites are…
Soup & Salad on the go
SOUP: I drink my soups out of a glass water bottle, and usually cold. Try it, it’s great!
SALAD: Salad made with non-wilting ‘inGREENients’ are great for traveling/long-term food, and there’s no cooking involved so it’s FAST! Try picking harder, crunchy items (like cabbage, kale, cucumber, carrots, raw beets, jicama, sauerkraut, radishes, celery, broccoli, etc.) Pre-dress them with homemade salad dressing to eat for the next 3ish days. It marinates without getting soggy and gets more and more delicious as the days go on!
GRAB AND GO finger foods!
(Open Pinterest and type in WHOLE FOOD SNACKS! You will receive TONS of options and inspiration.)
Savory option: Bake your choice of protein seasoned with your favorite herbs - can also add chopped cooked veggies, legumes, or grains to make it more complete.
Sweet option: Raw balls with nuts, seeds, coconut, nut butters, banana, etc.
RAW Veggies & Fruit
Some tasty combinations are: Jicama with lemon & lime, cucumber with olive oil and salt, and berries, apples, etc.
Q: What topics or causes are you most passionate about sharing right now - something that could really help the world if everyone did it/ got on board?
1. Prioritizing and embracing the conversation and education of emotional intelligence inside the home, in schools, in sports, in arts, and in the work place. The more I teach and create space for people to talk about their fears, insecurities, their past and their truth, the more I realize that the shame of speaking up is creating one of the biggest issues. People think they are alone, and they think they will be isolated even more for speaking their truth.
2. Being mindful of personal waste. Starting with reducing each person’s use of any single-use items. Think about what you purchase the most often that you use once and then throw away, or even recycle, and start incorporating ways to prevent that as much as possible. Recycling things is a great start, but it can’t be the end. I believe reducing your use will create the most impactful change.
3. Constantly working toward improving our understanding of the other person’s point of view. Especially those with whom you do not agree. It would be so wonderful if we could lessen our labeling of one another, lessen our assumptions of one another, lessen our shaming and blaming of one another, and instead INQUIRE more, and listen without waiting to be heard!
Q: Do you have a favorite performance/tour, favorite choreography or favorite combo to teach?
A: For years I was a part of a burlesque show called Harlow Gold created by Tracy Phillips and Dominic Carbone. I was in three of their different themed shows that were scattered around Los Angeles. This show was different from anything I had ever been a part of or seen. It awakened a side of me I had never known. This show is what gave me that feeling of complete empowerment with purpose and a sense of play like I had never felt before. Tracy taught me how to be the SUBJECT, not the OBJECT.
My first world tour was with Kylie Minogue, choreographed by the sensational Tony Testa. The entire process beginning to end was a DREAM. The group of artists that were all working together were beyond inspiring, the creatives and production for the show were beyond beautiful, the places we visited and the things I got to experience off-stage were beyond remarkable. The full length DVD that we shot in London is available to watch on Youtube.
[Editor’s note: you can see Liana’s full video show reel on her website, including some pretty fun music videos!]
Q: What’s the biggest sustainable shift you’ve personally made that you feel is having a real impact?
A: My biggest personal sustainable impact has been my use of my reusable liquid containers for water, smoothies, juices, and tea, because I use them EVERY DAY! I used to CONSTANTLY trash or even recycle liquid containers (mainly plastic) DAILY. Even the impact of my reusable stainless steel water bottle alone is MAJOR!
But since plastic and personal containers are something that everyone hears about all the time, I want to bring up the second biggest sustainable shift in my life and that has been CLOTHING! I used to love shopping and I put a high value on having tons of clothing. I had no awareness of even thinking about how they were being made, what they were made of, and what impact that all had. I purchased tons of FAST FASHION clothing items until I learned that the fashion industry is one of the largest polluters on earth. I hardly ever purchase clothing now, and when I do it is almost always consignment, repurposed, or sustainably made.
Q: Without giving too much away, what fun and exciting projects or goals do you have in store for the rest of the year?
A: I am SUPER excited about what my husband and I have been working on, and can’t wait to launch it. This project will give people the opportunity to connect, dance, and TRAIN with me FROM ANYWHERE!! EEEEEEE STAY TUNED!!
Q: What is the one question you wish people would ask you more often?
A: OOOOOOOO, this is stumping me. Honestly, nothing is sticking out to me, I get asked a lot of different things. But in general, I do wish that people just asked more questions of themselves and to others. ESPECIALLY to those you are close with.
For example: I never want to assume I know everything about my husband. We constantly ask each other questions to better understand each other and ourselves as time passes. CHANGE is the most constant thing we can rely on. My goal is to remain curious and to continue learning how I, and others, am affected by changes. That way, I can make better choices in the PRESENT, instead of making choices based on something from the past.
Q: What does being a Social Icon mean to you?
A: I have a great desire to inspire and help people inquire more about themselves and the world around them. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to connect with lots of people, and to share my experience, thoughts, and beliefs. I am extremely grateful to be a part of a platform in conjunction with so many other empowering women that motivate me to continue working toward being the best I can be. Thank you, truly, for welcoming my energy and my point of view into this space. I am very appreciative.