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Tazz Bentley empowers young women through dance

Tazz Bentley empowers young women through dance
Tazz Bentley (Photo Credit: Nagashia Jackson)

Starting at the mere age of four, Tazz Bentley began her love for dance and has been cultivating her passion ever since. Dancing is her life — from teaching others to do it, to practicing whenever she has free time. At the beginning of this year, she decided to turn her passion into a business. She founded Entice by Tazz to inspire women to embrace their inner goddess and femininity through dance. Bentley wants to prevent young girls from dealing with the insecurities she dealt with as a young girl. 

How did you come into your career?

Although I’ve been dancing all my life, something happened within myself where I stopped believing in myself and my abilities. Since then, there had been many things I’d done to fill time. I’d convinced myself that not only was it impossible for me to dance for a living but that I wasn’t good enough to do it. I spent four years as a general education teacher and worked in probation part-time while teaching Zumba on the side, but I knew I wasn’t walking in my purpose. I started setting my goals for 2018 in December of 2017 and it was then that I made a conscious decision that on the first day of the New Year I would start my business. I would no longer watch other people live their dreams while I only dreamt of living mine. On January 1st of this year, I took my passion and developed it into a brand. I’ve been a dancer my entire life and I wasn’t able to start my career until I stopped allowing fear to get in the way of my dreams. 

Are there any misconceptions about what you do? 

Absolutely! The amount of gossip I’ve heard surrounding myself and what I do is comical. Some feel that my attire as well as my dancing is too sexual and reflects negatively on myself and what I represent, but what some fail to realize is that I represent multiple things. I’m Tazz first: a woman comfortable in my own skin and not afraid to express myself or test the limits. I’m a dancer second: a free spirit who allows my body to move in the way it pleases. And everything else comes after. I believe the biggest misconception is simply one’s expectation to understand and feel comfortable with what I do, but having spent most of my life trying to please others, I know firsthand that it’s an unhappy way of living. I’m walking in my purpose and I refuse to put myself into a box because my craft makes some feel uncomfortable. Regardless of misconceptions and opinions, I don’t make it my business to get people to understand my gift and passion, I have no desire to. That’s why it’s mine, and not theirs.

How do you stay at the leading edge of your craft? 

“Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.” The best way for me to stay at the leading edge of my craft is to know and understand that I can always do better and be better. One thing I’ve started doing recently is recording my craft. One of my many goals is for people to know what I do before I open my mouth to tell them what I do, so I invest in myself and my brand. I’m a full-time dance teacher, I teach Zumba twice a week, and I dance every single day outside of that; I never stop. I spend a lot of time practicing and rehearsing routines and posting them on social media for others to see. I’ve spent two weeks working on a routine before posting it online, and once it’s posted I start picking apart everything I could’ve done to add a little more “umph.” I’m an imperfect person and an imperfect artist and I’m able to acknowledge my strengths and areas of growth so I’m always moving, dancing, and working to be the best dancer. 

Who are two of your top role models in the industry?

Currently, my top two role models in the industry are Jade Chynoweth and Aliya Janell. It’s difficult to narrow down the dancers who inspire me the most because there are so many. Jade is an amazingly beautiful dancer whose movements are effortless and evokes feeling just by the way she moves her body.  I’m always inspired by dancers who can not only choreograph but can freestyle to any song at any moment and kill it! Aliya Janell inspires me because I’ve watched her grow as an artist. Aliya went from taking dance classes to subbing in those same classes, to owning her own business and is now dancing and choreographing for A-list celebrities. She’s an amazing dancer who puts so much feeling into her dancing that she stands out in the crowd. Not only do you feel it in her dancing but her facial expressions have me dancing in my seat. It’s one thing to dance, it’s a whole other thing to perform, and both of these women are performers. 

How do you prepare for an audition or show? 

Preparation for an audition or show can be mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting. You never really know what judges are looking for, so I prepare myself for the best and the worst outcomes and remind myself that it doesn’t invalidate my talents. A typical audition, show or recording day consists of me getting up slowly out of bed, drinking a cup of tea, [and] slowly breathing in. This helps to decrease the stress and makes it almost impossible to overwhelm myself.

What has been the highlight of your career?

The highlights of my career so far have been meeting other amazing dancers and being able to inspire those who want to dance more often. I spent many years dancing alone, but once I started showcasing what I do, doors opened, opportunities started coming one-by-one, and in the process, I’ve met some very talented dancers. Dancing alongside others allows me to become better at my craft. Andre inspired me to stop counting and just allow my body to move with and without music. Lacasha teaches me how to hit my moves harder, and Tailor has me doing tricks I didn’t even know my body could do. 

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