Your wish is my command, Oh Mighty Dot! 🙂
Whitney says that from her babyhood, where she jiggled in the car seat to the rhythms of Motown on the radio, she displayed an "intrinsic" love of dance. "I instinctively understood the nuances of how to move my body to a particular kind of music because I could feel it. [italics in the original]." Once she heard a song's melody, an "electric current" would make her bones vibrate and "like a conduit, I had no other choice but to channel it through movement."
When she was six years old, (1990) her parents signed her up for "ballet, tap, jazz and gymnastics at the Cindy Gill School of Dance."
She claims that due to her "natural ability and unnatural enthusiasm" she "quickly became Miss Cindy's star student." She repeatedly had the opportunity "to dance in every dancer's most coveted spot: front and center." Unfortunately, from that spot she could also see that she was a lot taller and heavier than the other girls, and so began her obsession with her weight. And in the summer of her fifth grade year, she decided not to dance anymore.
Three or four years later, as a freshman in high school, she had lost some weight and auditioned for a high school production of Jesus Christ Superstar. She was cast as a dancer and the choreographer mentored her and eventually accepted her into the Honors Advanced Dance Class that she taught at the Weaver Center (a specialized curriculum in performing arts for high school students). Whitney admits she was at first surprised to be accepted because, although she "had the passion, the drive, the natural talent and the basic skills [she] had acquired in childhood," she was "miles behind " in "the more technical elements of leaps and turns." After that, she auditioned for a community theatre production of Carousel, was cast as an ensemble dancer and also became a pet of the choreographer because she "worked harder than anyone else."
While it seems Whitney spent a lot of time in the studio,, she was being taught choreography, not dance fundamentals. At some point (in her junior year?) she was referred to a new teacher at the Weaver Center named Leslie, who asked her if she was being taught by any local professional. When she learned Whitney was not taking regular classes, she "invited [her] to take a class with her senior competition company." This turned out to be a technical ballet class and Whitney who had "never been adept at ballet," struggled hard to keep up. Also, the other members of the class were taller and thinner than she was and, once again, her "thick thighs and lack of technique threatened to shake [her] identity as a dancer." (Whitney doesn't say so, but competitive dancers of high school age would probably have been doing at least half of this class en pointe and there is no indication she'd ever graduated to pointe work at Miss Cindy's.) She does say she was dancing en pointe after a few months in Leslie's class,"albeit wobbly and poorly.") At some point during this time was the rescue of Todd's high school production of Grease, where she choreographed and played Cha Cha. She was also invited to teach a hip hop class for children and adults (why am I thinking "mommy and me?) and discovered she loved to teach.
That's what she has to say about her dance background. At this point, she was taking Adderall and binging and purging to keep her weight down, and once she arrived at college, her weight went out of control and she stopped dancing for ten years. She then took one ballet class where she claims the teacher said she would have been an amazing dancer if she weren't so fat, so she dropped the class. She took one Zumba class that she really liked because there wasn't any structure - the teacher danced and the class followed. When it was over, the teacher told her she was a great dancer and should be a Zumba teacher, so she took a one day certification class, and got a license to teach Zumba.