North Carolina A&T’s new plus-size dance team Liquid Gold advocates for inclusivity — Andscape
In an effort to promote more inclusivity in the majorette dance scene, North Carolina A&T State University junior Jada Mayes wanted to form a plus-size dance team on campus that would exhibit the dancers’ talent and agility.
In April, she did so, creating Liquid Gold.
“I knew A&T is where I wanted to go and I wanted to dance when I got there,” Mayes told Andscape. “It didn’t matter what team I was on. I was going to make that happen.”
The current members of Liquid Gold came together after Mayes made a post on her Instagram Story to see who would be interested in joining the team. Liquid Gold’s official Instagram account, which also was launched in April, has more than 400 followers. Its first post informs observers, “The sole purpose of Liquid Gold is to create a safe space for plus-size dancers to build confidence in themselves and their craft without judgment or discrimination.”
North Carolina A&T incorporated majorette dancing into its band program in the 1950s, and the dance squad was christened Golden Delight in 1992 by current band director Kenneth Ruff, who was auxiliary coordinator at the time.
However, due to the team’s strict body requirements, plus-size dancers do not have the best odds of making the team; a post on Golden Delight’s Instagram page informs those interested in joining: “We have strict physical/body requirements due to uniforms worn and intense performance style. This is a determining factor in the selection process.”
Nonetheless, Mayes said the Golden Delight dancers have supported the creation of a plus-size dance team.
“On our TikTok and Instagram page, I’ll see Golden Delight dancers in the comments saying, ‘I love this!’ ” Mayes said. “They’ve been supporting the idea 100%.”
Mayes said she initially began planning for the team in September 2022. Due to the extensive process of becoming an official North Carolina A&T organization, Liquid Gold is not one currently and therefore cannot receive school funding.
Liquid Gold members have taken matters into their own hands, creating a GoFundMe account in June with a goal of $5,000 to help fund their first official season this fall. The team has affirmed its plans for the fall semester will remain intact regardless of how much money it raises.
Creating the team was challenging, especially considering the stereotype that it is harder for plus-size people to dance because of their size.
“If you’re not skinny, then people think it’s hard for you to move,” said Liquid Gold coach and creative director JazMia Victorian. “I wanted to coach a team that proves that plus-sized dancers can do just as much as any other dancer.”
Alabama State University made history in 2004 with the creation of the Honey Beez, the first dance team at a historically Black college or university to feature plus-sized women. The dancers were featured in a 10-episode docuseries on Snapchat in 2020 called The Honeybeez of ASU, produced by TV personality La La Anthony in collaboration with ITV America’s Leftfield Pictures.
Members of the Honey Beez are proud to see more HBCUs advocating for inclusivity within dance.
“It feels awesome to see other HBCUs develop plus-size dance teams,” said Ruth “Anna Marshae” Williams, coach and creative director of the Honey Beez. “I’m going to enjoy seeing this team [Liquid Gold] unfold.”
Several members of Liquid Gold named Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Lizzo as an inspirational figure in the plus-size community, which is fitting considering Lizzo’s respect for HBCU bands. In 2019, she shot her music video for “Good As Hell” at Southern University, featuring its critically acclaimed Human Jukebox marching band.
Mayes was still unsure how North Carolina A&T students and faculty would react to Liquid Gold.
“Being plus-size is still not the most loved or conventional thing in the world,” Mayes said. “So, I was nervous about the perception of the team.”
Nonetheless, students responded positively.
“This team is going to be so fun to watch,” said senior Moriah Terry. “Dance does not come in one shape and size, and I can’t wait for Liquid Gold to put that on full display.”
Currently, the team holds virtual practices every Sunday. Practices will expand to Monday through Friday during the fall semester, with tryouts in August. Although experience is preferred, it is not required.
Bringing energy throughout performances is something that Liquid Gold harps on, wanting to wow their audiences.
“We’ll definitely be working on jumps, kicks, splits, flips and kick-ups,” Mayes said. “Also, some collaborative tricks that the crowd won’t see coming.”
Plans for Liquid Gold include dancing in the stands at football games, including the annual Aggie-Eagle Classic featuring in-state rival North Carolina Central University. The team also plans to perform in local parades and to collaborate with Bowie State University’s new plus-size dance team, Golden Curves, through virtual dance workshops and joint dance videos.
Though team members acknowledge that creating more plus-size dance teams at HBCUs is a step in the right direction, they hope future plus-size dancers will not have to create separate teams for more inclusivity.
“In future years, HBCU dance teams shouldn’t be so selective about who should be on the team,” said Leah Bell, a rising sophomore and co-president of Liquid Gold. “Someone being plus-size doesn’t mean they can’t do the same things as someone smaller. I don’t think size matters.”
Liquid Gold members emphasized the importance of plus-size representation, not just in the dance community but in the world.
“When you’re younger, you want to be able to look up to somebody who looks like you,” Mayes said. “Seeing someone who looks like yourself be passionate in whatever they’re doing has a huge impact. It proves you can do anything, regardless of the size or shape.”
More than anything, Liquid Gold wants people to know it is not just a team – it’s a family.
“We are a group of people that love and support each other through dance,” said sophomore member Timii Oni. “We emphasize the importance of getting to know our teammates, which not only empowers us when it is time to hit the floor, but we can call each other whenever we need something. That’s what’s important.”