Jessica Erin Judd joined Big Moves in 2001 as a founding Big Moves board member and emFATic DANCE member. Co-artistic Director of emFATic DANCE since 2008, Jessica has also served as Director of Big Moves Bay Area (2004-2009) and manager and member of Mass Movement, Big Moves’ former modern dance company (2002-2006). Trained in jazz, lyrical, hip hop, and rhythm tap dance Jessica loves leaps, turns that aren’t piourettes, and any dance that allows her to travel extensively about the stage. She feels extraordinarily fortunate to be working with so many talented, fun, and fabulous fat dancers who trust that it will all make sense in the end. A research analyst in a a former life, Jessica is now a free-range fat activist and stay-at-home mother of two fabulous and funny kiddos. Her essay “Blue Pants”, was recently published in Virgie Tovar’s anthology, “Hot&Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love, and Fashion.” An avid nature/wildlife photographer and vintage cookbook collector, Jessica enjoys hiking, yoga, and finding new and exciting ways of fighting fat hatred, promoting body liberation, and subverting heteronormativity . Jessica offers profuse thanks to her husband and original Big Moves roadie, Peter, for his phenomenal support of her and all things Big Moves. Photo by Lisa J. Ellis.
Matilda St. John spent her elementary school years training in jazz and dreaming of becoming a Solid Gold Dancer. Although those early dreams never materialized, she was delighted to find and join Big Moves in 2002. She’s the current Director of Big Moves and the Co-Artistic Director of emFATic DANCE, and is honored to serve as the costume consultant for so many beautifully fearless dancers. A psychotherapist by day, she enjoys the chance to show off her less inhibited side through dance; she loves across-the-floor work and whip-fast pas de bourrees. As the resident musical theater enthusiast, she also relishes making silly dances look deadly serious. Matilda lives in Oakland with her long time partner, in a house full of accordians and beasts. Photo by Gabriela Hasbun.
Minda Quickel was raised by dancing bears who taught her to do the Dougie and to growl when she’s hungry. Adopted by Big Moves San Francisco, she moved out ofthe forest and into the city in 2008. In addition to dancing, Minda likes to ride her bike, swim, eat free samples and play games. She wants to thank her fellow emFATs, roommates and good friends for inspiring and supporting her. Play on playas! Photo by Lisa J. Ellis.
Kristen Young has been dancing since the ripe ol’ age of 4 1/2 years old. Even with an 18 year break from dance, she never stopped dancing completely. Everywhere she went, there was a stage…grocery store, mall, sidewalk or cafe. While dance is a big part of her life, she can also be found embarrassing her 2 daughters, husband and coworkers. YES! Somebody gave this gal a job…thank you Title Nine for taking a chance on a crass fatty. Photo by Jessica Erin Judd.
Amanda Cooper read about Big Moves in a magazine and dared to dream that one day she would dance with them. A few years and a few thousand miles later, she is realizing that dream and has been dancing with the EmFATs since 2010! As a lifelong dancing enthusiast, activist and fatty, she is inspired by this opportunity to bring so many of her passions together. She enjoys jumps, kicks, isolations and choreography that repeats itself. She has earned the nickname “other way Amanda” and appreciates the troupe’s acceptance of her directional challenges and inability to keep her mouth shut. Amanda enjoys a professional life consulting non-profits on communications and campaign strategy. California born and raised but fully realized in Brooklyn, she lives in Alameda with her husband Brett, daughter Maxine and still gets confused when people ask her where she is from. Photo by Natalie Ingraham.
Natalie Ingraham is working on her spotting skills and jazz splits, while also finishing her sociology PhD and working in LGBTQ health. This is her fourth year with emFATic dance and she fully credits dancing and her fellow dancers for keeping her (mostly) sane during grad school. She lives with her wondermous partner Rory surrounded by dogs, chickens and sunshine. Photo by Lisa J. Ellis
Betty Oram is a professional naked lady. She hails from the hippie wonderland of Berkeley, California, and spent her formative years in the high desert of SoCal, running amok in the woods learning critical theory and musical snobbery. After a brief, unsuccessful romance with college, she learned the art of profitable nudity at San Francisco’s Lusty Lady Theater. Twirling around in her unmentionables reminded her of her first love, ballet, and after a long delay (and some prodding from Natalie), she attended emFATic’s Day of Dance and Jazz Hams in 2012. She has been dancing with the group ever since. She likes high kicks and leaps, and dislikes direct sunlight. Photo by Jessica Erin Judd.
Yalith Fonfa has been dancing since a children’s tap/ballet class in 1989 where she learned to shuffle-shuffle-step to Hey Mickey. She joined emFATic DANCE in November 2012. She really loves pique turns, leaps, and symmetrical choreography. She can usually be seen with a little white poodle named Bea, but as Bea is not a dancing poodle, she will not be performing with emFATic DANCE.
Shaéla Stephens grew up in Berkeley and has been dancing since she was 4 years old. From ballet to west African to afro-hatian dance to praise dance and to the modern/jazz dance style of emFATic she just loves to dance. While not dancing Shaéla teaches preschool and first grade and has studied early childhood education as well as biology.
Megan Briceno has been dancing, singing, and loving life since she was born. She started choreographing and teaching dances to the other neighborhood kids at 9 years old. Megan was led astray by self doubt but returned full force to her passion in 2010. Currently, she is attending Cal State University East Bay with a dual major in Socio-Cultural-Anthropology and Dance where she dances with both the Dance Ensemble and Interdisciplinary Inclusive Ensemble. Megan is overjoyed to be a new dancer with Big Moves and is looking forward to performing with them for the first time. She has experience in Hip-hop, Flamenco, Andalusian, Afro-Carribean, Modern, Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Musical Theatre, and Contemporary styles. She is an aspiring instructor, choreographer, writer, and anthropologist in the field of dance with a focus on promoting diversity.
KC Slack can think of no better way to practice embodied theologies than dancing. Every type of dancing. Currently a seminarian at Starr King School for the Ministry and on the path to ordination in the Unitarian Universalist tradition, dance has been a big part of her life since she was a small child taking as many as 9 dance classes per year. Even during her 9 year hiatus from any sort of choreographed dancing, KC could (and still can) often be found working it out in her kitchen – much to the confusion of her cats and possibly also her neighbors. A recent transplant from Cleveland, she discovered theeEmFATs while reading “Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion” and immediately thought “Oh my God! I live in the Bay now! I could do that thing!” and is so happy every time she gets to dance and hang out with all of these glorious, beautiful people.
Kendal Blum is motivated in all of her dance endeavors by her dreams of one day back-up dancing for Beyoncé. Growing up in a community filled with punks she never had a lot of outlets for dancing that weren’t sweaty pits of teenagers running in circles. All of that changed when she took her first tap class in community college. As a new member of emFATic DANCE Kendal’s working hard at her chaine and pique turns. She works at a bookstore and delights in doing across-the-floors down the length of the store during particularly slow days.
Amanda Kolstad got in her first fist fight over a tutu at the age of 3; her passion for dance (and dancewear) has only grown since. After dancing with a company through high school, Amanda’s passion was temporarily stifled by body shame, and she took a 10 year hiatus from performance. She recently discovered emFATic Dance after diving into body positivity. While reading Virgie Tovar’sHot and Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion, she encountered Jessica Judd’s essay “Blue Pants.” Amanda emailed emFATic immediately, and she was welcomed by a phenomenal group of performers. Amanda lives with her wife-to-be and their superdog, River-Jayne in San Jose. She is a program coordinator at a local community college by day, and she dances to the beat of her own tambourine in every aspect of her life. She gets excited with each new 8-count that the company creates, and what she lacks in technique, she compensates for with enthusiasm. Photo by Andriya Cadavillo
Dane Isaac Shepard started dancing with emFATic DANCE in late 2015. Although he has no formal dance experience, he’s been performing on the karaoke stage for years. His time in the troupe hasn’t come easy for him, and often finds choreography challenging and frustrating. However, though his struggles, the group has offered 110% love and support that keeps him determined to learn! Dane feels strongly about the importance of movement in *everyone’s* life, and dancing with fellow emFATs has given him an outlet to express that creativity. He has recently completed his personal trainer certification, and is excited about exploring his passion for movement with others. Dane begins and ends his day snugged against a poodly mixed pupperthing named, Colton.