ST. LOUIS — Professional St. Louis dancer Kameron Saunders finds peace inside the dance studio at COCA.
“It’s sacred. I’m at my most authentic self,” he told 5 On Your Side.
Dancing has helped him cope with some of the difficulties of life.
“It has gotten me out of some dark, heavy spaces,” he said.
But the art also contributed to the dark space. Saunders is a larger person and the audience often pointed out his size difference.
“People would always say, ‘Oh my God,’ and, ‘Did you see him, the bigger guy? He could really dance for a big guy,’” he recalled.
Those reactions took a toll on his self-image.
“My relationship with my body wasn’t the best. I wanted to shrink,” he said.
Saunders said he started a tough workout routine and dieted to get in shape. But he eventually accepted himself as he was.
“Once I decided to own it, I became unstoppable,” he said.
He is finding others are becoming more acceptable of him, which led him to new dancing opportunities.
“Things have just been happening left and right,” he said.
In 2021, he was asked to audition for the movie “Spirited” starring Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell and Octavia Spencer.
“I think I stared at my phone like,” he said with his mouth wide open.
Saunders got the part as one of the primary dancers. He also got to say a few lines in the movie.
“Don’t quite have the words for how massive of a feeling that was,” he said.
There were more big moments in 2022. He got to dance on stage with singer Lizzo at the BET awards.
“It was magical,” he described.
He followed up his performance with Lizzo by dancing for rapper Saucy Santana at the MTV awards.
Saunders believes the opportunities are coming his way because, despite the emotional hurdles, he never gave up on his dream.
“I never not believed that I was going to be a successful dancer and entertainer,” he said.
He has discovered his strength.
“My power is in my size,” he explained.
He has become a role model for other plus-sized dancers.
“I’m only but one person. But it only takes one person,” he said.
And to the person looking to follow in his dance steps, Saunders offered this advice.
“Above all, you have to believe in yourself,” he said.
You can watch Saunders dance in the movie “Spirited” right now. It is in movie theaters and streaming on Apple TV+.