They might look too big for a tutu, but these women are not part of a weight-loss exercise programme – they are professional dancers. The dance company based in Cuba’s capital of Havana is breaking down traditional stereotypes by giving talented oversized performers the opportunity to showcase their abilities.

Danza Voluminosa, which translates as Voluminous Dance, is currently putting on shows to sell-out crowds in the heart of the famous Caribbean island.

In a rhythm: Maylin Daza, 32, during a rehearsal in Havana, Cuba Established in 1996, the group’s latest offering called ‘Crisalidas’ or ‘Chrysalis’ continues with its tradition of providing a unique medium of expression for those who, on account of their ‘generous’ physique, have been excluded from regular dance academies. It was the brainchild of director current Juan Miguel Más, who aimed to adapt modern dance techniques to the physical possibilities of overweight people.

There is also a therapeutic aspect to the group, with members working through feelings and emotions associated with being overweight. Over the last 16 years the company has developed relationships with artists from other disciplines such as poets and playwrights, painters and musicians.

In most respects Danza Voluminosa is like any other professional dance troupe, apart from the fact that its participants weigh more. Mailín Daza, the company’s prima ballerina, reportedly tips the scales at more than 20stone.

Mr Mas said: ‘We provide a context for obese people to develop artistically, to create a language and a structure that makes them able to interact with society.


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