I am on a beautiful journey of self discovery through dance that began in June 2021, and it hasn’t stopped. Less than two months into dancing, I performed in a showcase. I am now preparing to compete at The World Salsa Summit in January 2022 in Miami. 

I struggled in the beginning because of my past with significant trauma and abuse. I had a hard time connecting to my own body, let alone my dance partner. Dancing seemed like an impossible task for me because of the pain of fibromyalgia and the clash of being a plus sized woman in dance. I chose to combat these negative ideas and commit to trying to overcome what seemed insurmountable. I was able to confidently make this decision because of my friend, Judith Armas, and my work in therapy. Both of these things gave me the support I needed to move forward boldly. 

Dancing pushes me to confront my trauma and abuse in a healthy way. I am in a safe environment where I can feel empowered and sexy. It is a way for me to physically release and heal my wounds in the process. I’ve noticed so many miraculous changes in myself. For example, my fibromyalgia symptoms are not only under control, but significantly less severe. Also, I’ve lost weight and my body now craves healthier foods. Mentally, I find that I am more grounded within myself. I am able to identify and express my emotions more precisely. I also have the courage to talk about myself and state my needs. I trust myself more, and I allow myself to trust others. I find power in vulnerability, no longer fear. I feel like a happy and whole person, bursting with love to share. In one statement, I have the freedom to be myself. 

A significant part of my dance life is the safe and nurturing environment created by Raul Santiago at SoHo Dance LA. With the warm and supportive community of staff and students, I am always encouraged to keep going. I am especially thankful for the work that I have been doing with my teacher, Ryan Joseph Smith. He is an amazing soul that understands how to guide me on my dance journey. He takes the time to understand me at my core, he pushes me to be not just a better dancer, but a better person. I am so grateful to be thriving with these people in a beautiful space. 

I have high hopes for my future because of dance. I’ve decided to say yes to things that make me happy and are healthy. Saying yes to dance allows me to say yes to myself. The combination of my attitude, determination, and the dance studio environment is powerful. I finally love myself and know what it means to be happy because of this. I won’t go backwards, and nothing can stop me now.


Nicole Benson is a new dancer who believes in saying yes to anything that makes her happy and is healthy. She began her journey in dance by following her immersive positive attitude, and now has goals of becoming a successful competitive dancer. Nicole works in special needs education. She also teaches voice, piano, and ukulele. Her passion for music is shown through singing and dance. Nicole Benson lives in Los Angeles, CA. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @MissMusicNicole.