Do you struggle with body image stereotypes? Meet a man who shreds all misconceptions by sharing dance videos that are setting the internet on fire.

Erik Cavanaugh, a 27-year-old professional dancer, living in Nashville, Tennessee, truly dances to the beat of his own drum. His passion for dancing began at the age of 16 during his years at a creative & performing arts high school.

He first majored in theatre, but by the end of the sophomore year, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in dance. So, by the team junior year rolled around, he switched his major to the dance department and hasn’t looked back.

His dancing career has taken him worldwide and allowed him to perform at music festivals and in commercials. He’s also appeared in magazines and music videos and posts frequently on Instagram to showcase his diverse dance skills. He even competed in season 11 of America’s Got Talent with a ballet performance!

While at one point, no one believed he could achieve his dreams, including himself, his passion and dedication for the art have paid off.


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Erik’s Message About Body Image Stereotypes

His goal is to prove that anyone of any body type can pursue dance, as long as they have a true love for performing arts. Erik says he creates his videos based on what mood and vibe he’s feeling that day.

Whether it’s contemporary, jazz, or more freestyle dance, Erik lets his soul speak to him in the dance studio.

He says that for his TikTok and Instagram videos, he asks himself, “How wacky or ridiculous can I be?” His goal is to bring a smile to people’s faces and encourage them to be their authentic selves too. He says that the challenge and fluidity of dance excite him, making him want to learn and grow even more.

“You achieve something new in dance, you have the next goal to go to, so you are always training, you are always growing, you are always attempting to achieve and become more,” he said in a video.

He trains as a dancer two to three hours a day, making a living by teaching dance classes and doing commercials and music videos. He also licenses his videos on social media platforms, selling them to websites and media outlets.

A couple of years ago, he recorded himself dancing at a studio in Pennsylvania, and just four months later, it had been viewed over 70 million times.


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Erik Took the Internet by Storm

The Facebook page Scary Mommy made it into a meme, titling it “When You Have the House to Yourself.” It was a huge hit with all the moms in the group and everyone who saw it elsewhere.

Another video he made back in 2016 got shared on the Instagram page worldwidedance and then got picked up by other outlets. Between all the different websites and platforms that shared it, including Power of Positivity, his video got over 90 million views. This video launched his dancing career, and even granted him a spot in an edition of Oprah Magazine! The original video had the hashtag #dancerscomeinallsizes, which Erik now uses on his posts.

Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas came across the video and asked Erik to FaceTime with her. During the call, she said that the video had moved her to tears. Through Fergie, Erik got noticed by choreographer Fatima Robinson and Emmy-winning director and producer Michael Jurkovac. This led to an invitation for Erik to star in a Dodge Ram commercial, which was scheduled to air during the 2018 Super Bowl.

He also launched his clothing brand using that same hashtag, selling items such as shirts, sweatpants, and even phone cases. Erik proves that by following your heart and not caring what others think, your wildest dreams can come true.


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Overcome Body Image Stereotypes and Follow Your Dreams

For those who want to pursue their passion for dancing, Erik suggests starting at a local dance studio if you’re feeling a bit cautious or afraid. That way, you can learn the basics in an environment where everyone is pretty much on the same page. He says at the dance studio he teaches at called Millennium Dance Complex, they have classes ranging from beginner to advanced.

“We welcome everybody. Our motto is unity and diversity, so find a local studio in your city that has those drop-in classes for adults. Just walk in, sign up and do it; don’t overthink it, don’t fight yourself about it – just go straight into it,” Erik said when advising about how to get started.

You may feel embarrassed or shy at first, but remember to have fun and give yourself a chance to learn the moves. You never know. Maybe you may end up loving it and sign up for all the classes they offer!

Erik also says not to let your body image or size stop you from achieving your dreams or goals. “We all have different bodies, we all look different, and that’s what makes us beautiful as human beings.”


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Final Thoughts: Break Down Body Image Barriers and Live Life to the Fullest

Erik believes that everyone deserves to do what makes them happy, no matter what that looks like to others. He says, “Love yourself and have fun. Don’t worry anymore.” Not only does Erik have amazing dance skills, but he gives great life advice as well! Everyone can offer the world unique skills and talents, and if your heart comes alive with dance, then go for it. Don’t let anyone else’s opinions stop you, or the voice in your own head, either.

Known for dancing in heels and breaking the mold when it comes to male dancers, Erik brings inspiration and happiness to millions of people. He shows us all what can happen when you decide to forge ahead and have an unshakable belief in yourself. What started as just a dream for him became a full-time career, and he shows his students how loving yourself can lead to beautiful new beginnings.