Episode 12: The Dancer bringing cultures and communities together one step at a time
Leah Ma'at Mcfly is all about reeducating others through movement and cosmic healing. Having grown up learning dance hall and reggae, Leah went on to compete in hiphop and popping battles before moving into waacking. Thanks to touring from a young age, Leah's experiences have led her to expand her skillset and expertise which, today, she shares with her ever growing community online and offline.
Prioritising the decolonisation of dance, Leah is continually leading other into a more progressive future. In this podacast episode, we hear Leah discuss how moving to Mexico helped her reconnect with her roots, and the fundamental role dance has played in bringing both her masculine and feminine energy to life. Interviewed by our Sassy host for this episode, artist Cyd Eva, get inspired by Leah's energy and the feeling of freedom she's embracing today.
Having started dancing at the age of 3, influenced by her father who was also a dancer, Leah spent her youth moving betweeen genres and developing her talents. Having been spotted by a hiphop teacher, Leah was asked to start teaching classes when she was only 14 years old. That led her to dance and train more until she decided to join forces with her brother and start performing as a duo. Having won a compeition that took them to Paris, this was the start of Leah's never ending journey of travelling outside of her home country. From New York to Europe, Egypt to Mexico, Leah has embedded herself in a life of moving around the world performing, judging, and running workshops.
Why do I have to be a star to dress like one? I want to take that inspiration and wear it in my everyday life
With such a solid history of performing, as well as running parties in Vancouver, it's no surprise that fashion and styling became a passion for Leah. When discussing her inspirations she explains how the TV show Soul Train has had a huge part to play in her joy of dressing with a 70s and 80s vibe. "To this day I google Soul Train when I want to dress up and go out." Never one to repress her desires of self expression, Leah encourages everyone to step up their sass and style themselves with joy and creativity."If like TLC, Grace Jones and Prince, why do I have to be a star to dress like one? I want to take that inspiration and wear it in my everyday life".
Leah has continually found ways to combine her passions with her skill set, bringing communities together and creating colourful environments for people to dance and celebrate creativity."That's always been my thing, to bring community and culture together". Having moved to Talum in Mexico two years aho, Leah is taking this time in her life to reconnect with her father's roots as an Indigenous Maya person. She explains how this has been an important part of an ancestral healing journey that she feels grateful to have to space and time to do. Having settled in Belize, and with a desire to buy property in the area, Leah is intent on building a creative space for people to come together, record music, and do classes. She explains how, in this way, she aims "to help people be in their sovereignty and be in their power and to stop being stuck in the norm."
More of us are embracing our culture, our natural hair, the way we dress, wearing African print
When unpicking the norm that she refers to, it's clear how influential Leah's upbringing was, explaining how being surrrounded by a melting pot of different cultures in Montreal helped her understand the strength of communities when everyone is from a diversity of backgrounds. From the variety of languages and slang that they'd share, to the food, traditions, and holidays, Leah points out how different it was for her generation compared to her parents. "Yes we're still Canadian but we're still attached to our roots. Whereas growing up our parents told [us] we don't want you to have an accent, we want you to speak English. But now more of us are embracing our culture, our natural hair, the way we dress wearing African print". This sense of mindful authenticity and freedom is something that Leah embraces in every way possible, encouraging a rewiting of history and to step into creative liberation.
It's with a sense of courage that Leah has continually moved out of comfort and into possibilties for progressive change. "I came to Vancouver to discover me. I did rollerskating and hoolahooping, I started acting, I ran my parties. Everthing I wanted to do, I did". This drive to leap into her dreams is something that also extends into Leah's sexuality and exploring her Sassy side. "By sexuality was very numb for a while because I was so in my masculine. I was such a tomboy, I grew up with two brothers, my dad and my mother was a bodybuilder she was masculine too." However, it was thanks to waacking and spending a year dancing in heels that helped Leah get into her feminine. In doing so, Leah expresses how she has been tapping into a new side of flirtatious interaction and letting her Goddess energy shine through.
I'm always peeling my feminine onion and exploring different layers of myself
It is clear just how talented and driven Leah is when exploring her back cataolgue of work and the energy she puts in to connecting people to their own inner dancing flame. Through movement and self expression, Leah shows us an example of how abundant creatvitiy can be. Not only is she offering guidance through dance, she is also leading a spiritual journey fueled by ancestral knowldege and an authentic mix of cultural insight. We can't wait to see Leah's journey continue to evolve as her mission becomes clearer and her own stars align.
We have to break patterns so we can get different outcomes in life...end up in different locations
When do u feel most confident?
I thiknk I've always been confident, I become way more confident when I learn my roots about myself
What key experience has shaped you positively?
Moving to Vancouver
One dream you'd like to come true?
Having my property [in Tulum]
One cause that's close to your heart?
Recycling, taking care of water, healing poverty
Best thing about being you?
I'm free and fearless - being free is being authentic and not caring
Name your Sassy tracklist
Nandy & Sho Madjozi - Kunjani
Vanity 6 - Nasty Girl
Kelis -Flash Back
Azealia Banks - Big Big Beat
SWV - Anything
Keep up to date with Leah's workshops and news via IG @leahmaatmcfly and be sure to keep an eye out for her online classes.
Podcast edit and article by Bethany Burgoyne