Ahead Of The Curve
“I want to see more plus-size bodies in a joyful state.” Trina Nicole’s dance platform is accomplishing much more than she imagined. We talk to The Curve Catwalk founder about her plans
By Tomi Otekunrin
Movements are a natural part of dancer and choreographer Trina Nicole’s life, from ones that involve a sequence of steps to those that involve a group of people working towards a shared goal. Being from a Caribbean background, Trina has always been in an environment filled with music and dancing. Notting Hill Carnival is where the choreographer first discovered dancing and she’s been going to the event ever since the age of two. “Notting Hill was like my Christmas every year. I was very excited because I was so confident as a little girl. They would always put me at the front of the bands,” she remembers. Then puberty hit and she stopped dancing due to body changes and feeling self-conscious about the way she looked.
Trina rediscovered her love for dancing in 2018 and decided to create The Curve Catwalk, a dance platform for plus-size bodies. Before creating her platform, the dancer spent years working in TV production, with her last gig being at Sky Sports before she called it quits. “I was putting in so much effort and so many hours into working there, and essentially building up someone else’s company and business that I felt like I was too tired or didn’t have enough time and motivation to put into myself,” she says. “I didn’t have time to build my own dreams and aspirations. And it just didn’t make sense.” Initially, Trina wasn’t so sure how long her new venture would last and gave herself three months before she would have to go back to work. “I never sat down and did a business plan or had this vision of The Curve Catwalk being what it is today,” she explains.
It wasn’t long before the platform turned into an established brand. At the very beginning, Trina started off with monthly dance classes which quickly became oversubscribed, thanks to classic word of mouth. “The platform definitely took off in 2019. And I think that is because there wasn’t anything like it in the UK. So as soon as my friends started coming, they started telling their friends and their cousins. People were just telling people,” says Trina. What started off as a hobby grew into a community and a safe space for plus-size women. The platform’s growing traction drew the attention of the BBC which led to a series of news coverage and then led to the platform’s popularity expanding. Social media also helped, with a few of The Curve Catwalk’s posts going viral too. All in all, the brand’s recognition grew organically, which is every entrepreneur’s dream.
With The Curve Catwalk being a space for plus-size women, topics such as body positivity and inclusivity naturally come up. Nicole refers to herself as a Body Confidence Advocate as she’s not a fan of the current body positivity movement happening in the media. “I feel like it has been completely diluted and co-opted. I mostly see a lot of caucasian women who, you know, might have a little fold here or a little fold there,” she says. “And I think it’s kind of lost its way in terms of why the movement was created and the fact that it was actually created by fat, Black women specifically.”
The dancer also doesn’t subscribe to the idea of always having to feel positive about your body and feels like it should be more about acceptance. Trina wanted to create a space for Black plus-size women who felt left out of such movements. “I think that’s another reason why I love what I’m doing with The Curve Catwalk, because it’s important for me to see people, not only those who are plus-size in that type of representation, but Black plus-size women as well.”
There’s a wide contention on whether dancing is even a sport, though anyone who has scrolled through Trina’s routines on Instagram will surely agree that it meets the requirements. “I definitely think dancing is a sport. It engages your whole body in an activity that increases your heart rate and works on your core strength. It absolutely requires discipline, just like any other sport. It requires training like any other sport,” she adds. Nike obviously shared the sentiment and wasted no time in making Trina its latest ambassador.
The world’s biggest sportswear brand actually approached the choreographer first after discovering her on social media. They loved the community that Trina was growing with The Curve Catwalk and wanted to help support it. She explains, “The thing that mattered most was that our values aligned. And they really cared about the bigger vision and the mission of The Curve Catwalk. So yeah, it feels like a really authentic partnership.”
Since partnering with Nike, Trina has starred in multiple campaigns and has also created a Bra edit for the brand. “I thought I would be completely out of my depth and like, not know what to write, not know what to say,” she explains. “But I think the thing that really resonated with me and what I loved about this whole campaign and ambassadorship as a whole is that obviously I just get to be myself, like completely authentic.” As part of the Bra edit, the dancer shared tips on how to get well-fitted bras as a plus-size woman with a larger chest. Finding great workout gear for plus-size women is often difficult and even stops a lot of women from engaging in sports activities. “It’s great knowing that I can go and buy workout clothes that will fit me. It will definitely encourage people to feel like they can go out and do more to get active.”
Trina has also collaborated with British Vogue through her Nike ambassadorship, with a powerful dance routine that showcases the discipline and dedication that dancing requires. For the choreographer, the video wasn’t only about proving how good of a dancer she is, it was also about putting her community on the map. “I posted on LinkedIn the other day that everybody can contribute to change. So it’s not like I’m the person that thinks I’m going to change the world. But for me, this is my contribution for allowing girls who look like me to feel seen and feel represented, because I believe that their visibility really is important,” she says. Trina greatly believes that being visible also got her opportunities to work with big stars such as Beyoncé and Lizzo. “It’s crazy to say but those opportunities happened through social media and people sliding into my DMs. But it really just affirmed to me that it’s okay to put videos out there of me dancing and it’s okay to share my opinions. I always encourage people to shout about what they’re doing and self promote. You’ve got to be your biggest fan, really.”
At present, The Curve Catwalk is very London-centric and Trina is hoping to change this shortly. “I would love for Nike to support me in creating spaces that can branch out further to help increase the platform’s reach. I would love to start with key cities like Birmingham and Manchester and build communities there because obviously, there’s so much that always happens in London and nowhere else,” she says. At the heart of her work, the main mission is increasing the visibility of plus-size women, especially Black plus-size women. But recently for Trina, it’s not only about seeing more of them in the media, it’s also about changing the way they’re depicted. “I don’t see larger bodies that are in a joyful state. So last year I even had to amend what my brand’s mission was. I used to just work on increasing the visibility of plus-size bodies,” she says. “But actually I also want to see more plus-size bodies in a joyful state.”
Joy is at the essence of everything The Curve Catwalk is. Yes, it’s a dance platform that helps plus-size women get active but it is also a space for fun too. In the early days, the platform started with members strutting around the dance studio in heels while others cheered them on. Hence the name: The Curve Catwalk. The exercise was meant to mirror an updated version of Soul Train to boost people’s confidence and bring joy – the same feelings Trina felt when she danced on floats at Notting Hill Carnival as a child.
The success of The Curve Catwalk is built off Trina Nicole. “I think authenticity is my superpower! It’s my most important quality and how I think it relates to my business. The Curve Catwalk is based on me. It’s built on my story, on my frustration in a space that I wanted for myself,” she explains. People come for the class and stay for Trina. “People connect with people. Even if you take away The Curve Catwalk brand, a lot of women come to the classes for me. People want that human connection. I’m very much aware that I am the person that makes The Curve Catwalk what it is.”