Erik Cavanaugh may not look like your typical ballet dancer, but his body-positive message to young artists is simply on pointe. The 23-year-old from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has made it his mission “to change the mind and shape of dancers” around the globe.
"I want people to open their eyes to seeing that dance is for everyone; everyone and anyone is capable of dancing if they put their mind and heart into it," he told TODAY.
It was during junior high when Cavanaugh realized his love of dancing, and since then, has used the form of expression to send a greater message about the stereotypes in which we associate ballerinas today.
Cavanaugh is now being viewed as a role model, proving that dancers come in all shapes and sizes.
"I hope to make a difference in the world of dance so that young kids everywhere will not be afraid to take the chance of falling in love with dance, despite any limitations society puts on them," he said.
And with that, Cavanaugh hopes to empower anyone and everyone interested in the craft, regardless of their body type.
"Body positivity is important because you are given one life, one body, one chance," he said. "So why waste time hating parts of yourself because others say it isn't right? Everyone is beautiful and no scale or body size can ever determine your self-worth."
He has this piece of advice for young dancers:
"Push yourself and make sure you're going to be the best you can ever be. Your passion can outweigh anyone's perception of yourself. Never let another person set your limitations; you decide how far you will go in life."