Abby Damen



"When I applied to share my idea worth spreading at TedxPipitea in 2020, I had a very clear motive, which was to shift the ideas we have about what our bodies can't do, to what they can do. In my 6+ years of running a dance company, I've never been met with so much fear, anxiety & feelings of shame around the way that people view their bodies' ability to dance. So I felt compelled to share my idea – which was quite simply to dance in your own way – because you'll discover your very own superpower.

I never could have expected the emotional and mental challenges I faced in writing a TEDx Talk! So I was incredibly grateful and humbled to be surrounded by a team of diverse, thought-leaders themselves and our coaches, whom I found to be patient, passionate and astute as I found my voice, my narrative and my purpose through this embodied and all-consuming experience of sharing not just an idea, but a part of myself, and a part of everyone else who has been a part of my kaupapa. Delivering a TEDx Talk, and not only that, but one in the midst of a global pandemic takes a village FOR SURE – and I think it's safe to say that without the intelligence, wisdom, grace and most of all – a strong sense of hope – that clearly drove the curation & marketing team and each and every speaker, TedxPipitea would not have happened. 

My favourite memories of TEDxPipitea would have to have been our weekly coaching sessions, where I found myself building unexpected friendships, very special connections and new perspectives over virtual meditation sessions, whakatauki and honest korero with each other on our Tuesday evenings. Despite the challenges caused by Covid (and my own insecurities that inevitably reared their ugly and unwelcome head), my experience of writing and delivering a TEDx Talk was bolstered by a fluid, dynamic, highly committed team that could roll with any and every punch. It was nothing short of inspiring and I'd like to think that I too, can roll with any and every punch, after having been on this journey since 2019 (!) and seeing relentless optimism in the face of challenge and change, always win."

Changing The World One Dance Step At A Time

What began as a creative outlet for Abby and her friends, teaching themselves 80s and 90s pop choreography, has grown into a business that brings joy to hundreds Wellington wide through high energy dance classes with a difference - no mirrors allowed. Shocked that their first class attracted more than 60 women who were looking for the same thing - a safe space to move their bodies, have fun, and express themselves without judgement - Abby is here to tell the story of how it all began, and the lessons she’s learned along the way. As she says, “dancing is about how it feels, not how it looks. To dance for yourself is empowering. To dance with others is electric!”

Further Reading:

Shut Up and Dance

"Abby Damen Clair Thomas: Shut Up and Dance" - Youtube

My Website

Abby Damen Portrait