AKIRA ARMSTRONG began her intensive dance, drama, and vocal training at age 8 years old while attending Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center, in the Bronx, New York. Akira was hand-picked to participate in a high-level merit program. Akira is also a former student of the Alvin Ailey school and has always possessed many talents as she performed all over New York City, as she perfected her craft of dance.
Following her graduation from professional performing arts high school, Ms. Armstrong studied at Syracuse University, where she received her B. A. in Public Relations/Education. She has performed with the Jubilation Dance Company, the Bernice Johnson Dance Company, and the Ladies of Hip Hop at Cosmo Theater in Vienna, Austria. Dance has also led her to perform on the stage of the world famous Apollo Theater.
In 2007, Akira debuted as a principal dancer in two of Beyonce's music videos: “Greenlight" and "Get Me Bodied". Due to the bias faced by plus-size dancers, Akira formed Pretty BIG Movement in the spring of 2008. Her talents encompass more than just dance. In 2011 Akira worked with hip hop legends "Salt-n-Pepa” as their personal makeup artist and has traveled alongside them to countries such as Dubai and Australia. Initially, after realizing a need in the community, Akira began conducting workshops that were primarily based on appearance enhancement. Today, Pretty BIG Movement is the 1st Plus Size Dance Company.
In 2015, Pretty BIG Movement was featured in a video entitled “Personally”. This video was a homage to all of the black men and women who were victims of police brutality and a tribute to the “Black Lives Matter” movement. In February 2017 The Scene interviewed Akira and the members of Pretty BIG Movement, the video went viral and over 21.5 million viewers became aware of Pretty BIG Movement and Akira's desire to enhance one’s outlook on their personal appearance.
After a plethora of press articles and being a guest on the Harry Connick Jr. show, the ladies of Pretty BIG Movement was contacted by Lane Bryant. This was a catalyst for change that provided Pretty BIG with more visibility as Lane Bryant stores around the nation featured these curvy dancers in billboards and store windows. Akira and Pretty BIG Movement appearances, performances and ad campaigns include:
Principal dancer – “Black Girls Rock” – Jennifer Hudson (2013) Principal dancer – “Black Girls Rock” – Jazmine Sullivan (2016) America’s Got Talent (2016) Harry Connick Jr. (February 2017) Lifetime Show "Dance Moms" (February 2017) Lane Bryant #thisbody campaign (February 2017) Performance for the City of Miramar in Fort Lauderdale (March 2017) Nationwide Children’s Hospital Charity Event (March 2017) Panelist & Judge at RuPaul DragCon – LA Convention Center (April 2017) Alvin Ailey Theater – Ladies of Hip Hop Festival
Panels: High Heels; High Standards – Keynote Speaker along with Yandy Harris-Smith “Love & Hip Hop" Ms. Katrina Walker (Self-Made Millionaire) and Kira J – Spoken Word Artist – (Viral Video) Akira is the artistic instructor for the following:
Leaps and Bounds Dance School – Brooklyn, NY
Harlem School of the Arts – New York, NY
Alvin Ailey’s Arts and Education Program – New York, NY (for the past 8 years)
Akira teaches West African, Hip-Hop, and Modern dance routines. Pretty BIG Movement performs, conducts workshops, and travels internationally providing empowerment tools for women and the community for who need to be inspired, elevated, self-aware and reminded of their inner and outer beauty. Akira is passionate about image, fashion, and beauty. It is her personal mission to utilize her artistic background to inspire Pretty BIG members, the community, and workshop attendees. Her goal is to empower and encourage everyone she meets to reach their full potential and convey these messages in each workshop, appearance, and panel event, through dance, proving that size has no barrier. The ultimate goal for Akira is to tour all over the world with her Pretty BIG Movement squad.