Leiomy Maldonado has been on the Voguing/Ballroom scene for a while and she is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in that world. Her moves have inspired the choreography of some of music’s biggest stars, including Beyoncé. Yet, she didn’t join the scene to make it big. This trans puertorriqueña from the Bronx found an escape and stress reliever in dance. It was later in her career that she realized that it was what she was called to do. Maldonado spoke to mitú about dance, life, and inspiring major music stars.
Leiomy Maldonado is a dance icon but it wasn’t always that way.
Maldonado was first introduced to voguing when she was only about 14 or 15 years old. She was at the Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx when a chance encounter with a stranger introduced her, via VHS, to the world of voguing.
Maldonado admits that she was immediately fascinated by voguing and wanted to know more. Before she knew it, it became her stress reliever.
“From the beginning, I really didn’t think that I’d be making a career or that I would have grown this passionate about dance,” Maldonado told mitú. “For me, in the beginning, I just fell in love with that style and me going through the transition in my life, I didn’t know how to express that and I used voguing to do that. With using voguing as a stress reliever, I fell in love with the style and fell in love with just the dance overall and from there, people started seeing me and people started telling me that I was going to be something and that I had something special.”
Maldonado said that she always felt supported by her family in her dance career.
“They [my family] always did [support my ambitions]. For me, I’ve always been the person to go for what I like and what I believe in and things like that,” Maldonado told mitú. “I didn’t really rely on support from my family even though they were supportive. It was just something that I was like, “This is what I’m going to do and I really don’t care who has anything to say about it or who thinks anything about whatever. I’m just doing it because I want to.’”
But it wasn’t until “America’s Best Dance Crew” that Maldonado’s family truly understood what their daughter meant by transitioning and pursuing a serious career in dance.
“It wasn’t until I was on “America’s Best Dance Crew” that they kind of started to understand more because I was able to express myself through TV and explain a little bit of my story and they were able to see that themselves and see why I wasn’t around,” Maldonado told mitú about a moment she realized dance was what she was supposed to be doing. “After that, they understood my career; they understood the woman that I’ve always been and that I’ve grown into. You know, just being confident.”
Maldonado also said it helped her family learn about her transition. “When I began my transition, my family didn’t quite understand what it was because, back then, people weren’t really educated on what being trans was. You either were gay or a lesbian. Like, if you were born a male and showed signs for femininity they would just automatically label you as being gay.” She continued saying, “It wasn’t until I was on “America’s Best Dance Crew” that they kind of started to understand more because I was able to express myself through TV and explain a little bit of my story and they were able to see that themselves and see why I wasn’t around. After that, they understood my career; they understood the woman that I’ve always been and that I’ve grown into. You know, just being confident.”
As her dance career grew, so did the number of people imitating her style until it reached peak mainstream culture a la Beyoncé.
At first, Maldonado says that she was excited and a little flattered that big stars were using her dance moves but after a while, she realized that people weren’t giving her any credit and only people who knew her knew that she created the moves.
So, she did what any dance icon does (not really). She started her own ballroom house, The House Of Amazon.
The House of Amazon is not about walking balls and being “fab”. I created my house to help my kids grown individually in…
“I’ve been a part of a few houses. Actually last year, I introduced my house, which was the house that I opened, the House of Amazon, I introduced to the ballroom scene. We’ve been open for about two years now,” Maldonado told mitú. “Houses are like families so that all depends on what kind of people you want to be around. Every family has their own style their own kind of surroundings or people who they deal with or things that they do and it all depends.”
If there is anything Maldonado would tell other LGBTQ Latinx about thriving it’s to build confidence in who you are.
“I would like to share that I was an underdog in the beginning. I feel like it took a lot of struggles and things for me to go through that I went through within the ballroom for me to become as strong and confident as I am now,” Maldonado tells LGBTQ youths. “I feel like a lot of people look for confidence and they look for acceptance in other people but they don’t accept themselves yet and I feel like that’s very important. You have to love yourself and accept yourself before you can grow and be part of other people.”