Dance coach responds to controversy surrounding parade performance

“There’s a lot of things... that are a lot worse than just someone out here dancing in a leotard.”
Some people said it wasn't family friendly, because of a transgender woman leading a dance group in what they described as revealing clothing.
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 6:49 PM EST
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SHALLOTTE, N.C. (WECT) - Complaints came in following Shallotte’s Christmas parade on Saturday after some people thought it wasn’t family-friendly because of a transgender woman in what they described as revealing clothing.

“There’s a lot of things out here that are going on that are a lot worse than just someone out here dancing in a leotard,” said Na’Kita Monroe, who leads the Keep it Cute Dance Company.

Monroe and at least four other girls took part in Shallotte’s Christmas parade on Saturday, all dressed in matching black leotards. Monroe says she chose those outfits under the assumption that it would be a colder day, so the long sleeves would keep the girls warm. They also wore tights beneath the leotards, a traditional look for majorette dance groups like Keep it Cute.

“J-setting is actually the type of style I used in the parade,” said Monroe. “It’s basically call and response.”

Monroe was leading the other girls through the parade with dance moves like bucking, commonly mistaken as “twerking.”

“When I have talked to some other majorette dance coaches, they said that in holiday parades, they don’t normally do a lot of bucking,” said Monroe. I decided to add it in and incorporate it into some of my routines only because it was a cultural experience.”

She says the group had great energy throughout the day and many people told them they enjoyed their performance. The tone changed, however, when others took to Facebook.

“There was a group page that had been tagging, I guess, the town saying that they felt disrespected by what was portrayed on the parade route and that they felt like everything was just not appropriate,” said Monroe.

Many of those concerned citizens took issue with the “twerking” in Monroe’s routine but a common complaint was about her outfit.

“I don’t care what people do, I think the dress was inappropriate for a Christmas parade with small children,” said Bill Miller, who was at the parade and shared those concerns.

“Honestly, when you wear leotards, they rise and then with the type of dance styling that it was, you know, having to squat a little and having to do high kicks, sometimes the things just ride up,” said Monroe.

Monroe says she wore two pairs of skin-colored tights beneath her leotard to keep herself covered and that she readjusted her costume several times throughout the parade to mediate the problem with the costume riding up. Still, some say that shouldn’t have been an issue, to begin with.

“At least have a respectable dress code as far as that goes,” said Miller.

That just might happen. Mayor Walter Eccard says leaders will meet Friday to discuss how to make future parades better.

“I anticipate that next year we’ll both have a dress code and a behavior code,” said Eccard. “There were a few other little incidents that we’ll also be addressing.”

Another complaint that floated around on social media was the fact that Monroe is a transgender woman. Some said her dance company should have never been allowed in the parade. Eccard says the town is not in the business of excluding people.

“The parade is a public event and we open it to the people,” said Eccard. “Now, it is a family event and we try to be very conscious of that. We will look at this year’s parade and make some adjustments for next year but we will not make adjustments as to who is allowed to participate and not participate.”

As for Monroe, she understands some of the community’s concerns.

“The only thing that I feel sorry about was the fact that I did not apply enough fabric to my costume to where it was just a little too much revealing,” said Monroe. “As far as the dance style, as far as my choreography, I don’t feel sorry about that. Dance is an expression of how you feel.”

One thing she isn’t apologizing for, however, is being herself. She only hopes her neighbors come to accept her and all she has to offer.

“Just be nice,” said Monroe. “Find different, you know, other ways to share your opinion versus being hateful.”