How a local dance troupe is promoting inclusivity, one Mardi Gras dance at a time

In any parade, it’s important for everything on the route to keep rolling. But for local dance troupe The Flamingeauxs, pausing to break it down is a necessary part of the routine.

The Flamingeauxs first took flight in 2020 as a co-ed Mardi Gras dance troupe. Founding members came from other dancing groups around town and banded together to find talented, enthusiastic and accepting people to join their new krewe.

“Our whole point of starting it was to be inclusive,” says Natalie Truax, head of the creative committee. “We welcome men, women, those who can dance, those who can’t dance and any ages. All experience from all backgrounds. … Our main thing was just to get together, dance and have fun.”

“We like to dance, dance, dance.”

[Donata Haley, head of the choreography committee]

Photos by Ben Dezendorf, ShootLife Photography / Courtesy The Flamingeauxs

It’s rare to upstage a parade float, but The Flamingeauxs’ dazzling costumes catch eyes. Members don’t have uniforms. They each make their own parade ’fits, meaning no two Flamingeauxs will have the same feathers. The only requirement is sticking to a color palette of pink and glittery gold. White shoes complete each eccentric ensemble—but anything from comfy sneakers to marching boots is fair game.

“In New Orleans, a lot of those krewes have a specific uniform. But, as long as it’s pink and gold, wear what you want,” Truax says. “And, one of our strengths is our creativity, because everyone comes up with something different.”

Although their flashy costumes capture attention, the dancers wow crowds with choreographed numbers to clean versions of bounce, pop and hip-hop music. Whether dancing to Lizzo or Britney, this group of 50 to 60 members can bust a move to any beat while moving along with the flow of the parade.

“We like to dance, dance, dance,” says Donata Haley, head of the choreography committee. “But, we have to keep (timing) in the back of our heads. It’s like, ‘OK, we actually have to move forward with these moves.’ So that sometimes presents a little bit of a challenge because we kind of have a hip-hop and pop vibe.”

Though their moves are polished for parade days, Haley says it takes practice to look good. During parade season, members commit to two rehearsals per week and learn four dances. The choreography committee also makes step-by-step video tutorials for those last-minute or at-home practices.

Photo by Bobby Hill Jr. / Courtesy The Flamingeauxs

Where to watch The Flamingeauxs this parade season

• Krewe of Artemis
• Krewe of Orion
• Mid City Gras
• Spanish Town Mardi Gras

After Mardi Gras is over, the krewe keeps dancing: It participates in Halloween and Christmas parades, visits nursing homes, volunteers and even cheers on runners in local races. This visibility has helped recruit new members.

“At a lot of those things, we’ve gotten people who have wanted to join,” says Bryce Benzine, head of the social media committee. “It gets people to think, ‘Maybe I want to do that.’”

Those interested in being part of the troupe need to work their way up to a dancing role. New members start as “flockers,” which act as the group’s security on parade days. From there, it’s similar to a credit system, and those who have flocked the most are added to the group.

Most of The Flamingeauxs agree the group has added value to their lives. From connecting with a new community to discovering hidden talents, each Flamingeaux has learned something since joining.

“I wanted to dance ever since I was very small,” says Christopher Hill, treasurer. “I come from a family of cheerleaders and dancers, but being a boy from a small town, that was not very acceptable. … It’s been very fulfilling to sharpen my self training with a more formalized training and fulfill that want that I always had: To be able to actually dance.”

The Flamingeauxs all come from different backgrounds, but they’ve grown into a family by bonding over their love for dance. Next time you see a sparkling sea of pink and gold strutting down the route, it’s a local flamboyance ready to cut a rug. And, yes, singing and dancing along is highly encouraged. theflamingeauxs.com