How long have you been pole dancing? How did you start?
I have been pole dancing since 2014. I started because I had experienced several deaths in my family, and my mom had just had a heart attack at 57 a few months prior. While she had always been on the thinner side, she definitely wasnt taking care of herself. Her health scare made me turn inwards and ask, how was I taking care of myself? In tandem with feeling depressed from the grief, I knew that I needed an exercise routine, so i tried everything i could - barre, kick boxing, yoga, water aerobics, crossfit, so many! I desperately wanted to find a workout routine that was fun, rewarding, and inspiring, in the hopes that i would stick with it. Pole dancing was such a different experience from the very bigginning. I felt so out of my comfort zone, but so inspired! I knew walking out of my first class that this was it for me!
What made you try Pole Dancing?
I have always been very impressed with the athleticism of professional pole dancers. So when the opportunity came for me to see into that world and learn their secrets I was excited! I also loved how it was completely different from what I expected it to be. And it continues to challenge and inspire me!
What advice do you give beginning pole dancers? Advanced students?
To the beginners: Be patient with yourself, don't rush and relish the small achievements. Everyone will tell you that, but here's the real talk: fight like crazy against that voice inside you that says that "you aren't good enough/pretty enough/thin enough/fluid enough/flexible enough ETC ETC" It's not being honest, it's just the voice of a horrible bitch and you can't trust it! Focus on building up that positive voice inside of you and keep coming back; keep practicing!
To advanced students: It's normal to have your affinity for pole wax and wain. But in those waining moments turn to your community to support you and inspire you. Be ok with starting at the beginning to learn new movement and new styles. Stay dedicated to doing what makes you feel good.
Why did you start teaching?
I started teaching because it felt like the right step for me. I have always been good in teaching roles, and I was excited to help other people in ways that I felt was missing in my own education. I also really loved being a beginner because it was the most exciting part, and I wanted to stay in touch with that.
What is different about your teaching style that you think students are drawn to?
Having no dance education in my back pocket, I think I can really connect to students who feel like they are coming at this effort blind. I am a very technical thinker and an analyzer, which allows me to bring very clear instructions to my students. I am also a big believer in making sure that students are conscious of their movements and WHY they are moving that way. I think my students appreciate that in my class you are going to be learning solid technique and that I don't let my students develop poor body-memory (which honestly is the hardest thing to rewire).
What would you say is the biggest struggle or obstacle among pole dance students that you come across? What would be your advice to them?
A lack of self-love and appreciation is the most uniting struggle it seems. We spend a lot of time admiring other peoples' movement and tricks but we definitely dont spend enough time celebrating our achievements and praising ourselves. My advice is, we can't change things we arent present with - stay conscious of when those negative narratives arrive and take the time to relish how amazing your body is!
What would your advice be for students who want to find their own style in dance?
I dont know if I have done that yet, it's such a journey!...but i think its helpful to try and capitalize on the movements that come easily to you at first, for me those moves involve my back which is the most flexible part of my body and my butt which I've always felt is my sexiest attribute. I still find dancing the hardest part of my experience, and I am still trying to not let that feeling of not being "in the zone" derail my movement. But practice, practice, practice!
What are your feelings about pole dancing for fitness being associated with exotic dancing/stripping?
Personally, I dont really have any feelings about it; I just want my sisters in the clubs to feel welcome in establishments where learning safe technique is the main objective. I think society chastising women is an endless story, and I'm over it. Internalized misogyny is real and it is the worst reason to hate other women, or not embrace your sexuality and celebrate your strength and beauty.
What are your thoughts about pole dancing being included in the Olympics as a sport?
I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT IT! When i look at gymnasts and ice skaters I see so much over-lap in our technique and movements, it only makes sense that this should be a part of the Olympics because it's also SO HARD
What is your teaching philosophy?
Keep your mind, body and intention aligned and focused - if you're aware of what you're doing, it's easy to change, if you embed flawed technique in your muscle memory, you're making your job harder!
Where do you see Pole Dancing ten years from now?
Im not sure if it will be as popular as it is now. But I do think the sport overall will be much more streamlined and technically clear-cut; the terminology will become ubiquitous globally and I hope that some of the conversations around exotic and "stripper style" has been laid to rest.
What is special in pole dance for you in your opinion?
On and individual level, the community and the mental and physical empowerment you gain. On a general level, I think that pole dancing is really unique in that there are so many avenues one can explore. It feels limitless and for all ages, stages, and levels. There is never a time when you're "the best" because there's always something else that you could be better at.
What has been your biggest challenge in your pole journey? How did you overcome the difficulty/challenge?
My biggest challenge is flexibility in my hips and legs and where that ties into my dancing. I really want to do a lot of things that I have tried for a long time to achieve - rolling through my middle splits is a dream of mine! But I have come to accept that that may never happen for me, and that's ok. I have also struggled to stay motivated and in shape when i'm healing from injuries. I quickly slip back into my lazy ways...old habits die hard.
What has been the most challenging move/trick to learn?
The Scottish Spin *not sure if there are other names for it* it's not a very popular move, and many instructors dont like it, but regardless I just can't get it no matter how many times I try! It's so frustrating! It's a pretty basic level spin and I've watched so many people get it right away. Someday I hope I can figure it out, even if i never use it
What is your favorite pole dancing move?
Ayesha moves and moves that feature my back flexibility. I have always felt that Ayeisha moves came very easily to me; I've always felt stable and very comfortable in it from the beginning.
What is your greatest achievement so far in pole dance?
Competing is by far my biggest accomplishment. Having never performed on a stage before, it has taught me so much about myself and what type of person I am (and how I handle stress!) I am usually a great starter but a horrible finisher, so when i compete it really feels like a huge success.
What are you currently working on? What are your goals for this year?
My goals are to gain greater flexibility and focus on developing that with fluidity in my dancing/movement. Maybe this will be the year I finally get my middle splits!
Besides Pole Dancing, are you involved in any other activities?
With the amount of time I spend on pole there is no time for anything else.
What is your proudest moment in your career?
As a pole dance instructor, my proudest moment was the first time a student came up to me to tell me how much they enjoy my teaching approach. It was so affirming. And as cliche as it sounds, when you feel like you've helped even one person, it makes every other aspect totally worth it.
What has made you stick with Pole Dancing?
The challenge! I just cant get enough of the instant gratification and the long-game that is Pole Dancing!
How did people around you react when they learned that you were doing pole dance?
I have a pretty small circle and everyone within it was very supportive. We tend not to interject into each other's lives too much. As my own engagement has grown I have become less hesitant to reveal that I pole dance to people in general. I care more about correcting their conceptions than what they might think about me in the process. I love it and that's all that matters.
Do you perform regularly?
No. I am still trying to get comfortable with performing on stage.
What is the most important in a pole dance performance in your opinion?
Lines. It just makes you look great when you've really got that element down.
Do you have any pole idols? Anyone in the pole community who inspires you?
SO MANY! Maddie Sparkle, Suwasit, Phoenix Kazeree, Marion Crampe, Natalia Tatarintseva, Peter Holoda, Anastasia Skukhtorova, Yvonne Smink, just to name a few, because there are so many great athletes out there.
What is your favorite pole workout wear?
I have yet to find a brand where i love everything they make. I really enjoy my Dirdy Birdy v-shorts, they make my booty look really great! I also have some colorful lululemon sports bras that feel super supportive, and their seamless leggings are great - I hate camel toe from seams and seam imprints in my skin so im always on the lookout for seamless options.
What are your other hobbies?
I love working in the fiber arts - I spin, knit, weave, dye wool and other fibers; I enjoy sewing simple projects (and I wish I was a better at sewing); I love to cook (and I'm pretty good at it); I do lots of things. I am quite the Renaissance woman!
What do you do in your free time? Off the pole?
Rest! No seriously, I like to keep my life super low-key. I love to travel when i have a long stretch where that's possible.
What is your all-time favorite song to pole to?
Impossible to answer!
Can you share a favorite pole dance photo of yourself?
See above. This will probably always be my favorite picture of myself pole dancing, because it was my first competition and this move, The Seahorse, was really challenging to execute perfectly. I struggled 90% of the time in practice to hold it and/or to land it facing the right direction. I was SO STRESSED OUT about this routine and this moment particularly, but when the moment came, I nailed it.
Give us a sexy floorwork song.
Glass Animals "Gooey"