How Do Pole Stars Categorize Themselves?

I’ve been thinking lately about pole and how we describe it to people unfamiliar with our discipline:
“It’s like cirque stuff, you know the aerial silks and hoops? I do aerial pole.”
“I pole dance, but I’m not a stripper. It’s a great workout!”
“I love to dance, and pole is another form of dancing, with tons of contemporary influences.”

I’m in the middle of an internal debate about what to do regarding pole and my Facebook, since I just started a new professional job. I don’t necessarily want my coworkers to see videos or pictures of me in skimpy pole outfits, but at the same time, I know I’m not doing anything wrong or morally questionable.  Should I create a separate Facebook page for my “pole persona”? Do I make it another person, or a page? If I were to make it a page, what category would I put myself under? From there, I started wondering about how pole stars categorize themselves.

I used BadKitty’s Brand Ambassadors page and the Pole Expo Workshop list of teachers, plus whoever I could think of on my own to compile a list of pole stars, their public pages, and what category they decided they were. This is not an exhaustive list, by any means, but it’s a lot of the big name pole stars. I admit there’s a lot of assumption going on here: that all categories were available when they made their pages, that each pole star did indeed create their own page (as opposed to a manager or even just a fan), that everyone defines each category the same way, that they had to choose something and couldn’t define it themselves.

The results surprised me, to be honest. I wasn’t sure how I would categorize myself in a public space like Facebook, but I quickly realized my feelings when I caught myself being excited when someone ended up having a Dancer page, and somewhat letdown when someone had a Sportsperson page. Based on my reactions to my research, I would create my pole page under the Dancer category.

Here are the results in chart form:

categorypiechart

categorybarchart

 

Below I listed each person I looked up and which category their Facebook page fell under. Some of them were no surprise: of course Alethea Austin is a Dancer, and I expected Zoraya Judd to fall under Sportsperson, but quite a few of them were unexpected to me: Leigh Ann Reilly, Pink Puma and Karol Helms are dancers to me. Once I realized that some people had categorized themselves under Entertainer, I wondered why more hadn’t. Felix Cane, Jenyne Butterfly, and Nadia Sharif are some of the best examples of entertainers I can think of. And then there are the artists, which is one of my favorite categories, and I think the people there really put themselves in the right one, especially Phoenix Kazree. But aren’t Natasha Wang, and Sergia Anderson, and Michelle Stanek all artists too? I think that’s where the problem begins: there are several options that all fit for polers, dancers, athletes, anyone who moves their body for a living. Every dancer is an artist, an entertainer, an athlete.

Perhaps there should just be a Facebook page category called Poler.

Artist:
Amanda Rose
Kelly Yvonne
Phoenix Kazree
Suwasit Ritthipon

Company:
Oona K.

Dancer:
Alethea Austin
Amy Guion
Cleo the Hurricane
Doris Arnold
Michelle Shimmy
Michelle Stanek
Sarah Jade
Sergia Anderson
Shaina Cruea

Entertainer:
Carlie Hunter
Jamilla Deville (Arts & Entertainment)
Josiah “Bad Azz” Grant (Arts & Entertainment)
Rebecca Starr
Steven Retchless
Tiff Finney
Timber Brown

Sportsperson:
Allison Sipes
Amy Hazel
Anastasia Skukhtorova
Becca Buck
Bendy Kate
Charlee Wagner
Derick Pierson
Estee Zakar
Evgeny Greshilov
Felix Cane
Flying Laura
Greta Pontarelli
Jenyne Butterfly
Karol Helms
Leigh Ann Reilly
Lindsay Green
Lou Landers
Lynn Green
Marion Crampe
Marlo Fisken
Michelle Natoli
Nadia Sharif
Natasha Wang
Pink Puma
Rafaela Montanaro
Samantha Star
Sarah Scott
Sasja Lee
Zoraya Judd

 

Pole for a Purpose 2014

This was my third year performing in Pole for a Purpose, which is a pole show put on to benefit charity, usually a domestic violence or women’s help shelter. The first year we had a lyra and pole piece, which I absolutely loved, and last year we did the same routine we performed at International Pole Convention a few months prior. It’s always a really fun event since there’s no pressure like a competition and we all have a chance to let loose and really have fun. There are tons of group performances and Buttercup Pole Dance always brings it! Two years ago they did a great Britney Spears routine, and this year they wowed the audience with a dubstep Super Mario Bros. theme!

We had a couple hiccups in the planning of this routine: various injuries, people unable to participate, people out of town two weeks beforehand… we put this routine together in a week! There were a couple mistakes, but it was still fun. I love having a chance to really show off the sexy side of pole since I focus on the dramatic side in competitions.

Circus – Britney Spears (Part 1)

I hadn’t done a chair routine or a Britney song in a while, so I figured it was time for both together!

I like simple but fun routines, and I think this one fits the bill. It’s quite simple, so I’m planning on adding more to it and teaching it again plus the rest next week. I think we can get a pretty good chair routine down to the whole song!

Any song requests or moves that you want to see incorporated into a routine?

2014 Goal #5: Accomplished!

I finally got Marion Amber consistently! Just hitting a trick once or twice doesn’t count as getting it in my book, so over the course of a few days I did Marion Amber over and over and over until I figured out how to get it every time. (Guess what? It’s all in my hips. Go figure.)

Video proof! I’m not going to include all the videos of me trying and failing, though they may show up in a practice video compilation I’m… compiling.

Seven Devils – Florence and the Machine

We’ve been working on floorwork recently in preparation for Pole for a Purpose, and since I knocked down the pole in my house yesterday, it was a good day for a floorwork routine!

I first heard this song in Maggie Ann’s winning NAPA routine, which is incredible.  It’s a great song to do slow and controlled moves to, which is exactly what I wanted for this particular floorwork routine. A lot of time can be taken up with very few moves if you focus on each aspect of the move and make it important. Hitting on little beats, the exact moment your legs straighten, how purposefully you lower a limb to the ground… it’s those small things that make a trick-light routine look amazing. I think we nailed it last night!

How to Look Good in Heels

Dancing with heels on is a completely different animal from dancing with bare feet. I see a lot of women wearing heels during my poleography classes, and one thing becomes quite apparent: most people do not know how to dance in heels. You can’t just strap on a pair of 7-inchers and expect to do the exact same movements you were just doing barefoot. I love dancing in heels, so here are a few tips I’ve learned over my many years of increasingly high heel-wearing:

1) Still walk heel to toe. I see this most often with teenage girls and women who don’t often wear heels: they clomp around, picking up their whole foot and then putting it straight down. When you’re barefoot or wearing normal shoes, you walk from heel to toe. Otherwise, it’s a stomp. The same motion applies to heeled shoes: walk from heel to toe. Yes, it’s harder. Yes, you’ll have to take smaller steps. No, it won’t be as exaggerated of a motion as when you’re barefoot, but it’s still there. Here’s Sarah Jade at USPDF 2012:

sarahankle

2) That being said, when dancing – not walking – around the pole, keep your weight on the balls of your feet. Even if the heel is on the floor, put your weight over your toes. It makes your body look lighter and every movement look more effortless. Putting your weight on the balls of your feet is also necessary for some moves: try doing a full pirouette on your heels (bare or in shoes) on the floor! It’s a little thing, but it makes a big difference in the overall feel of grace, elegance, and sexiness. Look how forward Sarah Jade’s ankle is in the picture below. Also, can you tell which direction she’s going to walk in next? When you keep your weight over the balls of your feet, you can easily switch direction since it’s necessary to have your heels off the floor when pivoting.

sarahsquat

3) Pointing your feet involves two separate actions: pointing your ankles, and pointing your toes.  When your feet are off the floor, point your ankles. You can’t point your toes in heels, but you can point your ankles. Even though dancers are constantly being told to point their toes, don’t try to point your toes in heels: it makes the ball of your foot squinch up (the technical term) and your foot slides back out of the strap. Plus, it’s just not easy to do!

pointinginheels

4) Now that you’re not trying to point your toes, make sure to always push through your ankles. If you’re wearing heels, you CANNOT have flexed ankles. Take a look at Alethea Austin or Sarah Jade and focus on their ankles. They are constantly stretching through their ankles to create absolutely beautiful lines with their legs, even when their feet are on the floor. When you flex your ankle, you break that line and it just doesn’t look very nice. Heels highlight your feet, so it looks even worse to have flexed feet than it does barefoot! (Not to say there isn’t a time and place for flexed bare feet in dancing).

aletheaanklepush

5) When pole dancing, tailor your moves to work with shoes. You can achieve some moves in heels that you can’t in barefeet, especially floorwork and slides. Because there’s an extra three inches added to the bottom of your foot, it’s easier to touch your feet to your head too. Some people grab onto their heel for Eagle or Cocoon, but I tend to think that’s cheating. Split moves and flashy legwork tend to look better in heels as well. There are some moves, however, that just will not work in heels: Russian split (unless you wear ballroom heels a la Pink Puma), mounting the pole by stepping on it and swinging your other leg up, or any floorwork move where you need your toes to push off the floor. Be sure to take your heels (and any extra weight they may add) into account when choreographing a routine.

pinkpumaheels

Now go forth and rock those stilettos!