Monday, February 6, 2012

Poleskivvies has an amazing post on their blog about sensuality, pole dancing and stripping.  Despite being posted almost three years ago, this blog continues to get comments.  And of course, I continue to follow them. I thought this comment, posted a few days ago by a woman named Darci, was quite interesting.  For the full thread click here.  

"Let me preface this by saying that I'm a stripper, and have been for 13 years (started dancing when I was 18). I'm also a visual artist and make a fairly decent living doing that. I would never have been able to make it as an artist without stripping. Everything I learned there about running my own business (from managing my own schedule to taxes) has applied. To me stripping was and is an invaluable job and I would encourage anyone who wanted to try it. I also pole dance outside of the club, both at home and in a dance studio because it's fun and I love doing it.

As far as the pole dancing/stripping interface - I think that what people are eventually going to have to accept is that it's in a different place for every person. Some people pole dance for fitness without ever caring if it's sexy or not. Some people take up pole dancing to learn sexy moves. Some people just love dancing of any kind and embrace the sensuality of the way you can move on the pole as a part of the art form. Any of those people could also be a stripper.

I've see a lot of pole dancing, both in and out of strip clubs, and I've seen girls in clubs who were amazingly gymnastic but honestly not trying to be "sexy", and girls in dance studios who were so sensual and fluid on the pole it would take your breath away.

The whole concept of "sexy" is actually sorta laughable to me because one of the things I've learned after working in strip clubs for this long is that there is no one kind of sexy. Every guy and girl likes something a little different. Some people are going to find any kind of pole dancing sexy - just because that's who they are. Other people couldn't care what kind of dancing you're doing - none of it is sexy or even something they care to watch at all (and yes, you definitely get those kind of people in a strip club).

Overall I think that people who derride pole dancing or stripping do it for the same reason. When a smart, articulate, and often well educated person tells someone that they do something that a smart, articulate, well educated person isn't supposed to do it throws most people off balance mentally. You've just proven their sterotypes wrong simply by speaking to them and, for many people, the only response to this is to now try and cram you into their little mental box where the sterotype used to be. Rather than being annoyed, I'm usually amused by it. Mostly because it's fun to watch people with inflexible minds trying to do the mental gymnastics that making sense of the situation requires."

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What Does it Mean to Teach?

Teach: To impart knowledge or skill
Instruct: To furnish with knowledge

It’s been a while since I’ve written something.  And quite a bit has happened.  Aside from being named Editor-in-Chief of Vertical Art and Fitness magazine (shameless plug to get your subscription HERE), I have also started teaching pole.  This has opened up a whole other side of pole dancing for me.  It is one thing to be a student, and to dedicate yourself to dance.  It is an entirely different thing to teach it.  Becoming a teacher, in my opinion, is an extension of your learning curve – in any subject.  You never stop being a student, even when you teach.  At the same time, when you take on the responsibility of guiding others in a practice, you must lead by example.  This doesn’t mean you need to be flawless, but it does mean that you need to walk the walk.   For example, I can tell my students how to get into their bodies and how to access their emotions in their dance, and I can tell them how to be more sensual, but if I can’t embody those qualities in my movement, then I can’t really guide them to do the same. 
There is a tremendous amount of energy that goes into teaching.  You are pouring your essence, your enthusiasm, your wisdom and your knowledge into others.  You are offering your students support, guidance, encouragement and inspiration.  And you are keeping the energy levels up and positive in the room, while making sure everyone is safe and everyone is learning something.  You really can’t show up to class with anything else on your plate, or your students will feel it. 
I love it.
For me, teaching is about being of service.  It’s about nurturing and cultivating my students and helping them to grow in places they did not think possible.  But it’s also about respect.  In order to teach your students, you have to respect them.  You don’t have to like them, and you don’t have to be friends with them, but you do have to show them respect.  I remember when I first started learning to pole dance I viewed my teachers not just as instructors, but as mentors.  I believed in them and in what they were teaching me, and I had the utmost respect for their insight and wisdom.  Partly this was because they inspired me and partly it was because they acknowledged that whatever journey I was on was my own, and they knew when to get out of the way.  Today, I try to inspire that same feeling in my students - not through flattery and empty cheering, or authority and credentials, but through sincere acknowledgement, careful observation, and kindness. 
As a student, one of the biggest mistakes I saw teachers make was letting their egos get in the way.  If you want to teach, you cannot have an ego about it.  Your students will eventually see through it, and they will tire of it.  It is obvious when your students’ successes mean nothing more to you than a reflection of your own genius, or even worse, dollars in your wallet.  Naturally, everyone is susceptible to this kind of a thing – we are human after all – and we like appreciation.  But teachers who impart knowledge and skill as a one-way flow of information are doing their students and the material a huge disservice. Learning is a co-creative process.  People learn differently and in order to teach properly, you have to be able to understand your students’ learning styles and adjust accordingly.  This is true for pole dance too.  Your students may have blocks or fears in completely different areas.  Being able to identify those areas and help your students move past them requires you to be as aware of what your student is doing as they are of what you are teaching.  In psychology we learn that what you see in someone else is always filtered through your own lens, which is shaped by your own experiences.  It is impossible to make an observation about another human without taking into account your own issues.  This is especially important to remember when you are a teacher because you are being asked to guide another person on their journey.  How you guide them will depend heavily on your own level of self-awareness and humility.
My Marine Wives Class at Camp Pendleton

Of course, all of this is easier said than done.  But the joy must come not just from your success at imparting a skill, but at your student’s happiness at mastering it.

In celebration of my new teaching position at Polistic Dance Studio in Los Angeles, Polistic is offering fans of The Pole Story and Bad Kitty Exoticwear a special discount:  Bring your friend for free to an Intro to Pole class.  Share the link to this blog on Facebook then message me for the Promo Code!