Thursday, September 22, 2011
Spotlight on Claire of The Pole Story!
Claire writes a blog called The Pole Story (which she recently turned into a book!). I've always LOVED her photos and, for some reason, have also felt a little naughty reading her posts (I think its the photo at the top...for most of the time I'm on her site, I'm thinking, "why can't that be MY back and butt!!!"). She's a sexy, gorgeous, smart, an amazing writer...just the perfect package!
Your educational background interests me so much...did you get into psychology or pole dancing first?
Actually I got into pole and psychology at almost exactly the same time. I started my MA in Somatic Psychology the same year I started pole dancing - 2006. And because somatic psychology looks at psychology and emotions through the lens of the mind-body connection, I immediately noticed an overlap between what I was studying in school and what I was learning in dance class. Specifically, that pole dance was changing the way women viewed their sexuality and their bodies in a very profound way.
Haha! Great question! Nobody knows what the heck Somatic Psychology is! As I said earlier, Somatic Psychology looks at psychology and emotions through the lens of the mind-body connection. Specifically, it focuses on how creating a conscious awareness of your body through movement, breath and sensory awareness can help you to tap into and process emotions. It's based on the premise that the body and the mind are in a constant state of communication through mutual feedback loops. So in order to work with the mind, you need to work with the body and vice versa.
Tell me about your thesis, The Embodiment of Female Sexuality Through Erotic Dance.
I wrote my thesis on how pole dancing is helping women to connect with their sexuality. The paper basically looks at what the value of being embodied is (that is, having a a conscious awareness of one's body) with regards to sexuality, and how pole dancing or erotic dance can help with this. It also examines some of the cultural prejudices around female sexuality as well as the history of exotic and pole dance. It's actually quite boring to read unless you are in academia! That's why I wrote my book, "Pole Story:Essays on the Power of Erotic Dance". I wanted to take some of the principles of my thesis and distill them into easy-to-read, fun essays.
What is your day job?
I'm a massage therapist! That's how I got into Somatic Psychology. I was seeing a lot of emotions come out when I worked on my clients and I got really curious about that. I still do massage part time and I also teach pole dancing and sensuality workshops.
I am a PFA certified pole instructor and I've been pole dancing for 4-5 years. I have a good understanding of the body from my massage work as well as other fitness training that I do. But I never got hooked on working out until I started pole!
What is your fitness routine (on and off the pole)?
I go to hour long pole classes twice a week, a pole conditioning class once a week, and a floor work/ sensual movement class twice a week. I also occasionally train one-on-one with my Pilates Instructor, Michelle Blum. She has changed my body profoundly and helped me to get strong for the pole. She taught me a lot about my body and exercise.
What kind of diet do you follow?
I'm so bad! I'm currently on a 21 day cleanse and that is exceptional. I try to eat a lot of protein and greens, but the truth is I love cheese and bread and wine. I mean, I'm half French! I try to work out enough to be able to eat what I want, but my age is against me at this point.
Do you have a dance background?
I studied jazz and ballet in high school and college but no, I have no formal dance background. I'm actually terrible at following choreography, which is why I like pole dancing so much. I can freestyle it.
No, never. I got into pole dancing because it made me feel good about my body, who I am and how I move. The last thing I want is to be judged on that. I respect the women who do compete, but it's never what drew me to pole dancing.
What interested you about pole dancing?
It's subversive and sexy. It teaches women how to get in touch with their bodies and their sensuality. When I first tried pole dancing, I felt like I was being let in on a little secret that existed just for women. I never cared about the tricks. I just wanted to get super comfortable moving my body in a sensual way.
Do you have a preference? "pole fitness" or "pole dancing"
Pole dancing. To me it's always been about the dance. It's nice that you get fit doing it. But I don't do it to get fit. I do it for the dance - for the emotional expression that comes through my body, for the music, for the movement and the sensuality.
What do you think about the stripper vs. pole fitness debate?
You know, it makes me sad. First of all, I don't think there should be a debate. Pole Dancing, pure and simple, came from strip clubs. It has had other influences, but it came from the clubs. So to somehow disown those roots for the sake of making pole acceptable to the mainstream leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It does a disservice to the women who started this movement: the strippers. And, even though there is a difference between what happens in a club and what happens in a studio, the attitude that ends up coming across when people get all hung up on the "fitness" aspect of it is that somehow, women who do it for any other reason, including strippers, are somehow "bad" or "less than". As pole dancers we have the opportunity to teach the public about the value of sensual movement and what it can do for women. But if we hide behind the argument that pole dancing is really great for fitness and that's it, then we are doing ourselves and many other women a huge disservice. There are plenty of other ways to get fit - if you are drawn to pole, then on some level, you are drawn to the sensuality or the naughtiness of it. So I wish that pole dancers would embrace their stripper roots and understand that what separates them from strip clubs is the performance environment and the intention. In a club, it's your job to cater to the clientele, to co-create a fantasy with them and get them into the lap dance room so you can make some money. In a studio or a performance situation, you are not any under any obligation to please anyone but yourself - which makes dancing sensually a very different experience and far more empowering and educational. Unless of course, you are competing. Then you need to please the judges and fulfill the requirements of the competition, based on your level. I think as long as women are trying to draw lines between who is "good" and "bad" we will always lose, collectively.
[Emphasis added by Lori...sorry...but I love that quote.]
How do you deal with the dry skin on pole days (and on off-pole days)?
Hmm. I don't have dry skin. On days where I am not poling - or after I pole- I use Pacifica body butter and it works like a dream. I also dry brush every morning and use an exfoliating glove with shower gel (no soap!).
Where do you like to buy your pole clothes?
I am a Bad Kitty Exotic Wear girl through and through!! I can get everything from workout clothes from their PoleFit line to sexy corsets to thongs to shoes. I love them!
Do you like to dance in heels or barefoot?
Heels! Heels all the way. 8 inch heels. With guns for stilettos. Look out!
What is your favorite thing about dancing on the pole?
The freedom and strength I feel while doing it. And how openly sexy I get to be.
What is your favorite song to dance to (at this moment)?
What else would you like people to know about you?
I'm very excited to announce that Movement Studio LA is hosting a book launch party and fundraiser for The Pole Story on October 14th. All proceeds go to benefit The Young Survivor Coalition.
Also: That I'm devoted to teaching women how to get in touch with their sensual, sexy side through pole work, floor work, chocolate and wine! I'm currently teaching an Awakening Your Inner Temptress Workshop at Movement Studio in LA. I have also taught this workshop at The International Pole Convention and the Midwest Pole Competition. It's great for beginners or anyone who wants to get into the sensual side of pole! I'm also super excited to announce that I'm Editor-in-Chief for Vertical Art and Fitness Magazine. And I love love love the Pole World!
Color photographs by George Grigorian
Black and white photographs by Gregory Beylerian
Please visit Claire's website, which will connect you to her social media sites!