It's actually a strange story about how I got into pole dancing. I'm going to attempt to make it short. I've tried various types of workout equipment, TV gimmicks, and gym memberships over the years in order to get in shape. Needless to say I never got the results I wanted. I could never stay interested in anything consistently enough to feel any effects. One piece of equipment that I used the longest was called a Fluidity Bar (Portable ballet bar that you can fold up and put under your bed). I really loved it but wasn't getting a challenging enough workout from it. So one day just out of the blue I had a strange thought in my head.
At that particular time, I wasn't even sure there was even any such thing. In my head, I could only conjure up images of people doing crazy flips and wild stunts on the parallel bars in the Olympics; which of course, someone as out of shape and scrawny as me, would never ever be able to learn to do; especially on my budget. But the Librarian in me likes to do research so I opened up a Google search engine and typed in 'Vertical Dance Bar'. The very first link at the top was www.verticaldance.com. I clicked on the website and the first thing I saw were photos of the world class instructor KT Coates in plain workout gear and leg warmers performing incredible feats of deft defying gravity! I was in awe. I scrolled down further and saw a huge heading that read, "What's the Difference?" and underneath were two photos side by side. One photo was someone doing gymnastics and the other photo was someone doing an aerial pole move. Underneath the photos was the subtitle, "None as far as we are concerned!!" And I couldn't have agreed with them more.
But I have to admit; at first I was highly intimidated. I thought, "Oh my God! She must be from a circus or be some kind of acrobat or something. I'll never be able to do that!" Thinking back it was only something simple like a butterfly but to people not knowing what in the world it is, it leaves you with your jaw dropping. Now I find it quite hysterical when people in the audience gasp and scream at the simplest things you can do in your sleep; excluding pole dancers. Nothing hardly impresses them anymore. haha But I digress...I had never seen pole dancing before and I was immediately struck with the athleticism, beauty, and skill of what I saw and as I continued to peruse the site I became more and more convinced that pole fitness was something that I had to at least try. And when I found that I could get a fully portable pole in my own apartment that was affordable, it sealed the deal.
What is your fitness background?
Other than trying to learn all the hottest and latest dance moves from music videos in front of my dresser drawer mirror in my youth and practicing yoga and Pilates at home on occasion, I’m never had any prior formal dance classes before pole dancing and unfortunately I was never good at any form of sports. I grew up in the sticks of North Carolina so there weren’t that many options I had available to me in an area that rural. I always wanted to get into diving and gymnastics but my school did not offer either of those extracurricular programs.
I wish I could say that I did.
What kind of diet do you follow?
There are different sides and emotions that make up The Jungle Cat.
There is The Kitten. Kitten is the child-like and playful side of me. He's the jokester of the bunch. So he prefers silly funny songs and does comedy routines. Then there is Siamese. Siamese comes out on the rare occasions when I'm actually concerned about being very critical and technical about how I look. Siamese focuses very heavenly on pointed toes and full extensions. He likes slow and fluid type pieces such as performances to classical music. There's Lap Cat. Lap Cat is my softer, sensitive side. He's the old school hopeless romantic of the bunch. He likes love songs and soft sappy ballads. Opposite him is The Bengal Tiger. Bengal Tiger goes hard, rough, and exciting with dangerous and often very painful tricks. Cheetah goes fast and furious with quick tricks, transitions, and very fast spins. Jaguar is the sensual one of the gang. He doesn't come out that much because he's a little shy, but starting to explore him more and more. The most dominant one is The Lion. The Lion is the spiritual one. He’s the king of the jungle. With a quiet reserve and wisdom beyond his years, he keeps all the others in check. All of these pieces together make up the Jungle Cat.
Where do you train? Do you have your own pole studio?
I’m affiliated with Pole Pressure of Washington, DC in the United States. Jessalynn Mediary is the owner of the studio. She is a world renowned master pole instructor and performer, and she is solely responsible for putting together the largest and most popular annual pole event, the International Exotic Dance and Pole Fitness Convention.
Do you have sponsors you'd like to acknowledge?
What is your favorite product to help you stick to the pole?
What is your favorite song to dance to (at this moment)?
Very interesting question! Right now I’m actually in love with Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” (Moto Blanco Club Remix). The bass beat just drives me to shake my booty! I’m pretty sure I’ll be posting a YouTube video of me grooving to it on the pole very soon! HAHA
Do you have any other upcoming events/competitions you'd like people to know about?
At this time the only things I’m aware of that I will be participating in is the Miss/Mr. Pole Pressure Competition, the DMV Tri-State Competition, the National Aerial Pole Championships 2012, and I’ve also been invited to do another solo performance at the International Exotic Dance and Pole Fitness Convention 2012.
What else would you like people to know about you and/or your studio?
Pole dance to me is art. Gospel and spiritual music also to me is art. So it only felt natural for me to put the two together but I can understand how it is perceived as controversial. As far as pole dancing goes for me personally, I would love to be an entertainer but unfortunately I don't know how to purposely entertain; if that makes any sense. You see, good entertainers actually study the art of entertaining and work to actually perfect that craft. Be it painting, singing, acting, dancing, or what have you. I study pole dance and I do extensive research about the best stretching techniques or what not, but I can't honestly say I work on the craft of entertaining. I just do it because it's fun, it's some kind of exercise that gets results, it helps me to relieve stress, and express emotions. So no I don't always point my toes, and I don't always follow through with my body extensions. I don't shop around for fancy costumes and now how to put on elaborate face paint. I'd like to one day. I think it would be fun. But I don't really have a creative eye for putting together clothes and things like that. Maybe someone will offer to help me one day because I could use it! HAHA But if not then that's okay too.