Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pioneer of Pole: KT Coates of Vertical Dance!

When I first started at Twirly Girls, Bel used to tell us about this amazing pole dancer from the UK named KT Coates.  In fact, one of the moves we do on the pole is called the "KT Coates."  I am really excited to include KT in my blog today and am even more excited to (hopefully) meet her at the Pole Convention in June!

How did you first find pole dancing?

I got a job as a show girl in one of the oldest burlesque shows in the world at the Raymond Review Bar in Soho. I got the job with no experience in pole, dance or fitness and it was on the off chance that I even went to the audition. I then started practicing on the poles there and we incorporated it into my show. I didn’t have a clue at first but I was young and fearless so I just threw myself into it and taught myself how to pole dance. Back then there was no YouTube or classes so I just found something I loved and ran with it.

I understand you helped X-Pole develop its product in the UK in 2004.  How did you get involved with that?

I met Clive at an expo. I was performing and he and Paul had the first prototypes. We got chatting and got on really well. By this time I wanted to open my own school. There were exotic dance schools but I wanted to take the pole out of the clubs and put it in the gyms and I explained this to him. He lent me his prototypes to test out and use in my classes. At this time the poles were nothing like they are today so there were a huge amount of redesign in the first few months and it’s still being changed today. I will say the DVD that I did for the pole makes me cringe, I wish I could go back and re-film it. 

You opened Vertical Dance and released DVDs in 2006, which makes you a Pioneer of Pole.  What made you decide to open your own studio?

I was good at pole, it became a passion and I saw others opening sexy dance schools and I wanted to take it away from that, as I just don’t see pole that way and it doesn’t make me feel that way. Opening a school was a natural progression for me and the best and most satisfying, but also frustrating thing I have ever done. We were the first company to do so many things such as have videos on the site, online training, teacher training, world record, the first amateur competition and showcase. We have a world record, which is on my toilet wall. Things have changed so much and I am just so proud to be a part of it.

Which pioneers of pole do you admire?

There are so many people that have worked so hard over the last decade. We all have to thank Fawnia for being there at the start. I admire Mary Ellyn Weissman for promoting pole for the mature generation and raising health and safety standards. I think Bobbi from Bobbi's Studio has done so many great things for her style of pole. Ania from the IPDFA is one of the most diplomatic and profession people in pole, her competitions are fantastic. I admire every one that does pole, they are a pioneered in their own right, because without them it wouldn’t be here today! 

Do you have a trick that you consider your nemesis?

Anything with flexibility. I can barely touch my toes and my back is like a board, I can only forward fold. lol 

It feels like the pro/competition pole dancers are all going the route of contortion and extreme tricks.  Do you feel like something is lost from pole dancing when it is all tricks and no dance?

I not a fan of contortion, it’s not attractive. It’s not flowing and it’s not impressive. The best pole dancers are the ones that have the right amount of flow, flexibility, power, strength, musicality and dance ability. I call contortion type of dancers the ta-da performers, it’s very much like Chinese pole, you pull a move hold it for the applause, I do not find this easy on the eye at all. If a dancer spends his/her entire routine inverted on the pole busting trick after trick I am not impressed and I would mark this type of routine down. I think performers are growing and this will be a thing of the past. 

How do you feel about pole dancing going mainstream?

I have been very vocal about pole going mainstream and I do not see a future without it. If we want pole to carry on for generations to come then we need to make it professional, regulated and safe. Once this is done then we can open classes to children and then pole will be as acceptable as gymnastic. 

Tell us something we'd be surprised to hear about you.

I do not and never have owned X-Pole...Not sure why people think I do...LOL! 

What else are you looking forward to in 2012? 

We are looking forward to the IPSF World Pole Sports Championships in London which we are creating. It will be our first step to the Olympics and it is something that so many people have worked hard on and a dream that I cannot believe is actually becoming reality. I also cannot wait for to get over to the USA this year. I am in Chicago in May, at the LA Pole Convention in June and Vegas in September and NYC in October. I am also bring out a new DVD and an insurance package.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pole Show LA Interviews and Performance Videos

In January, Lorita Productions attended Pole Show LA on behalf of The Pole Dancing Shop.  I wanted to post interview and performance videos in one place, so here we go!

The show started with “The Honey Fall Girls”, which was choreographed by Leigh Ann Reilly (owner of BeSpun) and included five BeSpun dancers: Andrewa Britz, Kate Chanthanakaew, Emma Danoff, Yvonne Huffman-Lutz and Cash Roses.  Their costumes, designed by Kelly Maglia, were adorable.  They also featured Glitter Heels, which are made by BeSpun instructor, Tiffany Hayden.

Ariel Jacobs:

The first headliner was Prana, who is from Paris, France.  She has been pole dancing since 2008 and teaches at Pole Dance Paris.  Her routine was very wild cat-like.  She is so strong and beautiful to watch.

Interview with Prana:

Alice Hodge:

Unfortunately, this video was blocked due to copyright issues with the song.

BeSpun’s manager, Amy Guion was next in a piece called “A Long time ago, in a desert far, far away.”  It started with contortionist Fiona Luna and Amy’s partner David Garcia.  The pole portion was set to the Christina Aguilera song, Genie in a Bottle.  It was a really cute routine and really showcased Amy’s flexibility.

Interview with Amy Guion:

Lena Lockerby:

Zoraya Judd was the second headliner.  If you have not seen Zoraya perform, you really need to watch her.  She is an outstanding performer.  From her hair and make-up to her routine.  She took it to the next level when her husband Nic joined her on stage to hand over a python snake.  She finished her routine on the pole with a snake wrapped around her neck.

D'Lorian "Bad Azz" Fox:

Interview with Bad Azz:

The next piece was called Gemini 3000 and included BeSpun dancers Sergia Louise Anderson, Tami Brandel, Jennifer Jim and Lacy McGarry.  One of the highlights was when all four performers were spinning on one pole.

Interview with Jennifer Kim:

Becca Armijo:

Flying Laura Martin absolutely rocked the show.  She pulled out an amazing and completely unexpected hip hop routine with backup dancers, Marta Karwowska and Isabella Konald.  Flying Laura is another performer that you must see in person if you can.  She is such a powerhouse.

Jess Leah:

Leigh Ann Reilly was next with “In the Night.”  It included BeSpun dancers Alex Catalano, Pamela Morency and Angela Relucio.   Leigh Ann started the performance on a motorcycle and later rocked a shoulder stand on it.

Interview with Leigh Ann Reilly:

Estee Zakar started her performance in a really cool cat mask.  She is so strong and her routine was really fun to watch.  She does some kind of Iron-X round about that is hard to explain but amazing to watch.

Amber Richard:

Interview with Amber Richard:

Steven Retchless was next.  His routine was ballet-based and so beautiful. Sadly, the sound was still out, although it gave us an opportunity to enjoy his movement.

Interview with Steven Retchless:

Kelly Maglia:

The next routine, “Ligature”, was based on Amy Guion’s third-place 2011 California Pole Dance Championship routine.  It involved four dancers: Paula Cavajal, Christine Fields, Tracey Mueller and Lisa Wilhoit.  It included dominatrix inspired costumes and red ropes, from which the dancers could hang from the poles.

Breezelle Fox:

Natasha Wang based the character in her routine on a spider that conquers the pole.  Natasha is definitely the sweetheart of pole dancing and we always love watching her performances.  With the sound still not working properly, it did allow the crowd to truly take in her movements.

Interview with Natasha Wang:

Margarita Evans:

[need video]

“Wonderland” was an Alice-in-Wonderland inspire routine danced by Audra Bennett, Lindsey Kimura, Sienna Spalding and Adrienne Strauss.  Sienna also wrote and performed the music for the piece and created the art in the background.  It was a really fun routine.  Happily, the  speakers started working again about half way through their performance.

Interview with Lindsey X-Pole:

Interview with Sienna Spalding:

Interview with Adrienne Strauss:

Jennifer Strand:

Amber Kittle amazed us all by starting her routine on the ceiling in a 20-foot death lay.  Her performance was so fast and athletic.  She had some designs on her body highlighted with a black light, but you didn’t notice them because she moved so quickly.  This girl requires a sturdy pole that connects to the ceiling to do her impressive walk on the ceiling.  No wonder she was not able to compete in 2011′s California Pole Dance Championship on X-Stages!

Interview with Amber Kittle:

Tiffany Hayden:

Interview with Tiffany Hayden:

Karol Helms and Alethea Austin teamed up for “Education.”  Alethea was almost unrecognizable at first in a black wig.  Their school girl-themed doubles routine rocked the house and included backup dancers Andrea Britz, Ariel Jacobs, Valarie Miller, Lana Sales, Melissa Schrader and Jennifer Vigil.

Dana Davidson:

Jenyne Butterfly closed the show.  She is such a sweetheart and is always the crowd favorite.  She claimed earlier in the night that she had not been on the pole much in the previous two months, but you couldn’t tell by the performance she gave.  She has definitely earned the title of “Pole Queen!”

Bonus videos:

Nadia Sharif (recent winner of National Aerial Pole Artist Championship), who wasn't able to perform at Pole Show LA (she explains here):

Giggle Reel:

The End of Pole Show LA:

Pole Candy: Linna Tan from Bobbi's Pole Studio - Singapore

In my continued adventures to discover the history of pole dance studios around the world, I recently interviewed Bobbi and Ness of Bobbi's Pole Studio Australia.  They have studios located in Singapore and Malaysia.  We also met Maple from Bobbi'sPole Studio Malaysia.  Today we meet Linna of Bobbi's Pole StudioSingapore.

Do you have a non-pole dance background?

I started as a salsa dancer and instructor before I discovered pole.

When did you first start pole dancing?

I discovered pole about 7 years ago but I will say that I really started pole dancing when I met Bobbi which is about 4 years ago.

What brought you to Australia to train with Bobbi's Pole Studio?

When I started watching pole dance YouTube videos, the only person I could not take my eyes off was Bobbi and Bobbi's teachers.  So naturally, when I wanted to pole-dance like the best in the world, I traveled to train with the best in the world :)

When did you open Bobbi's Pole Studio in Singapore?

March 2010

Do you participate in competitions?  Do you have any titles?

No, I don't participate in competitions because most of the them, I'm organizing them.

What kind of fitness routine do you follow on and off the pole?

Pole-dancing is my fitness routine, it encompasses everything from weight training to cardio, what more do I need? :)

Do you prefer to dance barefoot or in shoes?

Definitely in heels!

What do you use to help you stick to the pole?

Shaving gel and Dry Hands

What trick is your nemesis?

Hmm.. So many... Probably Ayesha with body away from the pole, fell once and could not get over my fear since then..

Tell us something people would be surprised to hear?

Oh dear.. I'm quite boring & typical.. Mmm..  I used to be a Wedding Planner before I became a dance instructor?  I used to plan the Hen's Parties, now I host them :)

What does 2012 hold for you?

Organising the first-ever Miss Pole Dance Southeast Asia 2012!  We also have many other exciting events lined up for the year so looking forward to a very fruitful and exciting year for Bobbi's Singapore :)

Thank you so much for being part of my blog.  If you ever make it to the states, please let me know.  And if I make it to Singapore, I will definitely come find you.  :-)  I would love to meet!

Thanks so much for the opportunity to be part of your blog, Lori.  If I ever make it to your part of the world, I will most definitely look you up and please make sure you do the same :)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Catch up with other Bobbi's girls below!

Cleo The Hurricane

Jedda Jordan

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Depression and the Viking Warrior

I suffer from depression.  There, I said it.  It's not something I wear on a shirt.  But I realize a lot more people deal with depression than one would think.  I used to see commercials about depression talking about how if you can't get out of bed, you might be suffering from depression.  I get out of bed every day.  In fact, I could probably use some more time *in* bed.  So I couldn't possibly be suffering from depression.  Oh, except that I do definitely deal with depression.

Rob and I had just moved in together, which caused me a lot of stress (I've lived roommate-free for probably ten years, so sharing space was hard for me).  My friend's daughter had been killed in a horrific accident.  I took a break from Twirly Girls (bad, bad idea for a social person who is depressed to take a break from being social).  A month or so later, I decided to try anti-depressants for my third time.  

The first two tries went fairly well.  Lexapro made my brain "happy" but I gained weight on it (hence, my need to lose 22 pounds about four years ago).  I did stay on it for at least a year before I decided the weight issue was too much to handle.  Plus, I was just tired of being "medicated."  I tried medication again before I met Rob in 2009.  This time, I tried a different medication -- Wellbutrin.  It made me sweat worse than I normally do, so I went off it pretty quickly.  In 2010, I tried Effexor.  I didn't gain weight on it, and I didn't sweat as much as with the Wellbutrin.  I mean, I have gained weight but it's not from the medication.  It's from continuing to stress out -- I eat my feelings. 

Anyway, I've been on Effexor for almost a year and a half.  I decided a couple of months ago that I was tired of being medicated.  And so I recently stepped down off the medication.  There are studies that suggest that, for some, anti-depressants only work for 9 months to a year.  So I figured that it was time to try living without medication again.  I'm about four weeks into being fully medication-free.  And I'm bummed to report that I'm finding myself getting irritated and frustrated a lot faster than I used to.  I really don't want to be reliant on medication, so I am working to get through that (I mean, I should be able to deal with a small amount of irritation without Hulking out).  But I have definitely noticed a difference in my stupidity tolerance level.

This week has been a little emotional.  My friend's granny passed away February 13, 2007.  A couple of days ago, Rob found a tiny spoon in his pocket.  Gran had given me the spoon after gastric bypass in 2004 because that's all I would be able to eat.  It was really sweet.  Rob has no idea how it got into his pants pocket.  He hasn't even worn those pants since he stopped working last September, and he would have no need to put a tiny spoon in his work pants anyway (although I joked, in poor taste, that maybe he took it for his tiny heroin habit, since he worked at a methadone clinic).  I joked that Gran was playing a trick on us.  We later found out that my friend's three year old son, Mason, who was born on the anniversary of Gran's death, and is her great-grandson, has been having trouble sleeping because people are "talking" to him.  I figure it must be her!  :-)  I also found out that my friends (who are sisters) just booked a trip to England to meet their granny's family.  Maybe coincidence.  Maybe not.  Maybe Gran just wanted to say hi.  Either way, it brings back a lot of good memories and sadness for a lady who was really sweet to me.

We are also coming up on the anniversary of the death of my sister's friend, Tyler.  I didn't know him *that* well but it was a young life gone way too soon under suspicious circumstances.  It makes me sad and I still see the posts on his memory page on Facebook.  He is missed by so many people.

My brother got married last night.  He and his wife are just good people -- the best couple I've ever met in my life.  I normally don't get emotional at weddings but I did get a little teary when Melissa came down the aisle.  I have always been kind of "meh" about marriage but seeing two people who truly do make relationships look easy, is making me wonder if I need to soften my view of marriage.  I also had a hard time seeing my own grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer's.  She's in that stage where she's forgetting things and people but she's very aware that something's wrong and it gives her anxiety.  She was always such a pillar of strength in my life and it is so hard to see her so frail and sad.  So another emotional day...and no drugs to "even me out."

Rob and I recently heard another commercial...this one saying how this girl didn't realize that depression could lead to suicide.  We thought it was a dumb commercial..."happy" people don't kill themselves, right?!  So, of course depression can lead to suicide.  However, not everyone might be as aware of it as I am.  My Auntie Lori killed herself three years ago -- in a horrific manner.  The anniversary of her death was a little over a week ago.  She wasn't my real aunt -- but my mom's best friend and the person after whom I was named.  She dealt with major depression, anxiety and suffered from anorexia.  She was troubled for my entire life.  I remember when she first passed, I first felt relief.  Relief that her mind was finally at peace.  Now I just miss her.  Maybe the anniversary is what is setting off this feeling now.  Or maybe some days, it's just harder to face the world than others. 

My point of talking about this is not to get sympathy.  I wrote this today because writing is my outlet.  Every single person has their own issues to deal with.  Some people are just better equipped to deal than others.  I don't know if I was born with a brain that can't deal as well, or if I just grew up in a way that didn't give me great coping skills.  Nature versus nurture.  Maybe its both.  It doesn't matter.  The end result is that I do deal with a crazy brain sometimes.  And I hope that if you have someone in your life that struggles, you will be understanding of their problems.  Or, if you are someone who has a hard time coping, I hope you will ask for help before you go to extreme measures.

This post is dedicated to my Auntie Lori.  I'm sorry you felt that was your only way out.  I miss you and love you.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pole Etak's Quest For A Pole Venue in San Francisco!

You are known as Pole Étak on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook...  Do you have an actual studio location?
I call myself "Pole Étak" for a couple reasons, the main one being a type of branding that's in line with my other creative endeavors: Étak Productions which is my film making business and Club Étak which is the name of this upcoming venue (It's pronounced "Attack" and is "Kate" backwards, in case anyone didn't catch that). The other reason the name "Pole Étak" exists is to connect my students that I have privately at my in-home studio and my students from the Crunch gyms in the Bay Area. I don't have a "proper" studio yet, but the intended day use of Club Étak will be to act as my new legit studio (the awkward moment of inviting strangers into my apartment is nearing an end).
You are trying to get a pole-friendly performance venue in the San Francisco area (I live near SF and am 100% supporting you).  Here is the Kick Starter link, but also tell us in your own words about the venture and what you hope to accomplish.

I've been trying to condense the multitude of beautiful reasons why San Francisco should house a pole performance venue, and I think I've narrowed it down to this: The stigma we as pole dancers encounter every day is at times tolerable, but also at times tiring and endless. How are we to show the public our incredible art form when all we have are the bright neon lights of Broadway's topless venues jading their opinions, and the exclusivity of private pole studios unintentionally shying away the average interested patron? If we have a dedicated venue where we can expose the public to pole dancing as we know it, then we will certainly empower our path to a more objectively valued and respectable community, rather than just subjective.
Oh, and it's just going to be incredibly kick-ass...

Do you already have a venue/location in mind?
There's a couple spaces I'm eyeing - but the main goal is to find a space near to BART/CalTrain so it will be easily accessible by all of the Bay Area. My students aren't just here in the City, so I know they would appreciate easy access (and of course those hailing from the East Bay would like that too!)

Which other local pole celebrities or studio owners have teamed up with you for this project?
Besides you my dear Lori?! Unfortunately no one has committed to teaming up with me at the moment. I've had interest from a few studios in the East Bay, but no interest (yet) from the ones currently operating in San Francisco and the South Bay. I'm hoping that my feature in this blog may persuade them that this is a legitimate venture and that I want to team up with literally everyone I can. I love networking and I LOVE pole dancing so I hope this one space can eventually bring us all together.
 What is your pole dancing background?  (What brought you to pole and how long have you been poling?)
I was a receptionist for Crunch Fitness for many years and really was not the epitome of health for the longest time (University habits got the best of me and stuck). So when they installed the poles upstairs at the Chestnut St. location 2 years ago, I almost was dared to go up and try. I was quite grumpy about it and thought everyone was pretty skanky, but then I had the "moment." I think it was when I did the pretzel spin pretty quickly and nobody else got it, and my instructor complimented me up the wazzoo. I had never been complimented like that, let alone for something athletic (which I never was). The mere dose of instant confidence in my body as a temple (which I previously thought of as a temple's dumpster) encouraged me to practice like crazy. Soon I started subbing classes for Crunch, and last year became a certified X-Pert Pole Instructor (HIGHLY recommend that, by the way). Now I am the regular instructor for Crunch Chestnut & San Mateo and nothing makes me feel more joy than finding girls like me who are starting from scratch and complimenting them just like my first instructor did for me. All about positive reinforcement, in my book. 

Have you participated in any competitions?
I have not. Eventually one day I'd like to, but I'm very realistic about my body and my current limits. One has to be in that competitive mind-set in order to push their bodies to greatness, and right now my mind is more set along the lines of playing host to those people who really are interested in going the step above what they thought they could do.

It feels like the pro/competition pole dancers are all going the route of contortion and extreme tricks.  Do you feel like something is lost from pole dancing when it is all tricks and no dance?
I think about this a ton actually...but in a way I don't feel comfortable criticizing the way someone wants to perform, whether to impress or to inspire. What I can say is what I feel myself - and I do know that when I'm focused on trying to mimic the Pole Stars' Extreme Tricks I become instantly miserable as a human being. It's frustrating, and I lose that confidence I once gained. The beauty of incorporating "dance" with the pole is that you can have an amazing outlet for all sorts of emotions. It doesn't matter if I dance well or if my split isn't flat or if my "lines are gorgeous" or anything like that - what matters is what is portrayed to the audience and what is felt in myself as a performer. I go at my own pace, and would prefer it if everyone did as well. It's nice to have different tiers and sectors and genres of pole dancing, though, so there is always something to aspire to. To each, her own.
 Tell us something that people would be surprised to hear about you?
People tend to be surprised by the multitude of things I participate in. I'm really all over the place and it confuses the average friend of mine. I have a habit of learning as many things in this life that I can, but never mastering them. Examples: I can read and write Arabic, speak French, write and produce short films, paint with India Ink, play guitar and piano and sing, and do triathlons and running races - but I've never mastered any of these subjects. I call myself the Jane of All Trades, Master of Some. I find it makes the life way more enriched, and it really tends to confuse and surprise anyone that meets me.

Besides this awesome project, what else does 2012 hold for you?

2012 is really revolving around this project, but the second biggest thing I'm looking forward to is participating in the Olympic Distance London Triathlon in September. I still don't understand how I'm going to ship my bike over to England, let alone myself...

I really understand the need for venues that are pole-friendly and hope that everyone will support Kate in her quest (or maybe you can start one for your area!).  Please join Pole Étak on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.

Ummmm....I'm a Pole ARTIST

Continuing with the pole dancer versus stripper debate...  Get caught up here:

A couple of weeks ago, Twirly Girls were part of a local radio show's live event [].  Going into the event, I knew the "stripper thing" was going to come up.  The general public associates pole dancing with stripping.  As we know, one can mean the other.  But it doesn't have to.  I warned the girls that the topic would most likely come up.  I figured it would be mostly in good fun since Sarah and Vinnie have an entertainment show to put on.  It did come up and the S&V show felt like one of our girls in particular was a little bitter in her response.  I didn't think she actually came across bitter or mad, but I know her and they don't, so maybe that's why the disconnect happened.  Either way...on the radio a day or two later, they made the point that we are all swinging on a stripper pole, so we shouldn't be that shocked when the subject came up.  

In my mind, they are right.

Are you a stripper?  A pole dancer?  A pole fitness enthusiast?  A pole artist?  There are many names for what we do.  And there's nothing wrong with being any one of those things, or all of them.  But when someone says to you, "oh you pole dance?!"  Are you the first to say, "but I'm not a stripper!"?

Now this is where I get stuck.  If someone comes at me with the whole, "oooh, so you're a stripper, right?" thing, I usually respond with, "If I had a nicer body and a little more rhythm, I'd definitely consider it!"  But I also grew up in a religious home where acting out and being a little naughty held some appeal.  I've also spent many years learning how to ignore those who tried to make me feel bad about myself or guilty for things that I do.  I sometimes forget not everyone has had that kind of life training. 

I don't want to disconnect from my pole community either.  If it is offensive to some to be called a stripper, am I belittling them by telling them to get over it?  On the other hand, do we owe it to the "pole fitness" community to explain to the general public that there is a bit of a difference between stripping for dollars and taking classes at a pole fitness studio?  Granted, I like working out and feeling stronger but I really enjoy putting on "stripper heels" and cute clothes too.  

In my mind, I say, take me or leave me...I owe you no explanation for anything I do or say.  However, I feel like some of my pole sisters may feel like I am not hearing them or taking their feelings into account. 

At the end of the day, regardless of the words we use to describe what we do, we're still doing it -- swinging around a pole.  And, it's like some of us are almost waiting for the fight...waiting for that outsider to bring up pole dancing, daring them to call us a stripper, so we can attack and explain that we are pole artistes!  We should not be ashamed of what we do.  I feel like if we make excuses and try to distance ourselves from stripping, it almost becomes, "we doth protest too much..."   

It seems like a lot of the negativity and disharmony comes from WITHIN our own pole dancing community. Some spend so much time debating the words we should use to describe what we do -- and even more time judging other dancers in the industry.  I think we need to first band together, then we can worry about what the outsiders think.

At the end of the day, a person who will judge you for pole dancing, doesn't care if you're a stripper or not.  They will judge you the same.  So why not hold your head high and proudly proclaim:  YES, I AM A POLE DANCER [or insert your favorite term here]!  That's what I plan to do. 

Project 365: Days 223-253

Day 223
Monday, January 23

Day 224
Tuesday, January 24

Day 225
Wednesday, January 25

Off to LA

Day 226
Thursday, January 26

Bumble Bee on Hollywood Boulevard

Day 227
Friday, January 27

Natasha Wang!

Day 228
Saturday, January 28

Jenyne Butterfly

Day 229
Sunday, January 29

Day 230
Monday, January 30

Day 231
Tuesday, January 31

It's Diana on a shirt!

Day 232
Wednesday, February 1

Day 233
Thursday, February 2

Day 234
Friday, February 3

Day 235
Saturday, February 4

Day 236
Sunday, February 5

Day 237
Monday, February 6

Day 238
Tuesday, February 7

Day 239
Wednesday, February 8

Day 240
Thursday, February 9

Day 241
Friday, February 10

Day 242
Saturday, February 11

Day 243
Sunday, February 12

Day 244
Monday, February 13

Day 245
Tuesday, February 14

Day 246
Wednesday, February 15

Day 247
Thursday, February 16

Day 248
Friday, February 17

Day 249
Saturday, February 18

Day 250
Sunday, February 19

Day 251
Monday, February 20

Day 252
Tuesday, February 21

Day 253
Wednesday, February 22

Draw bridge UP

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Prana: Celebrating Black History Month and Pole Dance

Prana's story: I started Pole Dancing after my 15 years of Rhythmic Gymnastic. I found in this discipline a way to use my RG past and mainly my way to give all of myself. But especially my favorite thing is to share and give that I know: I LOVE TO TEACH!!!

Confessions of a Twirly Girl Turns Two!

Happy bloggerversary to me.  A little over two years ago, I wrote my very first blog.  Ever.  Confessions of a Twirly Girl has given me an amazing outlet.  Enter the Twirling Viking Warrior.  Also known as lolorashel.  And a monster was born.  :-)

Here's my very first post from January 29, 2010:

Here's my first anniversary post:

I am now up to 73 "followers" on Blogger.  However, I have 2,000 Facebook friends and over 1,200 followers on Twitter.  I am on tumblr and pinterest.  Between all of the cross-posts, I have had over 60,000 hits on my blog.  I average 300 hits per day.  I apparently also have Klout (today my score was up to 62...whatever that actually means).  I am writing for Twirly Girls and a couple of other shall-remain-unnamed studios.  I am also writing for The Pole Dancing Shop.  I have written various guest blogs for other websites.  I am working with Social Sonar and I am their main blogger on social media topics.  I will soon have published articles in Vertical Art and Fitness Magazine

I swore that I was going to brand myself, and it certainly seems to be happening.  Projects for other companies have morphed into starting Lorita Productions so that Rita, Andrew and I (GO TEAM HONEY BADGER) can work as a team to produce videos and photos for the pole community. 

I am not only blogging about pole dancing but I am now teaching two classes at week at Twirly Girls.  I still have my day job, but I am otherwise immersed in pole.  I have met some really awesome people and have checked out some fun studios and events.  I feel very lucky to have the opportunities being presented to me now.  And I owe it all to Bel, Twirly Girls and this blog. 

I have learned a lot in the last two years.  About pole dancing.  About people.  About blogging in general.  Although its very exciting to have a blog that receives 200-600 hits per day...writing provides me with a much-needed outlet, which I would still receive if no one was reading anything I wrote.  However, it is so satisfying to meet people at events or receive e-mails from people who hear my voice and feel their own story is being told as well.  It is fun to talk to pole-celebrities, but I am very much interested in the everyday pole dancers who are like me. 

So thank you to everyone who has made my blog a success.  I look forward to some traveling so I can meet even more pole friends.  Please let me know where you are so I can add you to my map of planned pole travels!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pole Dancing with Kelly Maglia

I recently saw Kelly Maglia perform at Pole Show LA.  I knew she designed awesome performance costumes, but was not aware that she was also a pole dancer!  Not just a pole sister but a curvy pole sister!  She and I exchanged some e-mails and she wrote a great I wanted to include part of her e-mail to me here...and then I asked her a few follow-up questions.  This is Kelly Maglia! 

... yes, being curvy has presented some challenges, but I decided early on that I was not going to let it be a problem! I've always been overweight, and yet I was a gymnast as a kid, and then a ballet dancer in college. I always figured I would just have to be that much stronger than the other girls to lift my body weight. Which in my head was no big deal. It's like lifting weights at the gym. Ok, so a 110 pound girl has less to lift than me. So what? It just means I have to be stronger - and isn't that cool? It became a little game I played with myself! All that is to say that ANYTHING is possible with enough desire and belief. I know for sure that curvy-ness need not be a limitation. And isn't it nice to show the skinny girls what's up? :) :) 

I'm going on and on about this because it's a subject that's near and dear to my heart - and I think to a lot of women! I went through college with an eating disorder because I didn't look like the skinny ballerinas I was training with. I knew that even though I was good at ballet, I would never be hired as a dancer looking the way I did. So, I gave up dance for over a decade. 

And then I took my first pole dance class! Ah, the freedom! Suddenly, curvy-ness was OK - and in some cases, even desired! I was accepted for who I was, and it was like having a first sip of water after years wandering in the desert. I was hooked on pole - not only because if the grace and athleticism it required of me - but because I could actually be ME. 

Now don't me wrong: I still have fantasies of being a skinny girl! But I'm wise enough now to know that hating myself won't get me there. Neither will too strict of a diet or doing cardio till I puke! I decided that I was going to be gentle with myself no matter what - and interestingly enough, in the 3 years since I've been pole dancing, I've very slowly lost weight. It appears to be continuing - I've gone from a size 16 to a 12 in 3 years, and now, even my size 12 jeans are too big! It's nice to feel lighter and leaner - even though extra weight does not hinder me on the pole one bit. It's even nicer to know that I haven't lost weight because I hated myself. It has happened naturally because I was so IN LOVE with what I was doing on the pole. :) 

I first saw Kelly Maglia Couture during the California Pole Dance Championship last year.  Were you a clothing designer or pole dancer first? 

I've been a costume designer for the last 10 years. I began designing custom costumes for "regular" dancers. This developed into a catalog collection, Triple Threat Dancewear, that I still run with my sister. Finally, once I discovered that there was a viable market for "pole couture", I launched Kelly Maglia Couture. Since then, I've been lucky enough to have my costumes featured on "So You Think You Can Dance", as well as in Dance, Dance Teacher, Dance Spirit, and Vertical Art & Fitness magazines.
When did you decide to start making costumes for pole dance performances?

Once I started pole dancing, I saw there was a real need for costumes designed specifically for the competition-based or performance-oriented pole dancer. Most of what was available was either workout wear, or exotic dance costumes designed to be revealing - and ultimately removed. This didn't work for the new breed of pole dancer who still needed to show a lot of skin (for grip purposes) but who also needed something tasteful, beautiful, and inspiring to dance in. It was very easy to translate what I'd done for years with Triple Threat into costumes for pole dancers. The biggest challenge was actually to make my designs a little sexier! The typical Triple Threat Dancewear client is a teenage jazz dancer, for whom I need to keep my designs relatively modest. But designing for adult women who want a sexy-but-tasteful design has been really fun! 

I understand you also run Kelly Maglia Vertical Theatre.  Tell us about that (especially when we can come see the next performance)!

Vertical Theatre is my baby - and is a truly hybrid genre. I like to say "bordello meets Broadway, circus meets rock concert, pole meets stage play." I was a musical theatre performer and rock singer in my late teens/early 20s, but I walked away from all that to focus on play/screenwriting as well as costuming. But eventually, the daily pressures of running my business simply took over and I didn't have time to pursue a writing career. But when I started pole dancing, I immediately saw a way to unite all of my various artistic pursuits. It was the like the pole was a linchpin - and catalyst - to a new vision of music theatre. I realized that the pole could represent so many things, both literal and figurative - the mast of a ship, a tree, or simply a woman's sensual awakening. I wanted to create a new genre of music theatre that was inspired by Cirque du Soleil (but with a nearly exclusive focus on POLE rather than other the aerial apparatus), 80s hard rock, and the classic musicals I grew up on.

Although I'm currently writing a full-length rock operetta, the next Vertical Theatre show will actually be a "rock and pole" cabaret. It's called "Once Upon a Pole" and it will utilize the various fairy tales we know and love to explore the pleasures and pitfalls of modern romance. I'm really excited to add men to my cast this time around, and I will be holding auditions soon. I'm primarily casting pole dancers, but I will also be looking for aerialists, hand balancers, contortionists, etc. The show will feature a live band and we're looking to open in May. And of course, I will design all the costumes!

My last show, "Catalyst" premiered at the El Portal in July 2011. Here's a recap: 

I saw you perform recently at BeSpun for Pole Show LA 2012.  Do you enjoy performing?

I do enjoy performing - but don't ask me if I do on the day of! Most of the time, I'm pacing around back stage wondering why I agreed to do this. :) I still get really nervous, and I have to talk myself off the ledge sometimes! But once I get onstage, I feel like I belong there.
 How long have you been pole dancing?
3 1/2 years.

What first drew you to try it?

I initially was drawn to pole dancing because of its combo sensuality and athleticism. I'll never forget the moment I decided to become a pole dancer. I was at a friend's birthday party at Jumbo's Clown Room. And suddenly this woman took the stage, flew around the pole in some amazing way and then ended up hanging by her ankle! She was so strong AND sexy - which is what I wanted to be. I signed up for classes the very next week.

Do you have your own studio?  If not, where do you dance? 

I do not own my own studio. I currently train at BeSpun and Cirque School LA, but I have been to pretty much every pole studio in Los Angeles. I spent a lot of time at X-Polesitions before they closed. I find that studying with many different teachers is the best way for me to learn new things, as each person will have a different style and will teach you in a slightly different way.

What else do you do to keep your body in shape to pole?

I cross-train in ballet, contortion, hand-balancing, and I've recently added hiking and strength-based conditioning to my regimen. Needless to say, I'm a little busy. :)

How do you feel like pole has improved or changed your life?

Words cannot even begin to express how pole dance has changed my life. I can only describe it as bringing me back home to myself. It feels to me that Vertical Theatre is what I was born to do. For a long time, I felt like I was wandering - dabbling in dance or music or creative writing. And then Vertical Theatre appeared on the horizon like a lighthouse. And I was home.

Tell us one thing about you that people might be surprised to hear.

I'm a super nerd! I was that girl who cried over getting an A-. I also won a British Marshall Scholarship (which is the equivalent of a Rhodes Scholarship, but you don't have to study at Oxford) to pursue theatre in London. I love to 18th and 19th century British literature, the French language, social science, animals, and astrophysics. If I weren't an artist, I think I would've been an astronomer or a zoologist!

What does 2012 hold for you?

A new costume collection, and of course "Once Upon a Pole" - which I hope to showcase in a variety of arenas, including the Hollywood Fringe Theatre Festival and the Sunset Strip Music Festival. That will take us up to the Fall, and then I really will have to finish my rock full-length operetta. That's the show I've been waiting to write my whole life...