My friend and teacher, Jenyne Butterfly. Beauty, grace, elegance and strength. T
My friend and teacher, Jenyne Butterfly. Beauty, grace, elegance and strength. T
And the most important reason to study at Heart & Pole...
10. The best teachers who have the great sense of humor! (we think laughter is important too!)
You left last night before I could hug you and thank you for such a great class. You made something kind of scary feel safe and easy and I didn't mind sucking at moves the first time around! Taking a class with women half my age was intimidating at first but it seemed that they accepted me, and I didn't make a fool of myself. I wasn't sure I could do this, but I found I did and then I loved it! The pole did change me. I started wearing my hair differently and loved what the pole did for my body (along with a diet) and it brings out a different side of me. I think you are a great teacher. You break down moves into doable pieces and constantly think of creative visions (the panda bear) to help people imagine what you have to do with your body. So thank you, thank you!!!!
Wearing a gauzy blue two-piece costume that resembles a circus acrobat's uniform, Laura Martin climbs up an 11-foot steel pole in a move popularly called the "Caterpillar Crawl."
Aggressive and athletic yet fluid and hyper-flexible, she proceeds to blaze through a pole-dancing routine of inverted suspensions, spins and slides.
Hoots and whistles from the female-dominated crowd compete with the live music provided by the rock band Avowed. One woman screams to a friend, "It's just like trapeze!"
Martin, a former exotic dancer, appreciates the comparison of what she does to something other than adult entertainment.
"I want to see pole dancing get away from the stripper connotation," says the 30-year-old San Diego-based performer and personal fitness instructor. "I want people to see it's like any other dance form."
The weekly showcase at Club Good Hurt in West Los Angeles represents the latest evolution in pole dancing's migration from the strip club to the fitness class to the mainstream performance venue. It features Southern California pole dancers performing to live rock music in a setting where, according to show producer Emilee Wilson, there's "no tipping and no stripping."
While pole dancing has been gaining acceptance in recent years as a form of physical fitness -- classes are offered in gyms and dance studios across the country -- there have been few performance opportunities outside of exotic dance clubs for dancers who spend years perfecting their skills and seek professional, artistic recognition.
Though the fact that the dance poles are easily portable and installable on a variety of surfaces point to a range of performance possibilities, Wilson and others say the opposite is true.
"There's just not a lot out there right now so that people can see pole dancing as a serious dance form," says Leigh Acosta, a 30-year-old pole dance instructor, aerial artist and recent performer at the showcase. "I think a lot of people still see it as something scandalous, the way people thought burlesque was scandalous, or belly dancing."
That may change, however, considering that Cirque du Soleil hired a champion pole dancer in January to perform in its Las Vegas-based "Zumanity," and pole-dance competitions judged by dancers and choreographers have sprung up all over the world.
The year-old New York City-based US Pole Dance Federation, for example, plans to sponsor annual competitions and pledges on its website to promote pole dancing as a "sensual and athletic art form."
Locally, there's Wilson's effort to produce an "acrobatic pole show for women who want to perform but not in a strip club.
"What I'm doing is offering women a safe space where they get respect," says Wilson, a 27-year-old actress and pole dancer who used to perform at Jumbo's Clown Room, a Hollywood bikini bar. "Most of the women I met at Jumbo's were really artistic, and none of them had implants. They were there because they really wanted to perform, and performers need an audience."
About 100 people -- with a roughly 3-2 female-male ratio -- packed the red-paneled bar and checkered dance floor area on a recent Monday to watch a lineup of performers that included Acosta, Nicole Williams, a popular local pole-dance instructor, and Mina Mortezaie, whose forte seems to be perfectly executed vertical and inverted split maneuvers.
Mortezaie, 26, trained in gymnastics, modern dance, jazz, ballet and hip-hop before discovering pole dance. "I got addicted to it immediately because it combines everything I've been obsessed with: strength, flexibility, grace."
Though she considered working at strip clubs, Mortezaie has created her own performance opportunities, which have included staging "pole nights" at the Culver City restaurant and bar Rush Street and forming her own burlesque dance troupe that incorporates the pole in its repertoire.
"I didn't want to dance for men in clubs," she says. "I wanted to dance for myself."
For her performance, Mortezaie wore a tiny pink-and-black bikini and sported thigh-high shiny black boots. All of the performers wore bathing-suit-type costumes, a necessity, they say, since bare skin allows them to perform moves that require gripping with various parts of the body. As for their high heels, "every dance has its shoe," observes Anna Grundstrom, the co-founder of the US Pole Dance Federation. "In high heels, you can grip higher on the pole."
As a dancer, Mortezaie seemed to accentuate the sexy elements of her movements. She considers this "empowering," while other dancers, like Martin, favor a less overtly sexual approach.
"I actually try to numb that part down," says Martin, a self-taught pole dancer who cross-trains in martial arts, yoga, boxing and running. "You can't take a woman's natural seductiveness away from her, but I tend to stay away from the shake-your-ass maneuvers."
Acosta, who demonstrates a languid, graceful performance quality in her routines, feels she's "not a very sexy performer" but defends the dancers who are.
"I think it would be wrong to take out the sexual appeal of it, otherwise pole dancing would be nothing more than just stunts and gymnastics," she says. "So much of dance is sexy. I've seen modern dance performances where it looks like the dancers are having sex."
Judith Lynne Hanna, a dance scholar at the University of Maryland, points out that many dance forms contain sensual or sexual elements and were stigmatized at various points in their histories.
Hanna, who has served as an expert witness on more than 100 court cases related to exotic dance regulation, also mentioned examples of highly regarded choreographers such as modern dance pioneer Anna Halprin, who received a warrant for her arrest in 1967 when she presented a dance involving female nudity in New York.
"And then you have belly dancing, which contended with stigmas similar to pole dancing," Hanna says.
Though some people attempt to trace contemporary pole dancing to the traditional Indian sport of Mallakhamb, or pole gymnastics, Hanna says the form really got its start in the 1980s, when strip clubs "became more upscale and elegant. I'm not sure when it became so gymnastic, but at some point, pole dancers became very skilled," she says. "After all, if everyone's doing the same thing but you do something different, you could attract more tips."
Outside the strip clubs, pole dancing continues to evolve, with new tricks and terms being invented and dancers exchanging information by posting performance and instructional videos on YouTube.
"What I call an outside leg hook might be called 'the firefly' in one studio and 'the fireman' in another," says Grundstrom, who mentions efforts to "put a Web page together with names of moves we all agree on."
Grundstrom feels that pole dancing is "in the middle" of significant evolution. "Some people have kept the flowing, circling movements, others are more athletic," she says, noting the recent petition to get pole dancing included as an event in the 2012 Olympics.
"The athletes will see it more as a sport and the dancers as more of an art," she said. "Our goal at the Federation is to make pole dancing credible . . . the more you put pole dancing in other places, the more you change people's minds."
I just got home from Yoga Booty Ballet (a/k/a YBB) and I can't tell you how wonderful I feel.
I took my first YBB class months ago at Swerve Studios in Hollywood, which is a great dance studio, btw. My teacher was Bianca Arvin, a lanky Texan with a terrific giggle and endless amounts of energy.
Although I teach pole dance and rock that artform, I'm just not really a coordinated "dancer." I can't remember combinations and I generally turn right when everyone else is correctly going left. I often feel like the confused girl in a room full of Rockettes. On that day, Bianca made me feel successful and the hour and a half passed by so quickly.
I knew she was something special, so I asked her to bring YBB to my studio in Torrance and share her gift with the women of the South Bay. My idea was that I would also get free classes, since she was working for me (haha, so sneaky!) but my Sundays quickly became filled up with family obligations and I was never able to make it over.
Today, I was determined to get there because I have to perform with my Sassy Minxx again this month and I gotta drop a couple, plus the dreaded eating holidays are swiftly approaching. I know that if I'm to get through the next two months in the same clothes I'm wearing now, I damned well gotta do the cardio. And, just like before, I fell in love all over again. This class is just freaking fun!
YBB is a combination of meditation, cardio dance and intense ballet moves specifically designed to harden and boost your butt. Different teachers bring their own style, music choices and pacing to the class. You might have seen the wildly successful DVD series in your local Walmart too. I've taken class from other YBB teachers, but Bianca is still my favorite.
She chooses music that I love, like Janet Jackson and Madonna and gives me moves I can relate to like "The John Travolta Eye Sweep", "Sparkle Fingers" "Paper Doll" and the "Go Away." They're just fun. Like all the girls are grinning from ear to ear while they do them. We lose ourselves in the moves as the sweat literally pours into our socks. And yet, it's still low impact (which my knees appreciate) and everyone from 24 to 59 is keeping up.
After a killer abs set, we finally come back to meditation and close with visualization and spiritual cleansing. My mind was so clean that I was able to let my mind wander with the music and I felt like I was in a trance, laying in savhasana and traveling out of my body.
This class is a whole body detox. My body cleansed itself of thousands of cells, healthy sweat took immeasurable amounts of bloating salt out of my pores, my heart felt like it had been heard and all my muscles felt loose and yet toned. Short of my pole classes, I don't know of any other class that works the inside of a woman as much as the outside.
Bianca teaches her last class of 2008 on November 23 as she's traveling through Europe in December. You've got one last chance to join me and see why I am passionate about the good that she's doing for women with this mind/body class.
Bianca's YBB Class
@ Heart & Pole Dance Studio
1951 W. Carson Street
Torrance, CA 90501
Sunday, November 23 @ 10:30am
SPECIAL RATE THIS CLASS: $10
Updated 9:40 AM PDT, Sat, Oct 18, 2008
An angry wife or girlfriend might not be the only thing to worry about when visiting a strip club.
A Florida man who is suing a jiggle joint claims a performer's shoe flew off during a pole dance, shattered the mirrored ceiling and caused glass and the shoe to hit him.
The lawsuit filed in Broward County by 35-year-old Charles Privette says the Booby Trap breached its duty when its employee failed to perform her routine in a reasonably safe manner. The suit seeks at least $15,000 in damages.
Privette's attorney says his client suffered a small cut to his eyebrow, headaches and nose bleeds because of the Jan. 14 pole dance. Booby Trap general manager George Gettinger acknowledges paramedics were called but says injuries were minor.