Why All Pole Dancers Should Dance

Dance has been a part of my life long before I ever discovered pole. I started dancing when I was about 13 and fell in love with hip hop. I did take ballet, jazz, tap, and lyrical in order to be part of a local dance company in my hometown, but I always identified best with and most enjoyed looser street styles. When I started college in New York City I was thrilled to be near one of the most renowned studios in the world, Broadway Dance Center. I took multiple classes a week through my freshman and sophomore years, but the frequency declined once I started internships and eventually my career. It wasn’t until about a year and a half after I graduated college that I realized I needed to be active again, but instead of going back to BDC right away I opted to try a pole dancing class (at that point I didn’t realize that pole would actually end up consuming my free time).

Flash forward to early 2015 when I had to take a pole hiatus due to my injuries. The time off made me realize how much I missed dancing without a pole involved. And I thought, “Why wouldn’t I want to take dance classes anyway concurrently with my pole classes?” The benefits of exploring movement off the pole are enormous! After just a few classes at BDC, I was so inspired and made plans for all the new choreography I would incorporate into my pole dancing. I decided it would be necessary to continue taking at least one dance class a week to keep my movement fresh.

Hiphop class circa 2003/2004

Hiphop class circa 2003/2004

I think there’s so much importance in understanding and unlocking your body’s natural and even unnatural movement. Letting go and discovering what you’re capable of, opens a world of possibilities for your pole dancing. Anyone can do a chopper into a leg hang into a superman and descend. But how can you apply your own unique way of moving through that sequence that will set you apart from everyone else? I think we get so stuck on learning things that are specific to pole that we forget that there’s a whole other world of dancing to be explored that will take our poling to the next level.

To those of you who have never taken a dance class before or think you have the curse of rhythm impairment, I encourage you to not be afraid. I know dance studios can often be intimidating and sometimes even cutthroat in a way that pole is not. However, I feel you should give dance classes the same benefit of the doubt you gave pole. And maybe one particular style of dance or a certain dance teacher or even studio isn’t the right fit. Keep trying different classes until you find what works for you. Ask your pole teachers too – they’ll likely have some suggestions. I guarantee these classes will help you find new ways of moving you wouldn’t have thought to try previously.

Two other benefits of a dance class: 1) Learning choreography keeps your mind sharp, and 2) it’s an intense cardio workout that will improve your stamina.

In most dance classes you’ll spend the majority of the time learning a routine and at the end the teacher will have the class run it over from top to bottom a few times. Even if you forget some of the choreography it’s a mentally stimulating challenge that over time will become easier particularly if you continue working with the same teacher.

The dance group "Eithne" I was part of after opening a show for Ne-Yo!

The dance group "Eithne" I was part of after opening a show for Ne-Yo!

To my second point, you’ll sweat your ass off and build a hell of a lot of cardiovascular endurance that regular pole classes often don’t offer. When I was training for the Atlantic Pole Championships last year I couldn’t figure out why my stamina was non-existent. I kept wondering how I could dance non-stop for hours all those years without feeling out of breath, yet running even half of my pole routine made me feel like an elephant trying to climb a tree. Granted, there’s a lot more muscle activity taking up your energy in a pole routine, but I realized the lack of cardio that I once had in my life really made a difference.

Like anything else in life, growth comes from expanding your mind and breaking free of your comfort zone. Sometimes the things that seem really scary and unattainable turn into something you love and can’t live without. After all, you took a leap of faith by trying a pole class and now that’s your passion, so give dance a chance! It will only make you an even better pole dancer.