Everybody in the pole community talks about how pole dancing is empowering – that is, until they don’t like what another pole dancer is doing. This is fascinating behavior – because it does not reflect the principles of empowerment at all. So why does it happen? And what do we mean when we talk about pole dancing being empowering? Let’s take a look at one definition of empowerment:
Empowerment encourages people to gain the skills and knowledge that will allow them to overcome obstacles in life or in their work environment and ultimately, help them with self-growth and/or their role in society.
So someone might come to pole dancing class to increase their confidence in their physical bodies through strength training. Or they may come to increase their confidence in their sexuality. What we frequently forget is that pole dancing is empowering to different people for different reasons. In the same way that a person might choose to ski for pleasure and relaxation, another will choose to ski for challenge and competition. As pole dancers, it’s important that we understand and accept the different reasons people decide to pole dance. And given the stigma that still surrounds pole dancing, it’s important that as a community we present a unified front to the general public. I started poled dancing because it was an amazing emotional and sexual outlet for me. One of my closest friends in the pole dancing community was drawn to its athleticism and purity of form. There is not a “right way” to pole dance.
But even more importantly it’s essential that as a community we resist denouncing one another. As a primarily female dominated industry we are at a high risk for what psychologists refer to as relational aggression. Relational aggression encompasses behaviors that harm others by damaging, threatening to damage or manipulating one’s relationships with his/her peers, or by injuring one’s feelings of social acceptance. When you criticize or put down a pole dance style that is different from yours, you are undermining that group’s social acceptance in the community. One of the things that makes pole dancing so unique is that it grew from an informal art. That is, pole dancing does not have a strict set of guidelines for movement the way ballet or other formal arts do. This makes it highly accessible to a vast number of women and men, who can choose to make it whatever they please. Deciding that one style of dancing is better than another undermines the very roots of pole dance, not to mention the empowerment tagline so often associated with pole dancing.
It’s perfectly acceptable and healthy to have your own preferences when it comes to your dance style. And it’s important to voice your
opinions. However, it is just as important to respect the stylistic choices of your fellow pole dancers. After all, part of empowering others includes accepting that their choices have as much value as yours do.
- Claire Griffin Sterrett
Editor in Chief of Vertical Art and Fitness Magazine
Author of Pole Story
You know the story… an evening of pole dance training, working hard to perfect your moves, putting your body through its paces, and the next day you’re covered in bruises and your muscles ache like crazy!
You’ll be pleased to know then that X-Pole is about to launch a new health and well-being section to address the common injuries and general health issues that many pole dancers face. We hope that we can then help to advise on these issues and support dancers with their training and performances.
Before we launch the new health section we would be very grateful if you can take our survey to find the most common injuries that affect pole dancers. After we have collected this information we will be back with a response from our local health wizard, Marcus Webb, who has treated many pole dancers passing by the X-Pole office.
You can take the survey by clicking here (it should take only a couple of minutes to complete).
To say ‘my life has changed’ since winning the USPDF Championships would be a massive understatement. I wake up most mornings still pinching myself in disbelief. As Alethea said to me after I won the title, “buckle up. It’s going to be a fun ride.”
Here’s a partial recap of what’s happened since April 29th:
1) I’ve been written about in the Huffington Post and my hometown newspapers The Austin American Statesman and The Westlake Picayune, and was amused to find myself as D-Listed’s “Hot Slut of the Day.” (To give you an idea of the company I keep, an opossum who’d been shot five times and survived preceded me just the day before.)
2) I practiced my on-camera interviewing skills with CBS Morning News, Al Jazeera and Telemundo, and made two appearances on Good Day LA and one on The View. I experienced the media’s love of schadenfreude – laughing at other’s misfortune and I fully came to understand the adage “any press is good press.” (This coming from a former publicist). I also saw Barbara Walters rock the X-Stage Lite, which will be one of my most cherished memories for life. That woman has raw, untapped talent.
3) I did a Girl Next Door photo shoot at Vasquez Rocks in which we lugged an X-Stage and set it up, renegade style. Hikers were disappointed to find that we were NOT shooting a porno.
4) I shot the COVER (!!!) of the next issue of Vertical Art & Fitness magazine and did an amazing session with the wonderful Jeff Xander for my X-Pole press photos.
5) I performed in the Showcase of the Stars at Pole Convention in West Palm Beach and gave a talk about competition preparation and finding your own voice as a dancer and artist. I overcame my fear of public speaking.
6) I jetted off to Greece to perform in a performance piece for artist Doug Aitkin that starred actress Chloe Sevigny, the band No Age, gospel singers, a tapper and a 3-time world champion whipper. We introduced pole to the tony fine art crowd, who respected our art tremendously.
7) I mapped out a workshop tour through the fall that will take me to San Francisco, San Diego, Mexico City, London, Bristol, Manchester, Hertford, Dublin, Stockholm, Milan, Rome, Athens, Vancouver, Dallas and Sydney.
I performed in July’s Girl Next Door show, which was the first time all three of the USPDF National Champions have graced the stage. Sharing the stage with Alethea and Jenyne was such a huge honor.
9) I quit my PR job of nine years. Yes. I really did. Leaving my career was a difficult decision, but the right one. Who else gets the opportunity to do what they love most?
This next year is bound to be filled with even more adventure, personal growth and I hope, increased acceptance of pole dancing as a legitimate sport/art that empowers both women and increasingly men. As US Pole Dance Champion 2011, I hope to represent all polers in that respect.
I’ll be writing regular blog posts for X-Pole throughout the year chronicling my new life as I perform, teach and dance my way across the globe. Drop me a line at Natasha@natashawang.com or hunt me down on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/natashapatwang to contact me personally. Look for me in the next X-Pole newsletter and thank you for reading. Happy poling!
Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to this year’s International Pole and Exotic Dance Fitness Convention. This year’s convention was a huge success with pole dancers, instructors and enthusiasts attending from around the world. We appreciate everyone’s support, help and interest. Also, meeting many of you in person was a big highlight for X-Pole!
Here is some coverage of the event:
ABC: Click Here
SENTINEL: Click Here
CNN: Click Here
UnitedPoleArtists: Click Here