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Diversity at PoleCon

Have you checked out the workshop and event line-up at PoleCon? There is such a diverse group of instructors and classes. I can’t wait to get there! Now I have to figure out which classes I’m going to take.

Since this week is all about PoleCon I took a few minutes to talk to owner Colleen Jolly to find out more. Here’s what she had to say …

So many of the most well-known pole dancers are either teaching a workshop or performing at PoleCon! How did you work that out?
Haha, lots of begging! I booked several pole stars through Poles on Tour, which is a great company who makes it easy for dancers and studio-owners or event-owners to coordinate talent. Others, I reached out to directly and still others found me.

You offer a very diverse grouping of workshops. How do you decide which ones to bring to PoleCon?
I wanted to make sure we had a very diverse group of instructors who had different styles and represented different parts of the pole community so that everyone could look at the schedule and have a total geek out moment — “OMG! They’re teaching! I have to go!!” Several workshops leaders are people that first inspired me to pole while others are inspiring me every day.

I noticed a that you have a “Men of Pole” showcase scheduled. Do you expect a large male turnout?
I am hoping for a strong male turnout. At the studio I have in DC, my husband and I host a couples pole dancing class called “Sadie Hawkins Day” that gets a great dude turnout. The male workshop leaders we have at PoleCon represent very divergent styles and backgrounds from burlesque to parkour to circus and yoga! Many of them will be performing in our Men of Pole showcase on Friday too!

StraightEdge_DonnellI’m a Black woman who pole dances and I’ve been accused of being racist because I don’t post many Black women on my site. Well, I don’t have many submissions from Black women wanting to be on my site. Do you feel like Black women are underrepresented in the aerial world? Is that why you included the Black Girls Pole showcase?
I used to dance with a Bollywood dance troupe and I’m White. I loved the girls I danced with, but many people in our mostly-Indian audiences didn’t seem to understand why I was there. Eventually, because of myself and other non-Indians who fell in love with the dance style being represented, the audience started to change their understanding of who could love and share in their culture. I’m very sad when I turn on the news and see all the hatred and violence and inequality still present in our world because people look different from each other. I think it’s important that everyone has a voice and even though the pole world is a tiny part of things, we should celebrate everyone! I specifically scheduled Black Girls Pole as the first showcase to open PoleCon to show our diversity and inclusive nature. I want everyone to feel welcome.

Some women think they can’t be a pole dancer if they aren’t skinny. I tell people all the time it’s not true. I’m a living example! That’s why I’m thrilled that you have a performance by Dangerous Curves. Can you tell me a little more about what they will be doing at PoleCon?
Yes! Dangerous Curves is a wonderful group run by Roz “the Diva” Mays who will be conducting workshops at PoleCon including a free seminar about how to coach plus-size athletes. Roz is bringing her Dangerous Curves All Stars, male and female, to perform on Friday. I have seen her All Stars perform and they are fierce! Hopefully they will inspire the people who are afraid that they’re not ready to try pole or who don’t see bodies that represent their own poling. It is incredibly important to have someone to look up to that also looks like you to encourage and mentor you, even if it’s only from a distance.

My postings on Aerial Nation have shown me that pole dancers are diversifying their instruction into other forms of aerial, acro or circus arts. Is that why you decided to introduce workshops like Flexibility and Contortion with Derick Piersen?
Absolutely, we are looking to represent diversity at PoleCon not just in bodies but also in background. There are a lot of cross overs between circus art and other aerialists in pole now. We’re seeing more and more studios offer classes in lyra, silks, aerial yoga or hammock and we are reacting to the demand. Derick has a great circus background and is one of the most flexible people I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to see what shapes he bends his students into =)

The Pole Tastic Gymnastic class with Heidi Coker sounds really interesting … and nothing at all like something I would be able to do!
You know, I thought the same thing too and then I actually took this workshop with Heidi last year. It was SOOO tough but she approaches things with a perspective that I’d never been exposed to before even bringing in tricks from break dancing! I think it’s incredibly valuable to try things you might not be good at or be familiar with, because otherwise how are you going to get better? Challenge yourself! And if you don’t get the move right away, you’ll always have things to work on. I am definitely seeing a trend in pole studios and competitions with more and more gymnastics style tricks like handstands and cartwheels. Who better to learn from but a former gymnast?

MoreFunAtPoleConEveryone who follows Pole Dance Nation knows I LOVE pole doubles tricks! Can I still take the class if I don’t have a partner?
Definitely! We have three classes that involve partners: one AcroYoga workshop with Accro Brandon, a partner stretching class with the Head Over Heels Troupe and a doubles pole class with the world champion duo Lisette and Terri. You don’t have to have a partner to sign-up — you’ll make friends fast!

I know how to twerk very, very well. I actually taught twerk classes for two years at Pole Dance Charlotte. My very first pole instructor Torwa Joe is offering a class called, 99 Ways To Twerk It Out. I get so much flack whenever I post a twerk video on Pole Dance Nation. I really want to know how people reacted when you announced this as a class.
Wow! I love twerking! It was so hard at first – it took me about 3 months to figure it out and now I’m super proud of my ability to booty isolate but am still working on my clapping. I took a free class with Torwa Joe at the 2013 PoleCon and it was packed! There had to have been almost 100 people in that room and everyone had a great time. I booked her this year for her new workshop, 99 Ways to Twerk, hoping that everyone would love it in 2015 as much as they loved it in 2013. All those haters are clearly jealous =)

Have you personally taken classes with any of the workshop instructors before? If so, was there any class that was more challenging than expected?
Oh yes! I’ve taken classes with Cleo the Hurricane, Dakota Fox (and her Head Over Heels Troupe), Danielle Romano, Heidi Coker, Jamilla DeVille, Liquid Motion, Natasha Wang, Philip Deal, Phoenix Kazree, Samantha Star, Suwasit and Torwa Joe. I, uh, train a lot =) I loved all of their classes and everyone offered something different for me at a different part of my pole journey over the past few years. Liquid Motion was my first pole workshop ever and I’m so happy to have Jeni and her team on board. They have a free workshop and two paid workshops so you’ll have tons of opportunities to learn.

Have any of the classes sold out yet? Which classes do you think will be/or tend to be best sellers?
We are nearly sold out of all of Marlo Fisken’s workshops (she has three) and the free elevatED taster class (two, one Friday and one Saturday). I expect all the pole classes to sell out before PoleCon since they are so limited. If you’re reading this and you want to take classes – book now to make sure you get the workshop you want!

I’m all out of questions! LOL. Is there anything you would like to add?
I’m really inspired by Deb Roach. This Australian star was born without most of her left arm and is an extraordinary pole athlete and yogi. She’s teaching two classes, one pole and one non-pole and is performing in our “Australian Invasion” showcase. We’ve only talked virtually so far and I can’t wait to meet her in person!


*reposted from www.poledancenation.com

Nikki St. John
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