P2P: You were a judge at the European Pole Dance Champion 2011 competition. What were you looking for from the competitors’ performances?
RP: I come from a ballroom background, so one of my main things I look for is steps – as few as possible! I like every step to count. I am not too interested in the difficulty of the tricks or who can do the best move; I don’t think Pole Dance is about that, it’s about self-expression, fluidity, movement, grace and strength. That’s what I look for.
P2P: What do you think makes a good judge?
RP: A good judge has time for everyone. A good judge will give you 100% of their time and attention and a good judge should come from any walk of life. I don’t necessarily think you should be a champ pole dancer to judge, or a renowned figure. I think you should be someone that can listen and observe and critique constructively.
P2P: How and when did you first get interested in pole dancing and what made you become an instructor/performer?
RP: I went about it all inverse. I suppose I like to do things from all sides – the sweet and sour, so that way I have a fully rounded opinion. I was an exotic dancer and at the time it was the only way to learn. I loved the dancing and the confidence it gave me. I was never any good at ballet and didn’t have the patience to learn ballroom and I was always the kid that couldn’t climb the rope at school. When I discovered pole, I realized I was damn good at ballet (on the pole), that I had all the fire and enthusiasm for ballroom (in a pole context) and I am probably the only kid from my school that can now climb a rope with just my upper body strength – 20 years after I left!
P2P: What is it about pole dancing that you enjoy the most?
RP: Truly, I relish just pottering around in the studio, learning new moves, putting a routine together. As a teacher, I love to pass on everything I learn to my students and I love seeing progress. What is there not to adore about pole dancing? It’s everything: hard work, glamour, sweat, confidence – and the supportive network of your classmates and beyond is incredible. I never thought of myself as a people’s person until I discovered pole dancing.
P2P: What are your three favourite pole moves and why? (It can be your current three or all-time favorite three).
RP: My top three all-time moves are:
Flatline Scorpio – I love the shape of this move. It’s like a Kafka insect or maybe that’s just my skinny limbs – I’m more right angle than human. Scorpio – It’s like the dark sister to Gemini. It’s sensual and strong, yet twisted, painful to hold and stretch in to shape. Standard Grip handspring (I could stay all day in this position). It’s so comfortable and weirdly relaxing. My top three moves to teach, as opposed to current moves are: Gemini – I love this shape. It’s a classic move but such a pleasing shape. Walk Over/One Handed Handstand – I love the strength and balance needed to hold this pose. It’s a real crowd pleaser too. Layout/Plank – I think when you’ve mastered the plank and get a straight line running through the body, that’s a real turning point because you’ve mastered the tilt/angle of your pelvis. I’m convinced the secret to a good pole dancer is mastering your pelvis.
P2P: What are the main fitness benefits of pole dancing and how has pole dancing improved your fitness, strength or body shape?
RP: I have the body of a gymnast now, a skinny gymnast, but still, I’ve never been able to hold muscle mass before and now I feel strong and nothing less than an athlete. I think pole dancing is an extreme, high impact sport that uses both aerobic and anaerobic systems to work the body. As a fitness instructor, I would say it’s a pretty complete workout. My fitness, strength, flexibility, muscular endurance and core stability have improved. My body shape is different – my arms, waist, hip flexors and legs are different. I watch my students’ bodies change over time. They all come to me to get slimmer, then find that actually, they have strong shoulders, toned arms, a stomach to die for and their legs are strong. That is the body they really want and finally have.
P2P: Pole performers are athletes like in any other sport. What is an average day’s training for you?
RP: My training is pretty good. I practice for about 20/30 minutes, 3 days a week and teach 7 days. I also weight train to make me stronger and help with any strength imbalances (as pole dancers, we tend to lead with one side and aren’t as strong on our other side. I find that although I am not ambidextrous on the pole, if I train with weights then I can bridge the imbalance). The toughest issue I have with my daily training is eating. I try to eat every few hours, and when I do, they are quality meals – but alas – it gets very boring and I love sweets things!
P2P: What pole performers inspire you, or who do you admire?
RP: I greatly admire Neta Lee who won the European Category for this year. I also look up a lot to KT Coates and my biggest influence would be my original teacher; Nicole Smith. I also adore Maria Escalante’s Latino vibes and I recently saw Steven Retchless, whom I thought was a very humble, nice man and his performance was full of grace, strength and poise. A true professional.
P2P: If someone has never tried pole dancing before, how can they get started?
RP: That’s the hardest part, getting started. I think people are initially afraid, and make excuses, i.e. I could never wear shorts, I can’t show my legs etc. But what I really think is that people are afraid of walking into a room where there is an awful lot of students, and the pole can equally appear intimidating. The first thing you need to know is that everyone will support you – pole dancing is not an unpleasant environment, everyone is in it to help each other and better themselves. Ring round; find the studio that is right for you. Sometimes it’s not about what a particular school can offer you, it’s about how you feel when you walk into that studio. Just go for it. You rarely look back once you begin to pole dance. And the whole social world it opens up to you is worth it – competitions, photo shoots, demos, performances; what other form of exercise can offer so much?
P2P: What’s next for you in the coming year?
RP: I would like to host my own competition or showcase next year. I have been extremely fortunate in meeting such wonderful people and I’d like the chance to put on a good show for all my friends, family and students, as well as the lovely people I have met on my travels. I also have a clothing line out – Pole Republic. I am one of those girls that slinks around in hoodies, I love them! And at my gym I wanted to wear my colours, so that got me thinking. There is nothing really cool or funky out there for pole dancers, especially if you want to train at the gym. So I created a range of hoodies, shirts, string vests, sports top, joggers and hotpants. And just because I’m feisty, I also offer latex shorts!
Rebecca is Polaris
Pole Dancing School
Waltham Abbey & Harlow