Friday, January 31, 2014

Weekend Crush: Michelle Stanek, A True Angel

This week the pole world was shocked, appalled, and yes, more than a bit upset over the overt plagiarism of one of our most loved pole stars. What makes this story special is not that it happened, because art forms are so often subject to not-so-flattering imitation. It isn't even that it made waves, because as we know the pole world is extremely close knit, maybe even to a fault. An issue that could have rightfully lead to legal action and enmity turned out to be an example of true kindness and respect.

Lisa Fedele of Italy performed Michelle Stanek's routine, down to the same music, for Canale Italia. You can see the similarities in choreography for yourself, you will want to watch at least the first 30 seconds if you haven't seen it before:

Now compare that to Lisa's version. Déjà vu, right? Lisa was right to challenge herself with attempting Michelle Stanek's choreography as there is a clear difference in technical execution. She has an amazing talent for the contemporary pole dance style on top of being an amazing sexy pole dancer.

Michelle's response:
Hi EVERYONE! In response to the video I posted earlier today of a pole dancer using my USPDF choreography: Thank you for all the crazy support! Word travels fast on the internet and the girl in this video and I have been talking. I cannot speak for her too much, but she is a very sweet girl who feels completely overwhelmed and horrible. She asked how she could solve the issue. I let her know I am not mad but I would have appreciated an email requesting permission to use my choreography beforehand as well as be given a credit (both of which I have given to others in the past and would have given to her). She says she DID tell the show producers it was a piece by me but has now reached out to them again to give proper credit. I would never have thrown the book at her or anyone, I am too compassionate of a person. I am glad we were able to handle it this way. Now I'm off to Australia! — traveling to Perth, Western Australiafrom JFK Int'l Airport Terminal-4, NYC-USA.

How sweet is that? She could have been well in her right to get a lawyer on this and instead reached out to Lisa. And it looks like Lisa Fedele, along with the rest of us, is an even bigger fan of Michelle's for it:

"Riuscire anche solo a ripetere 30 secondi di QUELLA coreografia, beh, per me é stato come toccare il cielo con un dito, dopo neanche due anni di pole dance. Forse non sarò LEI, per me sarebbe un sogno diventare brava come Michelle Stanek! Lei é stata così tanto di ispirazione per me, e ho visto quel pezzo talmente tante volte che per me é stato inevitabile provarci. Forse ingenuamente e nel modo sbagliato. Anche perché più in là di quei 20/30 secondi sarebbe stato impossibile andare visto il SUO altissimo livello tecnico, che spero un giorno di raggiungere. Lei é stata molto gentile e carina con me, abbiamo risolto la cosa in "amicizia"... com'é giusto che sia, appena possibile, ci saranno i suoi crediti sotto il video. Parlare con lei é stata la realizzazione di un piccolo sogno. Non si sa come, ma riesco sempre a mettermi nei pasticci. Ora ho constato sulla mia pelle la portata virale di internet e youtube. Questo episodio sarà per me fonte di ispirazione per trovare realmente la mia strada nel mondo della pole dance." "Succeed only 30 seconds to repeat that the choreography, well, for me it was like touching the sky with a finger, even after two years of pole dance. Maybe I won't be her, to me would be a dream become good as Michelle Stanek! She was so much inspiration to me, and I saw that piece so many times that it was inevitable for me to try. Perhaps naively, and in the wrong way. Also because beyond those 20-30 seconds it would have been impossible to go given its high technical level, which I hope one day to achieve. She was very kind and cute with me, we have solved the thing in "friendship" ... as it should be, as soon as possible, there will be its claims under the video. Talk to her was a small dream. You don't know how, but I can always get in trouble. Now I note on my skin the viral reach of the internet and youtube. This episode will be a source of inspiration for me to really find my way in the world of pole dance. "

Translated within an inch of it's life by Bing: "She [Michelle] was very kind and cute [sweet?] with me, we have solved the thing in 'friendship'..." I love that. We can be a very close community and protect our own while reaching out to others. Well done, Michelle, we could all do to take a page out of your book!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Stop Trying for Flexibility Progress

Just. Stop. Possibly the worst focus you can have while trying to increase your flexibility is the progress itself. Flexibility is s-l-o-w. While in two weeks of regular physical activity you should increase your intensity by about 15%, in two weeks of flexibility training you will be doing essentially the same stretches. Your progress will seem so minute that it is easy to give up. So forget progress.

When I stopped trying

This is one of my favorite flexibility tricks, all the sweeter because I just got it back after giving birth in November. I think if I had focused on recovering all that I lost in terms of pole, I would probably be drafting a Craigslist listing right now instead of a blog post. I did not stop stretching but I also did not over stress my mind or body; I stopped trying for progress and started trying for routine. The day I first achieved this pose it was more like suddenly feeling a cold, disembodied limb touch my head and hands--I was not expecting it. I was working towards it, but not working towards progress.

Learning to enjoy the process

Stretching sucks. It takes forever, it can be weird to do in front of others, and it hurts. Okay, so I don't completely mean that--I love stretching but I think it is more that I love the process. I make plans to stretch and my fellow Flexines keep me accountable but I also play music that gets me inspired and wear cute outfits so I feel the part. I definitely share my milestones and I brag (as you should, be proud and celebrate yourself, how many other people can do what you can?). For my photography guru friends... I apologize for my fuzzy video screencapture and all-too-slowly evolving image editing, er, skills. This too is a learning process I am trying to enjoy more and criticize less; we'll see how that goes. I believe it is critical to love the progress but do not lose sight of the fact that imperfection is part of the journey. You will have messy, uncomfortable poses before you have clean lines.

Love that, too.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Weekend Crush: Marion & Anastasia, Pole Sisters

To understand the pole community you have to understand the love. And there is so much love but my absolute favorite is pole sisterhood. (Awesome pole guys out there: you are loved too!) So when I saw this video I had to watch it about five times to even begin to soak in all the amazing.

My brain shuts down for a moment around 1:38. Side-by-side Extended Allegras. Side-by-ssss... Um, duh, wow.

This video has special meaning for me for so many reasons. It reminds me of the amazing group of ladies (and gents) I have grown to consider friends and pole family on StudioVeena and PDBloggers. There is Marion Crampe who--words cannot describe. She's amazing. Anastasia is my very first pole crush and the reason I started pole. (KiKi this reminds me to pester you into nailing Extended Allegra even more. See her beautiful Allegra here.)

One day I will hopefully never have to meet these ladies and fangirl the hell out. Bah, I can't resist, you know I will meet them and scare them away, haha. And the day I get the Extended Allegra I am going to hunt down my pole friends and do a remake of this. Hey, I love to dream.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Weekend Crush: Megan Branch

Gorgeous, talented, emotive... I adore Megan Branch. She has that floating-on-air dancing that I would love to have one day, that I will hopefully have the abs and control for. It's contemporary dance and then again it's also very personal, very her:

She has a beautiful story, too. In her audition for So You Think You Can Dance she described her love for her mother and the work they both put into her dance. Her mom worked extra night shifts to get her through dancing after Megan's parents divorced. Growing up it always made me sad how few people really appreciate the sacrifices their parents make; Megan is one of the few. All she needs to be the picture of perfection is to translate contemporary dance into pole dance.

This particular dance, I am Lost, got me through my Bible as Literature course. I was sick, trying to keep my daughter in clean clothes and my two-month-old cared for with this last class to finish up for my transfer degree. Four days before my extended deadline I had four essays to write and a semester project to finish; it was rough. Every time I lost focus and wanted to go for a run or just plain watch T.V. I took a moment to watch this. Watching Megan lose herself in her dance helped me find enough of myself to keep working at it. Dance is magical that way.

Above getting in on SYTYCD, Megan is so much inspiration in one. There are those amazing abs, for starters. She has crazy stability in the most bizarre poses, something I love because it expresses such a range of emotion. Her flexibility is absolutely lovely. I want to do that crazy toe thing at 0:44 but my high heel issues will mean quite a bit of work first. Still, you never know what I might do next.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mood Music: Mondays are for Fighters

Just one more rep. Just one more minute. For us pole dancers, music helps us get one more attempt at a trick or one more climb before we call it a day. I will honestly tell you that I cannot workout without music and dancing is just ridiculous without it. I typically have at least a few songs for every mood--even various types of music just for stretching.

Hello Mood Music Mondays!

My goal is to share a few songs every other Monday, sometimes more often, that fit into a specific mood. The kind of songs that personally help me run an extra twenty minutes or attempt *gasp* spin mode. To give you an idea a couple of my themes so far are "black lace on sweat" and "so fed up."

This week is about being a FIGHTER


You already know I love Christina Aguilera and this song is a huge part of that love. What better way to get back at your pole for being so slippery than: "Thanks for making me a fighter." If you aren't familiar with Fighter by Christina Aguilera, go fix that now and preview at iTunes within the widget above.


I have not gotten over this once since I first loved it in 2007. That was a rough year for me and this helped me survive by running... if only I had known about pole too. If you hate running this is an awesome song to get over it. Stronger by Kanye West is one of my favorites for bursts of energy--case in point, that beginning!


I poled, well, did my beginner's version of poling, to this song for KiKi's Pole Dancing Scholarship some time ago. Even though I didn't win it was nice to take a risk and put myself out there in a supportive community. Very fittingly, the song is Proud by Heather Small, a remixed version for QAF. I always want to climb when I hear the lyric "What have you done today to make you feel proud," something about it reminds me of rising.

All songs can be previewed and purchased from the widget above.

What songs make you feel like a fighter? Don't forget to check back on Mondays for more Mood Music!

Photo: Adapted from "Music" by Craig Cloutier, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Steve Jobs Should Inspire Your Pole Dance

What can a college drop out teach you about success--or about pole dance, for that matter? I wonder if you knew Steve Jobs dropped out of college and lived on his friends' dorm room floors. That he aimlessly took classes, "dropped in" on classes, based on whether or not he found them interesting. He did, in fact. And there is a powerful message in that for us as dancers as we go into a new year.