When and what inspired you to start pole dancing?
I started pole dancing in February of 2013. Pole and I sort of found each other at the right time. Between a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease, a very rough pregnancy and other life circumstances I needed a space in which to place and explore everything going on in my life. I needed to challenge myself and to reconnect with myself and pole gave that to me – more than I ever expected it to!
That being said, spin pole is what made me fall head over heels in love with pole. I do a much better, more thorough job explaining my journey in a Q&A video I made for my YouTube viewers. You can check it out here if you’re interested in hearing (nearly) the whole story: https://avamadison.dance/q-a-vlog-an-hour-with-ava-madison-pole-dancing/
What I don’t mention is that, when in the decision making process of taking up this new hobby, it was a toss-up between pole or roller derby and from my research (there’s that calculated risk taker in me), it seemed I’d have a better chance at a longer career in pole then derby (injury wise) so pole won. 🙂
Do you practice/train at home or at a studio?
I am a 100% self taught home poler so I work and train in my home studio.
Have you ever competed?
No I have not. Only with myself.
What type/size of pole do you use and why?
I prefer 45mm chrome poles. My 50mm brass is just a bit big for my liking and my 40mm outdoor swinging pole is just a tad bit thin. The Goldilocks in me feels a 45 is juuuuust right.
What has been your biggest challenge in pole dancing and how did you overcome it?
Good question. There have been many. That is a big part of what I love about pole though – the constant challenge. Any practitioner, no matter their style, is never at a loss for something new to accomplish.
The biggest challenge I’ve had has been the challenge with myself. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I’m stubborn as ever and I hold myself to a very high (sometimes too high) standard. Basically if I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.
Finding a symbiotic balance in my pole work with my autoimmune disease took me a while and I’ve stumbled a few times along the way.
What finally forced me to overcome it was snapping my hamstring; a very bad injury that nearly two years later I am still not fully recovered from. Losing my splits and a giant portion of my range of motion and flexibility caused me a huge loss of language within my movement artistry. That was a very painful (both physical and emotional) lesson but that particular injury also brought me a lot of perspective.
The rehab of that injury brought clarity to the fact that I needed to learn to take care of myself and most of all, that doing so meant different things at different times… and that it always will.
Pole is very much an outlet for me. Fitness is not my primary passion, it is a side effect of what I love, and if I take care of myself, I can insure my ability to do what I love for many more years to come.
Who is/are your pole dance idol(s)?
Honestly, anyone that poles is seriously badass in my book. The fortitude, determination and courage it takes to succeed at the sport is highly commendable.
My very first pole crush was a woman called Marieke. Her dance gifted me inspiration and insight into the style of dance I personally desired to explore and present. I first saw Marieke dance on a Studio Veena forum – a dance she entitled ‘good pole day’ if I remember correctly.
Up to that point in my journey I had seen many pole dancers of varying skill levels and styles but Marieke brought an elegance and grace to pole dancing that I had not experienced up to that point.
It was like she brought what I ‘feel’ when I dance into something tangible, visible and accessible to me during the early stages of my journey. Her grace on the pole paired with my desire for a style leaning toward expressionism quite literally solidified my own personal movement style.
Seeing her dance affirmed that I could (at least attempt to) birth a style full of grace, infused with articulate movement and presence within my own dance practice. Her style inspired mine and I will be forever grateful to her.
Over the years I’ve derived a lot of inspiration from Lola Grace (her movements are so organic, fluid and interesting), Marlo Fisken (I find her ever-climbing journey both as an individual and in the growth of her business very inspiring), Bendy Kate (her amazing flexibility, her work with canes and just her overall well-roundedness when it comes to aerials), Bethany Finlay (is there anything she can’t do?!), Yanis Marshall (not a poler but a super talented, passionate and inspirational dancer), Peter Holoda (I could watch his feet and leg lines all day long), Lou Landers (such solidity in all of her movements) and so many more – all amazing movement artisans!
What is currently your favorite “trick”?
The two tricks I’m currently loving are an open V variation of the Dragon’s Tail…
and also the Hands-Free Meathook….
What trick are you currently trying to master?
Handstands/forearm stands. I’ve been (very) slowly working on progressing them for quite some time. Progress is slow but they are a skill I’d eventually like to master.
Do you have any advice for newbies?
I think that it’s really important to discover your own style. I look at (being successful in) dance a lot like I look at (being successful in) life. We are all a part of the symphony of life. Each of us with our own unique tune and our own unique gifts that we contribute to the collective. To be successful, we do best by honoring and diligently improving our own unique song.
Being a dancer, my instrument is my body but dance is so much more than physical movement. Ask 10 dancers to perform 1 move and you will get 10 different expressions of that same movement. It’s through the traditional work of bodily discipline in conjunction with our personal experiences, that we create our own individual dance styles.
Each of us posses gifts and every one of us has the ability to pull from our own unique personal pot of experiences (our strengths, our weaknesses, our emotions – our individual life experiences) which are uniquely ours. Imbuing this into our movement exercises delivers an individually captivating originality that is infused with purpose and meaning.
So advice… move with purpose. Move with purpose because a deliberate life is a meaningful one. Enjoy the journey, eat clean, do not compete with anyone but your former self, remember that progress requires a diligent struggle, embrace your own unique style and of course, stretch. 😉
If it all seems overwhelming, take it in little steps. Start with something small that you want to change and change it (replace it, eliminate it, do whatever it is you need to do with it) then move on to the next goal. Keep doing this and soon you realize that one small change at a time leads to great transformations and you’ll enrich your life by knowing yourself, deeply.
What are you pole dancing MUST HAVES?
Give me a chrome X-Pole (https://www.avamadison.dance/xpole), a pair of purple Pleasers (https://avamadison.dance/pleaser-womens-sky-308-pump/) and some iTac2 (http://itac2.com/ref/AvaMadison/) and I’m a happy poler!
Do you have a funny pole dance story to tell us about? (for example., when my work computer was having issues and the IT guy asked what my password was… it was PoleDance33…. His face turned bright red!!)
I can’t say I have a really funny pole related story beyond getting my heel stuck in my pole shorts while dancing, putting my knee through my wall (twice) while practicing and things of that manner. Since I’m a home poler, my ‘humor’ oftentimes comes from the variety of muggle reactions to my space like the cable guy/contractors/neighbor (while mowing his lawn) seeing me flying above his fence line on my swinging pole (the slack-jawed confused expression was priceless)… situations of that manner always come in an interesting variety!
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