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June 2024 - Features: Exploring the Art of Pole Dance

Dancers of Black Widow Pole Arts
Dancers of Black Widow Pole Arts

Sitting in the crowd of cheering people on November 18, 2023, in the crowds of a variety show charmingly called "Head Ogre Heels," a Shrek-themed variety show with pole dance, burlesque, drag, and comedy, I was captivated by the pole dancers on stage. I loved how strong they were. How they made their intricate moves look smooth and effortless - how they winked and smiled into the audience. That night, I went home and researched pole dancing.

Among the beautiful videos of people performing, I found personal testimonials about how pole dancing made people feel – empowered, sensual, confident, and in touch with their bodies and strength. I called a friend that I knew took pole dancing classes at Black Widow Pole Arts and asked her to take me to a class. 

Black Widow Pole Arts' mission is to offer specialized dance classes focusing on pole dance and sensual movement. Their classes teach the art of movement and guide students in enhancing and tuning their energy, moving with purpose and clarity, and building healthy boundaries through movement and breath. As a studio owned by the strippers, they passionately welcome and love to train fellow strippers.

When I was there, I asked a fellow attendee what pole dancing meant to her. "I've always struggled with body image and confidence. The thought of going to pole classes felt impossible and way out of my comfort zone. I'm not a dancer. I'm awkward. I'm easily embarrassed," she admitted to me. And yet, after taking classes for a year, she now has a new appreciation for her body and all the amazing things it can do. "Pole gives me a creative and fun way to move my body and take up space in a way I've never felt comfortable doing before," she said.

Another dancer and performer, Angel, shared she got started because she is a doctoral student studying gun violence. She wanted to do something completely removed from the stress of that. "Performing in New Mexico makes me feel excited but nervous," she told me. "There is still a stigma associated with sex work, and I am worried that people in my professional spheres might perceive me differently for being a pole dancer if they encountered one of my performances. However, at the same time, I love getting the chance to show off my artistry because pole dancing is an art, and sex work is work. I am happy to be part of this dancing community in New Mexico, and I love finding unique events to showcase my craft."

It isn't just anecdotal that pole makes people feel empowered and confident. In a pilot study conducted by Jalda Lena Pfeiffer, Setia Kati Sowitzki, Thomas Schäfer, and Frank Euteneuer in 2023, the pole dance group exhibited notable enhancements in mental well-being, sexual self-efficacy, sexual anxiety reduction, heightened sexual self-esteem, and a greater sense of body appreciation when compared to the waitlist group.

If you're interested in upcoming pole events, follow Black Widow Pole Arts on Instagram or Facebook.


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