I heard one woman describe pole dancing as a “performance.” Because of this and other reasons, she decided pole dancing wasn’t right for her and it wasn’t what she needed to tune into her sensuality and sexuality. For her, to paraphrase, it was too much of a focus on an outward thing when really she wanted to turn inwards.
Upon hearing this, I thought to myself, “She’s never tried Sheila Kelley’s S Factor.”
I’ve made it a point to try various pole dancing and sensual movement classes throughout New York to see what each studio has to offer. Every one of them has their strengths and weaknesses. There are things I like and don’t like. There are teachers, who no matter the studio affiliation make it a point to teach & guide me as I build core strength and develop this new lifestyle of mine.
Even still, as I always say, “There’s nothing like S Factor.”
Today, I took a level four class with instructor Beth Bardin. She was also my level one teacher two years ago. To date, I’ve been a repeat level six students for almost a year now. S Factor recently began a new program called “Open Enrollment” where you can sign up for your once a week regular class but then, if there is space, you can go to ANY OTHER CLASS YOU WANT! There are weeks when I’ve go to 8 classes, sometimes two classes back to back. Actually two Sundays ago, I went to three classes back to back to back. Therefore, even though I am a level six student, I make it a point to go to all levels of classes and to try the specialty classes like Super Pole III which kicked my ass!
I’ve mentioned Beth a couple of times. She’s one of my favorite teachers. (Ilov and Jill are my favorites too! Loretta rocks as well. So does Shannon. And Cat.) Beth was referenced last week in “Someone Has To Be the Sacrifice“. Beth is also the one who said, “Do Everything Your Mama Told You Not To Do.“ Remember that post? She’s also the inspiration behind, “The Siren Has Awoken” in which she’s quoted as saying, “Let your body take up space!”
Today in class, Beth threw around the words emotionality and sensuality. She gave us various exercises to try in pairs and she wanted us to explore engaging our partner as well as tuning in to ourselves. Eventually she said, “It’s about having the inner awareness, the outward expression and the conversation.” THAT’S IT! That’s one of the main things that S Factor is about. Its not just about a performance. In fact, they don’t have performances and student recitals. (Although I like when studios do that!) For S Factor, its about tuning into your inner awareness then finding a way to connect that awareness to your outward expression of movement. And while you’re moving, its about conversing with the person in the chair or your classmate on the yoga mat beside you who’s doing hip circles or the girl crawling next to you during moving meditation or to the peanut gallery of cheering friends screaming “GORGEOUS” as you rock it to Sail by Awolnation. It’s a conversation not a performance and there is a difference; a profound, life affirming, energy exchanging difference.That is why I go each week. I get to play with the balance of inner awareness, outward expression and conversations as I explore music, themes, outfits and movement.
Beth went on to mention the “black out dances.” Some of you know what that is. It’s when something takes over during your dance and more often than not, your eyes are closed then its five minutes later the music has stopped and you don’t know what the hell happened. For some people its freeing. In those moments they may have danced the best they ever have in their life. Or maybe they were able to exercise a demon or release some tension. Its neither good or bad but it was a black out and I’m not sure that “black out” is the cousin of “inner awareness.” If every dance is a black out dance, as Beth mentioned, you end up living in your fantasy world 24/7. Sure this could be fun. Its your world. You make the rules. You do as you please. But to quote Beth, “It’s sad because there are no boys there.” That’s where the conversation bit comes in. We are all connected. We live in community with one another. We crash into each other. We flow into each other. We exchange energy, love and feisty little glances. We are not islands or bubbles and therefore it doesn’t serve your personal growth to ONLY perform or ONLY black out or to keep it all to yourself. (You can if you want. It’s your prerogative. But I personally believe life is better when after inner transformation, we find a way to express that and connect with the world. Otherwise we could all live as hermits and never come out to play.)
You may never lose 50 pounds pole dancing even though you joined it for fitness. You may never unlock your wild, sexy side even though you joined pole dancing for the sensual, exotic nature of it. You may not find the answers to life or fix your childhood trauma, even though you may have joined it for self help and therapy. Hell, you may never compete even though you joined it to network, showcase and perform. These things may not happen or they might. Whether they do or don’t isn’t the point for me.
I initially joined pole dancing to gain some muscle mass and because it seemed fun but then S Factor happened.
I went for a sassy gym class and I discovered a sanctuary of freedom where the teachers and the studio have a mission beyond teaching me a trick, climb, invert and a sassy 8 count. Through yoga, hip circles and moving meditation, they’re guiding me on a path of inner awareness, outward expression and soulful conversation.
That’s why I pole dance. Just saying!
Below you’ll find some of my most recent pole dancing posts.
Below are some of my favorite sexy musings.