Its time we revisit what I wrote almost a year ago in a post called, “Triggered By Trauma” because the journey of loving Him is changing areas of my life that I hadn’t anticipated, including my journey as a pole dancer and sensual movement artist. I’m making peace with these nuances.
What is an Erotic Creature and Who is ISIS, SLY and SHEENA?
If this is your first post here, here is a quick recap to catch you up. When I dance, “depending on the day, the mood and probably who I’ve last had sex with, you may encounter 1 of 3 iterations of my Erotic Creature, as Sheila Kelley S Factor calls it.” You may encounter, ISIS, SLY or Sheena. ISIS the Siren is a dominatrix and she only wants to destroy. I tend to wear chains, collared spikes, roam the room with a riding crop and am described as a “Sensual Predator or Venus Flytrap.” SLY the SIREN is a coy, flirtatious, playful temptress who likes to wear dresses and lace and she’s described as a “Feisty Tease.”
(See “The Emotional and Sexual Core of a Siren” to understand “Erotic Creature.” See “The Rage of Isis“ and “Counting Bodies Like Sheep“ for a definition of ISIS. ISIS’s pinterest board is here. See “Trouble? Who, me?“ and “In My Defense“ for a definition of SLY. SLY’s pinterest board is here)
When I dance as Sheena however, its entirely something else. When I dance as Sheena the SIREN, it is pure, vulnerable, exposed energy. I think its a combination of the child I would have been had I never been touched as well as the brokenness that was left because I was. But she’s still being defined as my life continues to evolve. That’s what we need to talk about because in class, we’ve now acknowledged that she doesn’t have to be triggered by trauma or by sadness or melancholy or depression. That’s part of my story but its not all of my story. Underneath it all, Sheena the Siren (and the person) is a pure, vulnerable, exposed (OPEN) energy flowing through the world…and the pole dance studio.
(For the first iterations of Sheena into by movement see “Triggered By Trauma.”)
What Happened During that Two Hour Semi-Private with Ilov Grate
A few weekends ago, after feeling cabin fever from being home during the east coast snow storm, I ventured into the city to attend my weekly Sheila Kelley S Factor pole dance class. What I didn’t anticipate was that I would be 1 of only 2 students, as everyone else signed out or was traveling. Normally class has 8 to 10 women.
Do you know what this means? I was both excited and scared as it meant I had a TWO HOUR pole dance and sensual movement SEMI-PRIVATE class with my instructor, Ilov Grate. I knew she was going to WORK MY ASS.
As a quick breakdown for the flow of S Factor classes, you should know that we warm up for 30 to 45 minutes in a sensual pilates yoga type of flow. (Watch this.) Then we learn a pole trick, spin or climb. (Watch here as one of my teachers explain an invert.) Next, we all get dressed up and we rotate doing freestyle dances based on themes, props and more. After we dance our teacher gives us feedback and we rotate so that the next girl can dance.
BUT with ONLY two women in class…this means more individualized time working on pole tricks. My arms and back were so sore from working on new ways to move into a butterfly/archangel. (Watch here to see a tutorial.) And it means, we were able to dance more than once. In fact, we each danced THREE TIMES. Twice, both I and my classmate was able to pick a song and the third time based on everything she saw, our teacher picked a song.
So first, I decided to dance as a blended version of SLY and ISIS, fiesty, flirty, provocative while hunting my prey.
I danced to Bury the Evidence by Tricky. (video below) My teacher asked how I was feeling after my dance. “I feel like I was just getting started….” I said.
Next, my classmate danced. She shared her feelings, received her feedback and then I danced again. Along with feeling feisty and flirty and feeling like I’m a wolf on the hunt, I was feeling something else at the same time too. I was feeling vulnerable, gentle and soft but in an unresolved sort of way. So I figured, I’d do the things I needed to dance as “Sheena.” Remember, when I dance as ISIS, I know how to trigger myself. Chains. Spikes. Riding Crops. Even the music can be a trigger. Same with SLY. I can wear skirts or lace or change the song. (My costume for the first dance was a blend of SLY and ISIS and the song was a very ISIS song.) So, for my second dance, I picked a VERY different song, “For My Help” by Hayden Calnin. (video below) I changed my clothes, put on a flowy skirt. (See sample of how said flowy type of clothes and music changes things by clicking here.)
When I finished my dance, my teacher asked about the difference between the first and second. I knew it. I told her the second song, I danced as Sheena. My movement was more open, more intentional…there was a bit of struggle…hmmm, maybe more of a longing, a yearning. I took my time. I kept trying…for something. But I also gave up. But also I was open. I was just energy….in that dance. (Who knew so much happened in pole class, right?)
“….you have used them as armor.”
My teacher, being the prolific women she is said, “While ISIS and SLY are a true part of you, you have used them as armor. You’re all, ‘I don’t know you. I don’t know if I like you. I don’t trust you. So you get SLY or ISIS.’ And then there is SHEENA. All these parts of you are true. But I think your next level of exploring is finding a way for them all to co-exist.”
BUT of course! Its what I’ve been searching for…for months…though I never articulated it to her. I want them blended because really, I feel them all…all the time. I am feisty. I am a flirt. I play coy as I want AND at the same time I am a hunter, I am lethal, exact and take calculated risks as I master the world AND at the same time, I’m energy. Pure, unadulterated, open energy flowing. But how the fuck do I dance all that even though I FEEL all of that ALMOST all the time?
My teacher asked if she could select my third song and of course, I gave her the. So my classmate dances again. She shares her feelings. The teacher gives her feedback and its me again. One of the things my teacher does is give you additional props, prompts and triggers. So she put a pile of pillows on the floor and said I could sit or lay however I wanted, so long as I positioned the pillows between my legs. (She did this because she knew it would trigger the flirt “Sheena” in me.) Then she played a song, Gorgeous by X Ambassadors.
And what happened was magic. All my parts came out to play in a unified front. Not only that, I smiled a lot during the dance. (That’s rare. Not that I frown…but here I was dancing as Sheena…and I wasn’t “triggered by trauma”….I was open and smiling.)
After the dance, my teacher and I talked. She told me that one, I needed to find ways to trigger all the parts of me in one song. So, she played a “SHEENA” song but gave me a “SLY” position to start in. She told me to try wearing “ISIS” clothes but playing a “SLY” song. Or wearing “SHEENA” clothes while playing an “ISIS” song with a “SLY” prompt. Ahhhh!!! That little thing made such a huge difference in unifying them all. I wondered why I hadn’t thought of that before.
Another thing though…something more profound that I needed to hear. She told me dancing as SHEENA, didn’t have to come from a sad or hurting place. Sure it did before…but my life isn’t triggered by trauma anymore. I’m triggered by love and truth.
Its a story I have to articulate and finish over time as I’ve struggled with the right words for months now. But I did realize mid last year, my heart has been blocked by grief and its probably why it took trauma to trigger me to dance as my authentic self. And having worked on that grief in my own ways, in my own private community and by being with a man that creates a safe space for me to be vulnerable, open, nourished and held in a deliberate, intentional way while still managing to provoke me and satisfy me, I’ve now seen a new way my SELF shows up. Yes, in life. But also in dance. Its why there’s been something unresolved these past few months. I was trying to fuse a dancing dominatrix and a dancing flirt with someone who was hurting and grieving in her openness. And that’s not me anymore.
Recently in class, I did this fusion dance again. To trigger Sheena, I took my shoes off during my dance. (99% of the time I dance in 7 inch heels.) Then I picked a SLY song, Grip by Tessa Thompson and I made sure I had some panties on with a couple chains. By the end of that dance my teacher explained how she saw a “sensual tribal warrior priestess.”
I think I’m on to something here.
I’ll keep you updated!
When it comes to your artistic expression, do you fuse all the sides of you versus only triggering one archetype? If so, how do you do it?
POLE DANCE CLASS STATS:
Teacher: Ilov Grate
Class: Level 6,
Studio: Sheila Kelley S Factor New York