I took ballet and pointe as a child. I have wonderful memories from that time of my life: the way the light came through the classroom windows, the smell of new shoe leather, the sounds of synchronized movement, dressing up in amazing costumes, the way I felt staring out into the blackness of the audience against the blinding lights on stage, my family attending my performances… beautiful childhood memories. I had an amazing dance teacher – one of the best teachers I’ve had in my life thus far. I respected her, I feared and admired her; it meant the world to me when she would simply walk by because it meant I was doing well by her. Any miss-movement was quickly and pointedly corrected – she taught me a lot about life and about myself. The fun, the frustration, and the beginnings of my journey…

With everything I loved about dance as a child it somehow always left me with a lingering feeling of emptiness; not how I envisioned or felt about the beautiful world of dance that I was within… I loved every bit of it and how it allowed me to push myself and to watch myself grow yet it somehow always left me feeling hollow and lonely as I walked away from my work… and eventually I did just that – I quit dancing.

A quarter of a century later and a chrome pole has finally brought me to the realization of why… the formal structured type of dance I was learning wasn’t fully allowing me to come outside myself when I danced; it boxed me in – the rules were too definite. The strict mold of traditional ballet was simply that – too strict for my personal artistic expression. I am unspeakably grateful for every second of that training because it lead me to where I am now and though learning the fundamentals of movement and the teachings of reaching toward the limitations of the human body and it’s capabilities I have an amazing foundation from which I have been able to explore my own personal style of movement.

So today I stood in my kitchen, 25 plus years after formal training, trying to releve and plie and conjure movements from the roots of which I came and it all just rushed in – I realized how free I feel as a dancer now compared to then and the path and reasoning behind it.

Pole is defiant – it absolutely begs you to break all the rules, to push the envelope, to do something new, unseen, unfelt, and unexplored and most importantly to find, explore and develop your unique self through movement.

Being a dancer is a lifestyle – it’s not an exercise that’s practiced or a job well done with completion– it’s an all encompassing, life consuming, every second of every day thing. Once someone becomes a dancer even his or her relationships tend to change.

When you’re consistently pushing yourself further than you once thought you could reach or achieve you learn faith and limitations fade away – looking forward is the new movement and your path is easily defined. It’s a very free, disciplined and vibrant way of living.

Pole dance teaches you that you are indeed strong and capable and that through minor changes, the world will become whatever you choose to make it.

Dancing is something I need and of which could be easily described as spiritual. It’s somewhat like the initial release of crying – a horrible and wonderful movement wrapped around a precipice or point. Dancing is like letting my soul cry (or be joyful/scream/etc – whatever it is that I need to express or explore at that given time). It’s profound, moving, pure, intense and brings immense release from whatever it is that weighs on me most heavily – the bad and the good.

Pole dance has given me freedom, choice, direction and movement and will forever hold a piece of who I am.

`Ava