Owning the Stage: Burlesque and Beyond

Owning the Stage: Burlesque and Beyond

(Crystal A. Proxmire, 12/18/2011)

The journey to owning a successful studio designed to empower and educate women on the art of sensual dancing began with the image of Tom Arnold, Rosanne Barr’s ex-husband, on a sports talk show doing a fitness routine.  “Here was this overweight, male actor up on a pole  doing dance moves to try and lose weight.  It was funny, but then it got me thinking.  Wait, this is exercise?  And I thought, wow that looks fun.  I bet more people would like exercise if it could be like that, “said Pole Addiction creator and owner Jessica Reynolds.

The musings led her to research Pole Dancing studios.  Realizing there were only six companies in the nation, she created Pole Addiction.  “I thought it would just be a fad that would be over in 18 months and it’d just be something fun to do for a while,” she said.  “But it’s just kept growing.

‘We get a lot of professional women in their 40s who come in because they want to get their sexy back, and we’ve seen a huge transformation in women who come here.  It is a fun way to get your body moving, but it also builds confidence and makes them feel good.”

Reynolds started Pole Addiction in 2005, first offering only pole dancing instruction.  The business has now grown to include aerial performance, belly dancing, and burlesque.  There are also more detailed classes, from specific aerial skills to tassel twirling, booty beat and pregnancy pole.

On Dec. 18 Pole Addiction brought in a special instructor to  do a class called Fabulous Is a State of Mind to teach performers how to “own the stage” with their presence and make a stunning first impression. Instructor Foxy Tann has over 25 years of professional performing, acting and directing, much of which was done for drag and bio-drag shows.  She has a BFA in theatre, and said that things she learned in acting classes can easily be applied to one’s on-stage performance, or any other arena of life where an air of confidence is desired.

“Whether it’s acting, dancing or public speaking, it’s all an exercise in risk taking, and in being able to be open and present in the moment of the performance,” Tann said to the class of eight.  Attendees were ladies of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds and variation in experience.  Each one left with more confidence and personalized suggestions for improving the way they move and share their bodies in the space that they are in.

In the hour and a half long class, Tann gave many suggestions for carrying yourself in a sexy, i.e. confident, manner.  She taught the dancers to root themselves in their environment, but imagining themselves like a tree, with the floor being the ground and with their legs being like roots, so that with each step they are conscious of being one with the floor.

She taught the importance of not looking at the ground, and not moving in ways that are designed to make your body smaller.  To have a presence you have to own, and inhabit, the space you are in, and be open to the world around you. Leading with your breasts and keeping your shoulders back is one way to be more physically open, and allowing your arms to be wide, but relaxed, also helps.

“Your intention is to grab that audience from the moment you walk out onstage,” she said.  “It’s not your walk that gets them; it’s the energy you put out there.”

Oftentimes those who take classes are nervous, and there are many professional dancers who never quite master the art of captivating their audience.  Tann and Reynolds agree they both have a policy of “fake it til you make it,” which teaches dancers that it’s okay to go out and be bold with what they are trying to do.  The more they do it with flair and confidence, the better their performances will continue to be, until finally the moves come naturally.

Another beginner’s hang up is if they mis-step they tend to correct themselves, and that’s when the audience can see the mistake.  “If you land on the wrong foot, or you miss a step, the audience isn’t even going to notice, unless you make it obvious.  Just keep going.”

The Fabulous Is a State of Mind class focused on attitude and presentation, more than on technical skills.  Participants did learn a short routine, complete with a shimmy and a series of thrusts, which gave them a chance to have fun with their newly fortified egos in a very supportive environment.

Guest instructors like Tann come for special classes as they are available.  Pole Addiction also has a regular crew of 10 instructors, each with their own areas of specialties and assigned days in the studio.  The prices of classes vary, and gift certificates are available.  Check out Pole Addiction at 3023 Hilton Road, or find more information online at www.poleaddiction.com.

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