Even though our gorgeous studio is physically closed right now, our community here at Irish Pole Dance Academy is as strong as ever. Our members are still getting together online to keep up their training through our classes, as well as supporting one another in our Facebook group; we’ve been having great craic as well as training productively! This month we want to shine the spotlight on Rebecca, who has not only been dancing through the lockdown and taking many of our classes, she has also been supporting our members through our online group with her encouragement and dry wit, and her honest, inspiring late-night dancing videos!
Like so many of our members, Rebecca has been through a lot; including body image struggles, burnout and depression. She is someone who is able to recognise and articulate her vulnerabilities in a way that inspires and uplifts those around her. She is never disempowered and always rises, dusts herself off and keeps going, even when things aren’t easy.
She’ll tell you her story in her own words below!
“I remember so vividly the first time pole-dancing came across my radar. There was a clip doing the rounds on Facebook when I was about 17 of Anastasia Sokolova dancing to the Marilyn Manson cover of ‘Tainted Love’ on ‘Ukraine’s Got Talent’. I was completely shook by it, and ever since I had wanted to try pole dancing.
Over the years I just couldn’t get the idea out of my head, and I knew that I’d regret having never tried it! I loved watching dancers, and the idea of coming up with my own choreography. Music is the main passion that underpins everything artistic I do, and dancing seemed like the perfect way to honour the music that I love most. It sounds weird to say this, but I always knew I wanted to perform growing up – over the years I had tried Irish dancing, drama, I sang, played violin, tried to learn guitar and had been in a couple of really shit, angsty bands. But I never found anything that truly felt like me. I wanted so badly to find a way to make my passion for music physical – to find a way to honour the thing that inspired me most in the world. And once I had seen clips of pole dancers performing, I think deep down I knew that that was the way I wanted to do it.
When I started doing pole dancing classes, I realised immediately just how much it was building my confidence. So once I finished my ‘Introduction to Pole Dance’ course I felt like I was finally home, and I knew that this was something I needed to keep in my life.
Before I started, I really didn’t think I was strong enough, or had enough co-ordination! I always made up excuses as to why I wasn’t the “right person” to do it. I didn’t really have any background in dance or sports. Growing up, it was actually a running joke in my family how awkward, stiff and uncoordinated I was!
For years and years I also hated my body and felt really unfeminine. I was so skinny in college that I could feel my bones pressing into the chairs when I sat down. Then I finished college, got an office job and gained a stone in about a year, which completely tanked my self-image in the opposite direction. Then the excuses turned to “I’ll start pole when I’m thinner / fitter”. No matter if I felt I was tiny or huge, I always found some excuse to make as to why I felt like I wasn’t worthy of participating. But over time I realised that no matter where I was in life, there was going to be an excuse of some sort, and that I had to just try to push past it. I was really in a place where I didn’t have anything to lose by trying!
Before pole, I had taken a Burlesque-fitness style class once a week for a couple of months on a whim while in college, and it really helped me build confidence in myself and my ability as a dancer. Even if I couldn’t do any tricks, I learned how effective a well-timed hair flick was! By the time I decided to take pole dancing classes, I had been trying out various different Burlesque classes on and off. I wasn’t doing anything regularly, but I noticed that having dancing in my life made me feel a bit more confident and complete.
My view of myself has changed so much since I started. Every second I spend pushing myself in class, preparing for a showcase, or even just making silly dance videos in my apartment late at night feels like a massive “fuck you” to my ongoing body image struggles.
But it goes beyond that. I was so awkward and shy growing up, and then being diagnosed with severe depression in college made me feel like I couldn’t relate to anyone. I felt like a broken person. I didn’t know how to make friends. I went through a really rough time over the course of 2 years, where everything bad that could’ve happened pretty much did. For months upon years, all I wanted to do was lie down and shut myself off from the world. I burned myself out artistically in college and lost faith in my ability to create and connect completely. I didn’t know how to turn my brain off! And now I just couldn’t be prouder of myself for finding my passion and sticking to something, even if I suck at it sometimes! Doing pole has given me so much perspective on personal growth and learning how to be kinder to myself. Doing my first showcase performance at IPDA after only 3 months of pole dancing made me realise that great things can happen if I have faith in myself and commit to pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
I’ve only been pole dancing since July 2019, and I already can’t imagine my life without it. It’s the part of me I never knew was missing before, and I want nothing more than to keep creating, participating in the amazing community, and performing. I like signing up to do showcases, because they give me something to work towards, and building performance skills is really important to me! The energy and excitement is infectious! I’m really looking forward to when everyone can get back together again.
There’s so much I love about IPDA. The community is amazing, and I have never felt so supported or validated in my life – by the instructors and the other students alike! I was never one to stick around after my other dance classes or speak up at all – I always felt so shy and I would run straight out the door afterwards. But making friends at IPDA and really feeling like a part of it all was just so effortless. Everyone is so encouraging, everyone cheers each other on and shares in each others’ successes. I would always have issues before with insecurity and comparing myself to other women, and that’s completely come undone here. Everyone moves at their own pace, and it’s amazing to see everyone develop their own styles and unique flairs when it comes to their dancing.
I feel like I have genuinely made some friends for life here, and I’m so grateful for that. Plus, it definitely helped hearing the likes of Interpol and Glass Animals on the speakers warming up on the first day!
I ended up coming across IPDA online at the end of 2018, and after much deliberation I signed up for Arlene’s ‘Introduction to Burlesque’ classes. They really helped to empower me further and start building my own choreo from day one, which I was SO excited about. This confidence ended up eventually being what spurred me on to finally try pole dancing too. I already knew the environment was really supportive, so that helped me to make the jump so much.
You have absolutely nothing to lose by trying! And if you like it, you’ll end up kicking yourself for making excuses and not starting sooner! I know I did.”