Torstar news service
Lose the booze, the boys, and the naked bodies; add in a few more poles, mirrors, and moves that take physical agility as well as strength, and there you have the difference between my Wednesday evening and that of dancers at places like the Brass Rail.
It is no secret pole dancing is a great workout. Hollywood stars such as Kate Hudson and Teri Hatcher have been advocating the pole as a fitness tool for quite some time. But as I took my own spin at the small, intimate Felinity studio on Broadview Avenue, I learned that toned — or in my case aching — muscles are only part of pole dancing.
“What pole dancing does is teach women how to move differently within a space,” says Alyson Joy, 25, instructor and owner of Felinity. “You are essentially learning to engineer your body with a prop.” That’s a difficult task even for the most skilled pole dancers.
Joy, who has been teaching professional dance since she was 14, believes women are often too critical of themselves and their bodies.
“What I’m trying to do is teach women how to be more comfortable with themselves,” says Joy.
But before she could do this, she had to learn that lesson for herself. And that lesson came from go-go dancing.
After graduating from the School of Toronto Dance Theatre, she hit the dance floors of several clubs, trying out her unchoreographed go-go moves, only to discover that despite all her dance experience, she was still inhibited when it came to expressing herself in such a sensual manner.
“I realized I hadn’t focused enough on the artistry of my movements,” says Joy, who learned to stop thinking about what others wanted to see and began to listen to her own body. With that in mind she opened Felinity studio last November, where she teaches women the moves to pole dancing, but encourages them to add their own flair.
Somewhere between the time Joy brought Wednesday’s class down onto our knees, teaching us to leisurely move our hips in wide, sensual circles and then up onto our feet, backs against the poles, sliding slowly down with one hand grasping the pole above our heads, I began to find my comfort level. Yet the big confidence boost of the night came when I was able to hook my legs onto the pole and swing around in a move known as the Fire Chick. As I practised the move and added my own variations to it, I began to see it less as a move and more as a conversation between me, the pole and anyone else I might choose to invite in.
For more information on Felinity studio, and the new Felinity Core Sensuality DVD series coming out this fall, visit www.felinity.ca.