Pole dance like there’s nobody watching

Katie Kowalski arts@ptleader.com
Posted 11/22/16

Working out wasn’t working out for Karen Anderson.

She’d tried kettlebells, running, Brazilian jiujitsu and more, but she kept straining her back and hurting herself.

On a whim, she tried …

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Pole dance like there’s nobody watching

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Working out wasn’t working out for Karen Anderson.

She’d tried kettlebells, running, Brazilian jiujitsu and more, but she kept straining her back and hurting herself.

On a whim, she tried pole dancing.

“When I started, I had this very specific image of Gene Kelly twirling on a lamppost; that’s all I wanted to do,” Anderson said, referring to the American dancer, actor and singer of 1952 “Singin’ in the Rain” fame.

“You know, like Gene Kelly in booty shorts.”

Now, more than two years later, the 41-year-old Port Townsend woman has yet to suffer an injury from pole dancing, and said the workout has helped her to love her body and appreciate its full potential.

“Nothing’s been able to click with me and make me stay with it as long as this has,” Anderson said.

POSITIVE FEEDBACK

Because of the stigma that surrounds pole dancing, Anderson said she didn’t tell anyone about the weekly class she attends at Dolphin Dance in Port Orchard – apprehensive about how it might affect her friendships and her job.

This spring, she performed in her first studio recital, overcoming anxiety about dancing for an audience. That performance motivated her to come out about it to her friends.

“I have not had one negative reaction,” Anderson said. Instead there’s been an “overwhelming amount of really positive feedback.” Now, people ask her how she does it and tell her how strong she looks.

In October, she again faced her fears, dancing at the Seattle Erotic Art Festival.

WOMEN HELPING WOMEN

While there is a sexual element to the dancing, Anderson said, everybody takes what they want from the class.

“There are definitely advantages in the sexual world to learning how to do this, but I would say that pole dancing is so much more than that,” she said.

Building camaraderie among women is a core goal of the studio she attends.

“It feels like there’s this big movement right now about how women need to lift each other up and stop tearing each other down,” she said.

“It feels like this group is all about that. Everybody seems to have this same attitude of ‘We’re all there to help each other and empower each other and support one another.’”

The studio welcomes women of all ages and body types, and at the end of each class, everyone shares something they love about themselves or something positive they learned.

Anderson compares this to a brain-retraining exercise.

“If you start looking at the positive things all the time, those start to become the things that you notice first,” she said.

Anderson would love to someday see a studio open here in Port Townsend, and to find a way to afford the teacher training necessary for her to run it.

For now, she practices on a personal pole she has set up, and keeps traveling to Port Orchard.“I just look forward to it every single week.”

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