1. How long have you been pole dancing for, and what got you started?
I have been pole dancing for 4 years as of March. I had heard of pole fitness through a women’s magazines and the odd newspaper article, but seeing a YouTube video of Anastasia Sokolova performing to “Tainted Love” on Ukraine’s Got Talent prompted me to Google search “edmonton pole dancing’ – and here I am!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sVCZ8GsLTU (routine starts at 2:30)

2. What do you find most challenging about the sport of pole?
Besides the actual physicality of pole: managing expectations. Often I will catch myself or my students comparing our progress against other students, other instructors, other pole stars on Instagram… it’s very challenging to shut out that critical inner voice and focus solely on your own progress! We truly are our own harshest critics. But it is so crucial to remember that we each have our own strengths and weaknesses, and that we progress at different rates. It’s what makes our pole journeys uniquely our own!

3. What do you find to be the most exciting aspect of pole?
Can I answer this twice?

1) Being a part of the student’s journey: seeing them get stronger, seeing them struggle, seeing them obtain their goals and make new ones, and seeing the mentality shift from “I can’t” to “I will” and “I can” I LIVE for those moments!
2) The evolution of the sport itself. Pole is expanding so rapidly, with new combos and transitions and holds – there is always something new to learn, and there is always a new way to teach it!

4. Who are your pole inspirations and why? 
Each of instructors at Aradia take the cake first and foremost. The talents of my colleagues are jaw-dropping, and the work they put in to develop their teaching skills is inspiring. (Special shout-out to the instructors who taught/subbed/inspired me when I was a student: Nyleen, Tina, Tasia, Erica, Jessi, Rachelle, Jen, Teryn, and Mel – I would not be the instructor I am today if not for you. Thank you!)
My other inspirations include: Anna-Maija Nyman, Lorenza Perrone, Tiffany Rose Mockler, Anastasia Sokolova, Sydney Claire, Julie Chapple, Sonja Sloane, Rebekah Mullen, Tara Myer, Dakota Fox, Lisa Corah, Nadia Sharif, Heidi Coker, Maddie Sparkle, Michelle Shimmy, Magnus Labbe, Aggie Ng, Rafaela Montanaro, Olga Koda, Tito Jane, Jordan Kensley, Bailey Day, Samantha Star, Felix Cane, Jenyne Butterfly, Daria Che, Philippa Rasidi, Sergia Louise, Steven Retchless, Phoenix Kazree, Cleo the Hurricane, Amy Hazel, Natasha Wang, Dirdy Birdy…

5. Describe your pole style and how it resonates with you
I would say that my style varies, but sexy is my favourite. I was bullied for many of my teen years and had horrible self esteem as a result, thinking that I was undesirable and not sexy. Coming to pole, developing strength, and embracing the sensual side of it helped to increase my confidence and feel more comfortable expressing my sexuality. Now I can say “I feel sexy” because of how I feel when I dance, and how that feeling follows me outside of the studio.
6. When people tell you that they don’t feel strong enough, or sexy enough for pole, what is your advice for them?
That it does NOT come over night (!!!) and it comes at different times to different people. Much like how strength takes time to train and develop, “sexy” needs practice! I rarely have students feel comfortable with wandering hands during their first class of Pole 101, and the first time I wore Pleasers, I stumbled about like newborn gazelle until I found my footing.

My advice would be to take it slow and take the time to learn to like the way that YOU dance; not the other people in class, not the instructor, but YOU. Practice at home or any environment you feel comfortable in: put on some of your favourite music and set some mood lighting, and learn how your body wants to flow to the music. I had to practice my hip circles in front of the bathroom mirror with the lights dim (and often after a glass of wine or two) multiple times before they began to feel fluid! The more often you practice, the faster the strength will develop and the more comfortable and natural the movement will begin to feel.

7. You also teach Aerial Yoga – tell us more about that! Can it benefit pole movement as well?

I’m biased, but I think that everyone – ESPECIALLY POLE ATHLETES – should do aerial yoga! The hammock can be used to make poses easier or more challenging, to deepen further into a stretch, to decompress the spine by inverting, for strength and cardio training, and to introduce people who have no aerial experience to the world of circus and fitness.
In regards to pole movement, it is a fantastic way to cross-condition. Many of our moves on the pole (and aerial hoop) transfer to the hammock (helicopter = straddle back; meat hook = meat hook; outside leg hang = gazelle; bird’s nest=bird’s nest, etc.), and the support of the hammock can help us get into positions that we struggle with in pole. We can also condition for climbing, inverting, flips, pull ups… and of course it is a great way to stretch out those sore, tight muscles, and help to achieve our flexibility goals!

8. You’re talented at creating choreography – tell us your tips and tricks for getting started on a piece.
I have a variety of techniques that I’ll use depending on the piece and any creative blocks I come across:
  • Listen to the song and visualize what movements suit the music, plan a rough draft of choreography – I write a LOT of stuff down – and then try to perform what I have imagined. Very rarely can I dance what I have planned, but it gives a nice backbone to a piece.
  • Video myself freestyling to the song multiple times, seeing what sequences I naturally want to do at certain points in the song (if any), and then noting what I like or what felt good when I watch the playback.
  • Taking a favorite combo and seeing how I can add to or restructure it to make it new, and fitting it into the choreography.
  • Emulating combos I’ve seen in videos that I’ve saved on Instagram or Facebook – I normally can’t do most of what I see the pole stars doing, so I ‘fall’ into variations that are new to me.
  • Write a bunch of moves on little scrap pieces of paper, toss them in a hat, and then draw a select number (normally 3-5) – in whichever order I draw them, that is the order I challenge myself to perform them.

The important thing is to get started! The sooner you start your piece, the more time you have to practice, perfect, and make changes as needed.

9. If you were no longer able to pole dance, what is one thing you would still be able to take away from your pole journey thus far? 

Aside from crippling depression because I can no longer pole dance? I would say I’d take the friendships I’ve made with my colleagues and my students; a love for fitness and what my body can accomplish; and (cheesy as it is) the knowledge that I can accomplish great things if I apply work hard and consistently.


You can find Lisa teaching classes at Kingsway on Thursday evenings! (And Wednesdays at St. Albert too!)