Last night was the 2017 Dakini Movement Showcase at Roxy and Duke's. It was the first time the showcase was outside the studio, the first time it was free, and it was my first showcase... no pressure, right?
I was worried. Not about my 40/60 routine (40% choreographed, 60% wing-it), and not about getting stage fright. I was worried that the audience, my audience for the 3 minutes and 20 seconds I was up there would not get what I was trying to do.
Pole Dancing has a stigma. It is a style of dance that started among sex workers as a new way of enticing and exciting their clientele.
(Yes, I know that Mallakamba is a Indian Pole acrobatic spot, but the intent is vastly different)
When I tell people I pole dance, I immediately get the eyebrow raise... and I'm very aware of the multitude of questions that probably run through the person's mind...
"You don't look like a stripper/sex worker..."
"But you're educated!"
"What does your husband think?"
etc. etc. etc.
However, pole dance is also dance. It's expression, it's movement, it's a work out, it's really fucking fun, and it's helped me over come body dysmorphia, self-esteem issues, and self-limiting beliefs.
When I got up on stage last night, I wanted to express the other side of pole. The side that could tell a story, that could express emotion, that anybody and any body could do. A simple, elegant, sweet story of a girl who's found the love of her life.
I did my dance, I had an amazing time. I heard the cheers from the audience, and I thought I must have looked pretty good.
Afterwards, as I was looking for my husband in the audience (see? story telling from experience), I had some girls come up to me and rave about my performance. They wanted to know where I got my outfit (plus size pole fashion is *hard*), and they told me about what they saw in my dance; Peter Pan and Disney Princesses.
That's when I knew that my message was received. People *got it*.
Pole dance is fluid. It can be savagely sexy, it can be empowering and athletic, it can be high-energy fun, or it can be soft and sweet. Like all things in life, what you want out of it depends on what you put into it.
I am so proud by how far I've come in my three years at the studio, that my fear of not being understood was unfounded. This was akin to my first open reading at a Poetry Festival, and realizing that I had some talent with words.
The other girls who performed were uniquely amazing; each had their own style, their own bag of tricks, their own message to convey about what pole dancing meant to them. It was a cornucopia of talent, and I could not be more proud to be part of this community.
There is nothing like the thrill of being so completely understood.
Stephanie Cansian is a rebelliously positive Central Jersey citizen with her husband and their dog.