Pole in Style of the month: Meet Alice from Wonderland

Posted by Mai Phan on

This month pole dancer Alice shares with Pole in Style her story.

1. Tell us about yourself
My name is Alice. I was born in Wonderland but I am currently based in Northern Germany where I work as logistics manager. I have moved around a lot and lived in Northern Italy, Alpine France, Texas, Sydney Australia and a bit in the UK too as I work for a British company (I hope Brexit will be cancelled to be honest). The pretty hanseatic city of Hamburg adopted me since 2008 and I have never left ever since.

I am a very active, person: I have a busy mind and need lots of physical movement. Like many Scandinavians out there, I love being outdoor no matter what the weather is like and can spend hours watching untouched nature, sunsets or ice-floes on the water. I enjoy writing (such as for instance the blog-book: “Hamburg Diaries”), arts and learning new languages.

I have been practicing Karate Shotokan for over 25 years and have discovered another sport I absolutely love: Pole Dance.



2. When did you start pole dancing and how did you get into it?
I started pole dancing in August 2017 as I was visiting a friend over the weekend in Stockholm, Sweden. I took a trial class at North Pole and fell in love with it immediately after the first try.

However, my interest in pole dance dates back to around 2005 or 2006 and it’s a weird one you might think. Back then, I lived in Sydney and badly injured my knee during martial arts training and had to get operated. A friend of mine was poling at Bobbi’s Pole Dance studio and asked me if I wanted to watch his performance as my knee was still recovering. His performance was glittery and fabulous and at the end of it I even hopped on the brass pole for a quick slide-down. Somebody took a picture: I looked happy despite being upset at the injury and all the tough life issues I had at that time. I thought to myself without saying anything to anybody else that one day when I would fully recover, I’d try this pole dancing thing. A few more knee operations later -3 in total and hopefully no more– and with an almost fully recovered left knee, I came out of my introverted shell last year and started looking for pole classes. Ever since the very first day on the vertical bar I knew I was going to fall in love with the sport just as much as I love karate.

What got me into pole was the combination of body and mental control as well as gracefulness of the pole flow and all the different dimensions of this art, from exotic, lyrical, power pole to acro, all with very distinctive character and gravity-defying moves.



3. How did people around you react when they learned that you were doing pole dance?
Actually so far all are really happy for me and ask me about progress pics/videos all the time even though I am a little shy to post too much of my pole progress.

Every now and then, people make jokes about strip clubs but I do not think it’s really a prejudice. It’s more what comes to mind and an excuse for a little harmless joke. I suppose that clearly the sensual and athletic roots of pole will be forever interlinked. I think people recognize there is nothing wrong with the sport having a “little more mojo”, than others, as Austin Powers would say.

Jokes apart, my family and friends love that I pole and have come to my two performances (small choreo performances held at club I train at: “NordPole”)



4. What kind of impact has pole dancing made on you and your life?
I have had a problem with biting my fingers for a very long time. Although the issue hasn’t completely disappeared, it has considerably reduced so I am sure pole has done me some good. I have started to recognize that I need my hands and fingers for the pole and should take better care of my extremities.

From a physical perspective, I can say that the amount of body and mental control required for pole has also improved my karate as core strength is vital in both disciplines. Upper and lower bodies are now feeling more balanced than it used to be even though my now more-buffed-shoulders barely fit in any long sleeved shirt haha!



Alice Pole in Style

5. What are your favorite tricks?
All tricks are my favourite for different reasons and in fact I like to see them in combination as opposed to in isolation. One trick I can do particularly well is the direct extended butterfly, meaning going straight into butterfly not via invert or holding pole with the knees. I think the figure looks really graceful.

Now I also will tell you the truth: sometimes I go to classes and I literally do not know the names of the figures. I also have a feeling that, apart from a bunch of them, there is no standardized name for pole dance figures so I only know names of a few figures.



6. What are your nemesis tricks?
My nemesis trick for the moment is handspring deadlift. I can hold handspring now (on both sides) but I would like to do it without jumping. I think once I get that I will have enough core strength for other advanced strength tricks. While I am keen to continue learning, I also take my time and do not compromise on safety. It’s hard sometimes not rushing into things when you get inspired by many talented people on Instagram or at the club. Olga Karmanski, a really good contortionist trainer, said to me this summer that any progress counts and each of us have individual progress. Greek philosopher Plato once said, “Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.”



7. What are you currently working on? What do you want to achieve?
While an isolated trick can be achieved with enough practice; endurance, transitions, entry, exits and coordination are the hard bit. If you practice a trick in isolation you will eventually get it but will you be able to combine it with other tricks and dancing around it? I think that’s the art of pole and what makes me happy is creating own combinations and transitions and working on it. It’s my first “Alice-made combo” and it’s one full minute on pole so I am relatively proud of it.



8. Who are your pole idols?
I think idol is too big a word for humans. However if we talk about “idols” in terms of people I certainly look up to, I could say my current instructors are my pole idols: Nina and Kathi from NordPole in Hamburg and also Paul from Studio Stellar in Birmingham. They are the people that got me into pole and kept me there even though my busy life does not allow me to train as much as I would like to - unless of course a 36-hours day is introduced soon.

There are also two more people that impressed me with their teaching abilities: Anna-Maija Nyman, whom I have taken classes with North Pole Studio in Stockholm, Sweden and Jakub Kolasa from Leeds Pole Studio whom taught several workshops in Vejle, Denmark. Generally what impresses me about pole dancers is not only their dancing and acrobatic skills but also their teaching methods - how they convey messages, their endless patience and genuine caring end enthusiasm they show for their student’s progress. Pole makes me feel like a child again rediscovering how to climb very slippery chrome trees.



9. Pole dance or sport? What do you think about pole as an Olympics sport?
Like many not-yet-mainstream sports this will remain a conundrum. Pole dance is both, a bit of sultry and athletics and actually in most cases these aspects can be combined. Even choreography that seem “just sexy” are actually difficult and require condition, fitness and control as well as a good level of coordination. I am absolutely in favour of seeing pole in the Olympics. Karate is going to be in it from 2020 so having pole in there too would be a dream come true. If pole makes it at the Olympics, it will surely be more accepted as a sport. However, I sincerely hope the rest of the pole disciplines will not disappear when pole is defined as an Olympics sport.



10. What is the most difficult trick you have ever overcome and achieved?
Strangely enough the twisted ballerina from side climb via cupid is still a difficult one for me. My shoulder muscles are not flexible and I have a hard time loosening up them. For me performing a proper twisted ballerina figure has been a challenge. Also believe it or not I have never learned handstand or headstand as a child so I have literally started to self teach myself at the age of 36. It took two sessions of practice to get the handspring technique but three months to teach myself how to handstand.

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