Body & Pole Featured Aerial Fifty Two and Other Black-Owned Studios From Around the World this Month for Black History Month!

Natasha and Vanessa hosted their signature Bad and Boujee workshop LIVE on B & P Online on Wednesday, February 9th! Prior to the workshop, they had the honor to chat with the Body & Pole Team about their pole journey and vision for 2022. [Check out the Interview below]

Why pole? How did you get into the industry?

Vanessa: I was 16 when I attended a relative’s bachelorette party held at the local pole studio and was amazed at how confident, strong, and graceful the instructors were. I left that event with a newfound admiration for sensual movement and desire to continue to learn more about the sport. I convinced my parents to register me for beginner classes and the love affair began. In 2008 I invested in a home pole, purchased a collection of BeSpun Instructional DVDs, and never looked back.

Natasha: When I was in high school, I saw Jenyne Butterfly on a Facebook video and immediately she became my favorite athlete. When pole reappeared in my life, I was at a strip club for the first time and I was obsessed with how unbothered the dancers were with the effect they had on their audience and how they combined the athleticism of Jenyne Butterfly with clear blatant confidence, I knew it was something I had to do. I was insecure about myself and my body back then and what a revelation it was when I finally started pole.

What inspired you to open your own studio?

Vanessa: As a pole studio administrator for several years, the thought of being a studio owner surfaced from time to time, but I assumed that because I did not compete and had not won any recognized awards, that the pole community would not embrace me as a studio owner. As luck would have it, the opportunity to purchase my local studio emerged at a time where certain aspects of my life were in disarray. I took that opportunity as a sign from the universe to take a risk for once and whole heartedly pursue what had been my passion for the past decade.

Natasha: In my head, I loved pole so much that it was always a dream I had within my first year of starting. The options for pole where I first started were not particularly good for the dance or exotic aspects of pole and the research was already in front of me, so I started writing a notebook full of upfront costs and ideas I had. When I moved back home the opportunity came to me quicker than I imagined (through Vanessa) and my mom told me “Natasha, opportunity does not knock forever. I think you should take it.” And so, I did

Who is your biggest cheerleader/mentor/ who inspires you?

Vanessa: My biggest cheerleader is my sister – often showing me tough love; she never misses a showcase, attends every special event, likes every social media post, wears our branded merchandise and is always excited to tell her friends and peers what her little sister does for a living. Natasha inspires me to continue to do what I love. Watching her work on nemesis moves, drilling choreography, pushing herself day in and day out motivates me to train harder so that I too can be the best dancer I can be.

Natasha: My biggest cheerleaders and mentors are my mom and my boyfriend. Both grew up as and around successful entrepreneurs, have seen all kinds of failure and are willing to help me learn from their experiences. My inspirations in the entertainment industry are Jazzy K, Anastasia Mila, Daphne Lux and Nina Kozub. I love the flows of Jazzy and Anastasia, the musical tastes and sassiness of Daphne and the pure, bad-ass vibe of Nina Kozub. As a business owner, my ultimate inspiration is Taylor Swift. Can you even believe the empire she has created for herself? From her multiple eras to the details in her music, she pays attention to ALL the details of her brand and is not afraid to make bold changes and I have never seen anyone so in control and commanding of their brand. As a business, Taylor Swift is brilliant and all kinds of goals.

What’s kept you going during this pandemic?

Vanessa: The pandemic brought on a lot of hurdles and challenges, but our community of aerialists showed up for us online and were patient with us as we navigated our way through multiple lockdowns. The ongoing support from our dancers and from people who only know us through social media channels reinforced how empowering, positive, and loving the pole community truly is, making this pandemic less infuriating.

Natasha: As a studio owner, it is a little harder to a) make time to train and b) take classes from other instructors. For some reason I feel like there is this pressure that if you are the studio owner, you must be without a doubt, the best of the best and the fact of the matter is that it is hard when you are teaching and then also looking after all the behind the scenes planning and executing. When the pandemic came, a lot of that came to a halt. So, for the first time in a long time, I got to take classes, but not just that, I got to take classes from pole stars I would have never been able to meet until years later or even ever. I grew my skill set so much during the pandemic; I became the best I had ever been, and I will always be thankful for that. It renewed my love for pole because even though I was horribly depressed about the studio being closed due to government mandated lockdown measures (we were closed for 10 months), I got to be a student again and that kept me on my toes as a dancer and as a growing instructor.

What are your looking forward to in 2022?

Vanessa: I am looking forward to continuing to inspire healthy, happy dancers who are ready to dance their way towards a more confident mindset, with pleasers on, of course.

Natasha: In 2022 I want to bring our brand to new highs. It may sound a little bit cocky, but I believe in us, and I believe in myself like crazy. I think anyone who survived this pandemic is a bad-ass and are a force to be reckoned with. We do not need anyone but ourselves to be better than yesterday and in 2022, nothing can stop us. We are going to crush it. On a less cheesy note, I am STOKED for the restrictions and pandemic to hopefully be lifted in Canada. I just want to live my best life with my pole squad, throw awesome limitless showcases and grow the family.

 

Body & Pole is the largest Pole and Aerial Dance studio in New York City, offering the experience of intimate classes with world-renowned instructors. Show them some love when your in NYC next!!

In the Spirit of Black History Month: Vanessa’s Experience as a Pole Dancer of Colour

Growing up and living in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), I was exposed to a multitude of diverse communities and never once felt like an obvious minority, until I started pole dancing. I recently celebrated my 10 year pole -versary and reflecting back to when it all started, I realized that the first 5 years of my pole journey, across the dozens of pole studios I took classes at, amongst the hundreds of students and instructors I danced alongside, I was always the only person of color in the room. Although this bothered me, I assumed that maybe women of color just did not want to deal with yet another stereotype, they just did not want to bother with the stigma that comes with pole dancing… that we’re all strippers. I absolutely love and am inspired by exotic dancers and I think that they are definitely the reason why pole dance is as recognized and accepted as the amazing art form that it is today; but having to constantly justify one’s fitness choice is exhausting.

“Oh, you pole dance? I bet you can twerk in a split? Can you do a little dance for me?”
These were common responses I would receive from both men and women when I disclosed that I participated in pole dance for recreation. Nonetheless, I have always been proud to be a pole dancer. I find joy in watching a person’s arousal quickly turn into bewilderment when I explain that I participate in pole dance classes simply to reclaim my sexuality, develop my self esteem all whilst getting stronger and more defined muscles in the process. It is an empowering feeling to gently deconstruct their misogynistic perceptions of pole dance and to change the conversation to a more positive representation of the strength and discipline that is required for the sport. What would have been even more empowering though, is seeing my own race and body type represented in the classes I took.

Curvy, women of color were largely underrepresented at all of the studios I had attended and the popular women in the pole industry (those who won the competitions, ran the competitions, owned the pole studios) were, up until recently, predominantly young, slim, athletic/muscular white women. I used to think to myself, “I can’t possibly be the only minority in Mississauga who is obsessed with pole dance. Where are others like me hiding? How do I get them to take the risk and try something new despite the stereotypes and stigma?” Fast forward to the creation of Black Girls Pole, I had finally found an online community of minorities from all over the globe who shared my passion for pole dance and it ignited my desire to create a safe space for the marginalized and underrepresented men and women in my community who were just as passionate about all things aerial. I began to train more often, with hopes of becoming an instructor so that I could grow my following and eventually open up my own studio/ safe space. My hard work had eventually paid off when I was offered the opportunity to own and operate my local dance studio. With the help of my pole sister Natasha, Aerial Fifty Two was born – the first and only black-owned / minority-owned studio in the Greater Toronto Area. Natasha was one of the first other minorities I encountered in a pole dance class and I remember doing a little happy dance because that had been the first time in a long time that I was not the only person of color in the room.

Aerial Fifty Two continues to be an inclusive space for all people to participate and feel included. We do not discriminate by gender, sexuality, ethnicity, job, religion, politics etc. All are welcome as long as hate and violence do not come into the studio. We are powered by diversity, we are strengthened by our differences and we are eternally grateful for everyone who continues to support Aerial Fifty Two as we continue to exceed expectations.

Show Your A52 Pride

At Aerial Fifty Two we believe it is our responsibility to keep our squad up to date with the latest developments in aerial arts, music, food and drink, but never more so than now. In the current, unsettled climate, we will always keep you informed of the latest pole trends, hottest clubs, bars and restos and news from around the globe.

Speaking of bars and restos, Mississauga will soon be in phase 2 and the squad is excited to kick off patio season. El Mariachi Tacos And Churros anyone??  The weather is warmer, the days are longer and Mercury’s not in retrograde so we hope you’ll RSVP yes when those evites go out. More importantly, June is LGBTQ Pride Month and this year we’ve been using our online studio to raise funds for the Rainbow Railroad and #Sayhername. Can you imagine living in fear of persecution, torture or murder for the color of your skin or because of who you love? That is a reality for so many LGBTQI individuals and women of color around the world, and organizations like the Rainbow Railroad and #Sayhername help hundreds of individuals find a path to safety to start a new life. So log into MindBody, purchase a donation class, Virtual Memberships or a $5 Outdoor class [outdoor schedule will be announced as soon as Mississauga enters phase 2] Not only will your purchase go towards two movements that solely focus on the protection of our basic human rights, but you’ll get a great workout in at the same time!

Quick Pole History & Why Aerial Fifty Two is a Trail Blazer

Pole dance and fitness started way before JLo at the 2020 Super Bowl. The use of pole in a fitness capacity can be traced back to over 800 years ago in India with the use of Mallakhamb and Chinese Poles. Mallakhamb involves the use of thick wooden poles to perform acrobatic and yoga-inspired tricks; whereas Chinese Poles, 20-foot-high silicone or powder-coated, allow performers to complete their climbs and inversions fully-clothed.  Pole performances have since taken on various styles ranging from lyrical/contemporary to theatrical and exotic. The rise in pole dance fitness studios started in the 90’s in the U.S, as strip club entertainers wanted to fuse acrobatic tricks in their erotic live performances.

Fast forward to March 2019, Aerial Fifty Two, a hidden gem among pole studios, is born. Aerial Fifty Two is the premier destination for all things alternative fitness in Mississauga with classes ranging from pole dance and tricks, strength conditioning, flexibility, aerial silk hammock and aerial hoop (also known as lyra). Founded by pole sisters Natasha and Vanessa, the studio is recognized as a safe space for all people to participate and feel included. As one of the only pole studios in Canada that is owned and operated by visible minorities, this dynamic duo regularly promotes diversity and embraces community – regularly giving back to various charities including Essence of Mind, Say Her Name and The Rainbow Railroad. Their community of dancers share a passion for health and wellness and a desire to embrace their inner erotic beast. These boss babes have swapped the boring, traditional gym workouts for a variety of in studio and online classes that are guaranteed to improve core and upper body strength and overtime, define the muscles in the entire body.  The studio is also available as an event venue hosting everything from pole, chair, twerk, to burlesque or heels dance. Bachelorette party? Birthday party? Girls Night Out? Just because? They’ve got you covered!

Read this entire blog post? Use promo code A52blog for 10% off your next purchase ;)

Go to Top