I discovered pole dancing while waiting for my weekly contortion class to start at the Flying Dolls studio, as I observed a diverse group of inspiring women of all ages and sizes giving their all during their pole dancing class, I couldn't help but be drawn in by their infectious energy, strength, and confidence. Although it took me two months to gather the courage to try it out for myself, the determination and strength displayed by those women motivated me to give it a go.
At my first lesson I was warmly welcomed by our pole dancing instructor, Andreana Lemonari, who patiently guided me through the class. The class started with an intense warm-up routine, basic steps around the pole and introductory spins. I soon realized that pole dancing was not as easy as I thought. As someone who had no prior dance experience and was used to sports such as hiking and rock climbing, I felt (and surely looked) clumsy and awkward! Although everything seemed very straightforward, I found it incredibly challenging to coordinate and keep up with the class. Despite this initial struggle, I was so motivated and determined to learn and I knew that I had found a new passion! By the end of the class, I was physically exhausted but mentally energized, as I knew that the rewards of pole dancing would be well worth the effort. So I left the studio with a mixture of awkwardness but also a sense of pride and accomplishment, and I couldn't wait to come back for more.
It has been a year since I started pole dancing, and I have found it to be an incredibly rewarding form of exercise. Although I still struggle with coordination, maintaining my pointe, some tricks remain unachievable, and I often end up with friction burns and bruises, it is all worth it. Physically, I have noticed a significant improvement in my core strength, flexibility, body awareness and expression through movements. Mentally, even during my lowest moments, I remained committed to attending classes, which is something I take pride in. This perseverance has not only resulted in improved self-confidence, but has also allowed me to share wonderful experiences with incredible people. Every successful move, spin, or trick achieved is a personal triumph, and it gives you an incredible boost to keep trying. These moments are always celebrated by Andreana and the "Flying Dolls tribe," as she likes to call us. I have found that the supportive and positive atmosphere of the pole dancing community has been invaluable to my personal growth. Moreover, I have learned the importance of not comparing oneself to others because each individual progresses at their own pace and has unique strengths and weaknesses.
Let me introduce to you my inspiring pole dancing instructor, Andreana Lemonari. A colourful fairy who simply rocks on the pole with her remarkable grace and poise, making every trick and choreography look like a beautiful art form. Her success in pole dancing is a testament to her passion and hard work in the field. What I treasure the most about her is her willingness to share her knowledge to help us reach our goals and her genuine enthusiasm for our individual achievements. She certainly knows how to motivate and encourage us, adjusting her teaching approach to each student's unique pace and abilities. Most importantly, Andreana is a true professional who creates a welcoming atmosphere as soon as you enter her class and offers a safe and supportive environment throughout your pole dancing journey.
Pole dancing is a dynamic and physically demanding form of dance and exercise which, like any other physical activity, it’s best achieved with proper guidance to prevent injuries and ensure maximum benefit.
After making the decision to share my one-year pole dancing journey with the valuable guidance of Andreana, I wanted to share her personal journey and invaluable experiences as a pole dancing instructor, through this interview. I have no doubt that you will find our conversation below just as inspiring and enjoyable as I did!
How long have you been a pole dancer and why did you start pole dancing?
I have been a pole dancer for almost 10 years and a professional pole dancer and instructor for the last 5 years. As a child, I was introduced to classical ballet and other forms of contemporary dancing. While studying Arts in the UK, I took a break from dancing due to my studies and moving to another country. However, after a few years, I felt the need to be active again and started attending gym classes, but felt the need for something more expressive and experimental. I visited a local dance school next to my apartment. When I visited the school, there was no one at the reception desk, so I looked at their bulletin board and saw a flyer for pole dancing. I thought "is this a thing? Like, they actually teach pole dancing? Isn't this for strippers and showgirls only?".
I never knew what lay ahead of me after seeing that flyer. I still remember it! A small paper amongst many on a bulletin board started it all. I went back to my apartment and googled and discovered a whole new world - Pole Dancing was taught and danced as a practice, there were studios, competitions, shows and of course performed professionally by strippers, showgirls and sex workers - But you could learn it without necessarily being a show girl, etc! It was a kind of dance like any other, but with more acrobatic elements! I was blown away, so I started taking classes in a small studio called Pole Secrets in the small city of Maidstone, UK which was only a five-minute walk from my apartment. I never missed a class and quickly became completely hooked. Pole dancing took the stress off my studies, and I discovered a whole new side of myself that I'm still exploring even after ten years. I only took classes for about two months before leaving the UK and returning to Cyprus, where I continued to take classes for a while before becoming self-taught.
What inspires you when you perform?
Although I do not perform as much as I want, when I do, I am definitely connected to the music and to what I am experiencing at that time in my life as a person. I might be going through something and want to express it and that does not always mean a "change" or a "bad time in my life" but it can be anything and those too. Something else that inspires me to perform, something more "technical", is to challenge myself to execute favourite or hard tricks under stress and in front of people. I also have a major stage fright, to the point that I cannot eat before a performance and my stomach is in knots. Although I might be confident in what I do, it is really hard for me to fight stage fright and anxiety. I danced in 3 competitions in Cyprus theaters and the anxiety before going on stage was unbelievable. After a minute on stage, everything disappears. I am alone in my world, feeling free, on the Pole. It is an unforgettable, magical feeling, especially when finishing your performance. But to get to that point of freedom, for me is a walk through hell beforehand.
"Pole Dancing is art and it can become expressive dancing, theatrical, a funny or an entertaining performance or even something to move the audience's heart and soul. When I perform alone at the studio recording myself on my phone, it's still a performance, but of course in my comfort zone. I feel free when I dance on the base of the pole or up in the air. But I love the challenge of performing in front of a live audience and hope to do it more in the future!"
Why do you believe someone should try pole dancing?
Simple! Just because someone should try an activity they never did, something new and challenging! Pole is very challenging but also fun. For each person it is a different experience, so I cannot be very specific. You never really know what it will be like until you try it, like all things!
Do you remember your first class? How did it make you feel?
I do not remember my first class but I remember my first fall from the pole 😃 the move I was trying to do and my instructor, Mada, sending kisses to my ankle that was badly hurt, and said: "That's your trophy for trying so hard, kiss-kiss. Your bruises are your trophies!".
My first experience with Pole Dancing in the UK was both challenging and inspiring, but also took me totally out of my comfort zone especially the fact that I was with my shorts and tank top in a class with other people I did not know. We were also sharing the poles in class, 2 people on each pole - that required teamwork and respect between classmates. I was very self aware because my body was exposed, and I lacked confidence at the time, but I was never judged for anything there. It was a safe space, where everyone was focused on their workout. It was nothing like going to the beach with my Brazilian bikini every summer, this was a totally different experience. I was in my 20s at the time, studying in a different country (and don't get me wrong, I loved my time in the UK!) and had worries of a 24yr old, worries that I no longer have in my 35s. In short, it made me feel AMAZING every time I left the studio, "spacing out" from my time at the university and everything else, I was free, full of energy, wanting to go back and do it again!
What types of pole dance are there?
So many and I might even leave some behind! In short there is: Artistic, Exotic and Sport. These three have extended categories and they can all be combined!
How has pole dancing affected your life?
Pole dancing has affected my life since day one and continues to do so in many ways. I'll try to express this in three points.
When I say "day one," I mean from the beginning when I was searching for an activity during my studies that could help me relieve stress - and Pole Dancing classes did that very effectively. It helped me cope with difficulties in my life at the time while discovering something I genuinely fell in love with. It was a ritual for me, something I did only for myself.
I discovered my confidence both inside and out. I connected with my inner self, abilities, gained body awareness, plus unveiled my sexuality and "sensual" self. I would never picture myself being confident dancing or teaching in front of people with my body being so exposed. I was always shy about everything and not as sociable as I am now. It somehow all worked naturally. But I did it, I let Pole Dancing drive me to where I am today, and in my own way, I discovered so many things about myself. Because of that I wanted to share my passion - I thought it could also inspire others to discover themselves in a way they did not until now. A kind of freedom and expression. I see how my students grow, how happy they are when they achieve something, and that for me as an instructor, is my everything!
Making Pole Dancing my full-time job as an instructor and business owner was not easy, but I had the full support from my family, always. This brings me to my third reason: it led me to quit an office job I could not stand and that was eating me alive. Being a business owner was never one of my dreams either, but somehow I was led to it - and I love managing my studio! Of course, like any job, there are many difficulties, I might make it sound like an "easy dream", but it is tough - and I like to stay busy and do different things besides teaching.
What do you enjoy the most about teaching pole dancing? What are some of the challenges you face when teaching?
What I love and enjoy most about teaching, as I've mentioned before, is seeing how my students grow and feel fulfilled when they achieve something. The joy is shared throughout the class and I feel so proud of them! This is an inspiration for me as an instructor, but also sharing my passion is my main drive.
As for challenges, having different kinds of people in a class is always challenging - meaning having different backgrounds, characters, insecurities, strengths and weaknesses. Women (although I teach men too) in particular are complex and sensitive by nature and that makes it challenging to coexist in a group, for themselves and for me as a teacher too, but I do not mean that in a negative way. My students learn to be in a team with each other while growing, accepting and and cheering each other on. Not everyone is ready, willing or knows how to do that, everyone has a different character, so I try my best to teach them to feel comfortable in my classes around other people and not to be afraid to be themselves fully. I do not accept any discrimination or insults between us or between classmates. I want to create a safe space for everyone. They help me grow as a person and a professional instructor while I help them develop their skills in Pole Dancing. Every person has different ways of learning, what worked for me may not work for someone else, and everyone has a different body type and perception.
So in conclusion, the challenges I face are keeping a balance in my classes between people and also giving individual instructions for this practice - communicating and passing on the ways, techniques and body movements to different individuals. All these challenges are a big part of my role as an instructor but also what I strongly love about my work.
What are some of the most common challenges that your students face? Are there any limitations for a person to start pole dance?
Definitely the first few months are the biggest challenge for my students! But that is just like anything new a person starts in their life, whether it is an activity, a certain practice, a hobby, a new job, the gym, a relationship, etc. They have to adjust to a certain kind of practice that requires patience and testing their limits. Pole dancing is very challenging and easy to fail at first, especially on new moves and exercises. It is a complex practice that requires strength, flexibility, dancing and acrobatic skills all together.
Also a big challenge is letting go of comparing themselves to others. Students who have gymnastic / dance backgrounds tend to understand and execute exercises or movements faster than someone who does not have experience with exercising or dancing. With that said, a person who has not any experience, is naturally comparing themselves to someone who improves faster than them. But that is also a fact according to character and how they understand things. Sometimes people are capable of not comparing themselves to others and that is a great advantage towards progress. If they do compare, sometimes it makes them push themselves more but on the other hand makes them feel disappointed and unhappy. It is a very hard battle to deal with, and I understand it fully because I have been there, but that was when I was in a toxic environment with women who did not support each other. I try my best to create a safe space for my students so they can feel accepted and part of a team. Disappointment and failure is part of growth and I try to pass that on to my students, but it is always hard for them to understand and practice it.
As for limitations for someone to start Pole Dancing, simply, there are none! Of course, there are some medical conditions that do not allow a person to practice it, but those would be serious cases that apply to any kind of exercise.
How can someone reach you?
Tel: +357 99812094