Pole fitness classes are a trend that has gained a lot of attention over the past few years, but it’s more than just a fun workout! We caught up with Shannon, co-founder of Ecdysiast to learn more about this unique art form that women (and men) have been rockin’ for hundreds of years. Join us on June 4th for FLOW: body positive dance party with us & the Ecdysiast crew and give it a try yourself! RSVP here.
What is your background? How did Ecdysiast get started?
I’ve worked in a strip club from the age of 18-28. Maybe my favorite past job was when I taught Hip Hop dance for 2 years for K-8 grade children. Ecdysiast started as an idea in 2002 when I realized, while working in strip clubs, what pole does to people and why people, especially women, are drawn to pole. The studio didn’t open until 2008.
When most people think of pole dancing, they immediately think of strip clubs. What’s the relationship between pole dance and stripping?
Pole existed way before strippers, or strippers as we know today. Ecdysiast specializes in Pole (dance), as we know today, which is a coming together of Chinese/Indian pole, contemporary dance as well as exotic dance styles from various international influences, acrobatics, and gymnastics. Some pole dancers like to have sexualized movement in their repertoire (similar to a stripper) which I think is great and part of the draw around pole.
Chinese pole dates back prior to the 12th century and Indian pole is a traditional thing. Indians have been practicing this tradition for eight or nine hundred years. Chinese pole is still practiced today. In fact I teach Chinese Pole to some various troupes and companies in town. I like what the IPDFA has to say about the History of Pole.
I’ve heard you say that in some ways the instructors at Ecdysiast are like life coaches to their students. Can you tell us more about this?
When students tell me how much they love pole and how the studio or their instructor has done more for them than just teach them pole, that is moving and so personal. When we receive letters or every year around the holidays we get cards, saying thank you and how the studio, pole and their instructor has been life saving, I can’t even describe how good that makes us all feel.
Do you use reusable menstrual products? What kind and why?
I do continuous cycling, but when I do “bleed out” every couple months I actually use GladRags! A couple years ago I bought some, and a student also gave me a bunch as a gift. I have the organic ones and and then ones with a Pendleton-style print.
What messages (about body image, dance, etc) do you hope you are passing to your daughter?
She’s 15 years old and is an activist. She has feminist beliefs and ideas about her body and is stands up for spreading a wider view on the standard image of beauty. An image of beauty that knocks down race and gender barriers. She loves dance and spent most of her younger childhood years at Ecdysiast, so her pole ability seems quite natural. She currently takes classes at the studio. I know she knows how good dance is, especially pole dance, because it is manifested in her and she see’s the positive effect in people all around her.
What’s next for you and for Ecdysiast?
I plan to keep building the professional side of the studio, the Ecdysiast Pole Dance Company (EPDC). Our repertoire is growing, but I would love to have the ability in budget and dancers to reach wider audiences. We have been grown out of our space for a while now, and expanding a to larger location will eventually be necessary. I love teaching and directing, I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon, in fact this feels more like the beginning to me.
Make sure to check out the EPDC’s upcoming performance of No Strings Attached this May!