November 08, 2019
Being pole dancers ourselves, pole is a movement form near and dear to our hearts. We are so excited to share an interview with one of our current inspirational movers. Amy Bond is the Owner and Founder of San Francisco Pole & Dance and Oakland Pole & Dance. When she's not busy running her businesses she's providing legal counsel to those in need and adding her creative voice to many current small business & political topics. We honestly don't know how she does it all.
Exhale Movement: So Amy, what kind of Mover are you?Amy Bond: Pole Dancer/Contortionist/Aerialist/Modern Exotic Dancer.
EM: What motivates you to move?
AB: I've been a mover my whole life. I did competitive swimming and synchro growing up, and ran marathons in law school (running basically a half marathon every day was the only way I could sit 10 hours a day reading and writing). When I discovered pole dancing, it felt like a physical awakening. Like this is what I was called to do with my life. And now I get to do it. <3
EM: What are your go-to warm-up and cool down rituals?
AB: Core work. Free dance. Shoulder mobility. A lot of rolling around on the floor. I try to roll my lats on a peanut at the end of every power pole workout but sometimes I get lazy.
EM: Who has previously or is currently inspiring you in movement? And why?
AB: Olga Koda (@olgakoda ) holds the key to my heart. Everything about her power and dynamism and storytelling electrifies me. I got the opportunity to go train with her in Russia last May and am going to organize a pole dance retreat next July to go back to St. Petersburg and Moscow to do it again.
EM: Can you tell me about a favorite movement moment you experienced and what made that moment so special?
AB: I always love the end of my choreography classes. Often, especially with daylight savings and the sky turning dark so early, folks show up from class sometimes looking a bit zombied after staring at computer screens all day. 75 minutes later, after we're all sweating our faces off, breaths heavy from the cardio of running the choreography, and grins so wide they look dumb on our self-satisfied faces, I often have folks end by sitting/kneeling in a circle. I have everyone make a sound of how they feel *right now*. No words, just body vibrations. Usually everyone's is different but there are a lot of YIPS! and WHEEEEs! and AIYIYIs!
EM: What is one thing you never go to the gym/studio without?
AB: Camera for filming movement, Peanut for tissue prep, Instagram for inspo, Pole Friends! because they are literally my heart and soul and half of what I love about pole and the pole community generally, Foam Roller and sometimes even my Hypervolt to bang the shit out of my hip flexors.
EM: What does diversity and inclusion in your movement practice mean to you?
AB: Diversity and inclusion in my movement practice is about doing the thing that is counter to what the conventional wisdom tells you to do. For instance, 'fluidity' seems to be a holy grail that many of my private lesson and choreography students are reaching for. But what if we decided to make it not fluid? Who decided that's the 'right' way to move anyway? What if we danced jerky or contrasted or unfluid - would that create interesting movement? Another example; all those t-shirts that say 'Point your f*cking toes'. What if you don't? What if you go against the grain and didn't point your toes but just intentionally flexed all the time or sickled them in a freaky way. The cool thing about our own movement is we get to invent it anytime we make times for ourselves to fuck shit up in the studio. Yes, learn the rules. Practice them. But then the fun part about being a seasoned artist happens after that - you get to choose which rules to keep and which to break. I think breaking the rules in movement is where new, interesting movement happens.
You didn't ask this question but I'm going to answer it. Another thing about diversity and inclusion in studios (rather than being specific to movement) that I learned early on when I opened San Francisco Pole & Dance is that diversity doesn't just happen. You can't just say you're inclusive and diverse and that you support all body sizes and genders and gender-bending and racial backgrounds. You have to bake it into your studio's fabric by hiring for it and talking about it and building every once of the space around it. I learned this the hard way when, at my San Francisco studio, I received an email from a student I really respect and care about. She told me that she wasn't going to come back because we didn't carry T-shirt sizes bigger than an XL. She called me out saying 'you know, you're not practicing what you're preaching'. At first I was pissed off - my attitude was 'who cares about a fucking t-shirt?', but then I realized that she was right. I can't just say 'Hey, this space is for anyone but only size XS-L can wear the shirt'. Hiring teachers with diverse backgrounds is also important. I have four instructors who are black. More black students go to their classes. I have two instructors who are somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum. More LGBTQ students go to those classes. It would be really easy for me to only hire white women who have the traditional, patriarchal look of "hot model" which is actually the financial backbone / growth model of at least one VC funded "boutique" cycling studio. But our studios are explicitly not about losing weight. They are for anyone who wants to feel good in their current bodies and in our Studio Code of Conduct, we ask people not to talk about weight loss in the studio. We're explicitly not trying to help anyone change their body but trying to help them move in the one that they are in.
Photo Credit: Don Curry
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