Get to know your Instructors: Nate James

Everyone has a “Pole Story” in what brought pole into their lives and how pole has helped forge their path. Here we will be sharing those stories and answers to questions that all of you want to know about your favorite Oakland Pole and Dance instructors and how they got to where they are today.

NATE JAMES

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What does your training bag look like? What are the things you never leave home without when you go to train? 
My vibrating foam roller and peanut!!


What are your favorite things to do in your warm up? 
Active Flexibility drills to get my body open and warm and ready to werk!

Right before you go onto to stage to perform what  do you do to get hyped up? 
I still get butterflies every time I perform, so, I like to ground and center myself with a little self-affirmation meditation.

How many takes does it really take for the awesome videos that you post on Instagram?
Omgoddess! Like, 100 at least!! Like everyone, I’m perfectionist and it’s NEVER perfect! Even the videos I post, usually, I’m like, “Well, hopefully no one notices! 🤷‍♂️”

What is your favorite trick that you like to do on the hoop?
I anything spinning super fast! My favorite position, however, would have to be inverted Bird of Paradise.


What inspires you most? 
I’m inspired by so many things! My students inspire me to be innovative and look at things with new perspectives, my incredible friends inspire me with their dedication to their craft and determination to succeed, I’m inspired by nature and all her beauty, and also human interactions and the connections we all share. 

What move has given you the worst bruise? 
My worst bruise every come from stretching actually! I was being pushed in an over split and tore my hamstring and the whole back and inside of my leg was black and blue for weeks!!

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What has been your favorite aerial/pole performance? And why? 
Rachel Strickland’s “Petri Dish” act was probably the single most inspiring moment that led me to want to make art and perform it and tell stories with my work.

Who is your biggest aerial/pole crush. 
Ugh this is soooo hard!!!! Pole-Seanmichael Rau Lyra-Rachel Strickland/Sylphie Ariella/Stephanie BaileyRope-Alex AllanSling-Dan SaabStraps-Patrick Wood/Elena SandersTissue-Leela MasuretJust to name a few! 

What is the most difficult thing about keeping up with your training? Most rewarding?
Learning new skills! I get so comfortable with my same old tricks I rarely go outside my comfort zone and learn new things. The most rewarding is how much better I feel when I keep up with training in my body, mind, and soul.

How are you trying to shape aerial/pole arts as it is emerging as a more mainstream form of fitness?
By trying to help my students be mindful, form good training habits, and learn to listen to their bodies by developing a deep mind/body connection.

Would you ever date another aerialist? 
Absolutely!

How long does it take you to choreograph a piece? 
It varies depending on the theme. Sometimes it takes an hour other times it can takes months!

Do you do cross-training on other apparatuses as part of your conditioning? Pole, pilates, etc. How much time do you train outside of aerial/pole? 
Soooooo much! I’m a firm believer in cross training I spend at least half my training time doing things outside of my aerial training.

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What was the first trick you got on pole/aerial? 
My first “big” trick was a salto-star drop on aerial rope/tissue

How much time do you put into flexibility training per week? 
I spend at least 2-3 hours 6 days per week (total=12-17hrs/week) on flexibility training as I said it’s not something that comes easy for me so I have to really work to maintain it.

Get to Know your Instructors: Kissy Wan

Everyone has a “Pole Story” in what brought pole into their lives and how pole has helped forge their path. Here we will be sharing those stories and answers to questions that all of you want to know about your favorite Oakland Pole and Dance instructors and how they got to where they are today.

KISSY WAN

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What are your favorite things to do in your warm up?
I love to warm up my back and hip flexor since I’m very flexible. I should be working on my upper back and shoulders.

Right before you go onto to stage to perform what do you do to get hyped up?
“Just have fun and breathe!” All my worst fears and things that could never happen pops into my head and I have to push them out of my mind. When I hear the crowd cheer, I black out, perform, and talk to myself the whole time I’m on stage.

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How many takes does it really take for the awesome videos that you post on Instagram?
Besides the hours of training and warm up, it takes 2-3 shots before my body says I’m done! If it’s something on the fly I’m screaming “point your toes, straight legs, and give face”

What is your favorite trick that you like to do on the hoop?
I love a good fang!

How do you choose your music for your performances?
I try to narrow down a category (drama, sexy, fun, etc) and then pick a handful of songs that I’ll listen to on repeat for a week. One of those is bound to “be the one” where I can create a character, story, theme, and tricks around it.

How long does it take you to choreograph a piece?
Maybe an hour or 2 for a rough draft? hoping I videoed myself. I have TONS of videos of me doing the same thing to make sure they’re clean. About 2-3 months complete a piece depending on when I start and how much I’ve visualized what I can do. I like to blast the music really loud and let it flow through my body. I want the audience to see and feel the movement through the beat or lyrics of the song. I want them to feel the same emotions I do when they listen to the song.

Do you do cross-training on other apparatuses as part of your conditioning? Pole, pilates, etc. How much time do you train outside of lyra?
Pole is my first love- it gave me confidence and strength I would have never found without it. Different types of dance (even if it takes me forever to get the count!) you never know what new stuff you can learn and apply in a performance! I went to a workshop with Yanis Marshall and it was amazing! I also have a group who I train with- we call ourselves “freaksquad”. I binge train 1-2 days a week for a couple hours and soft training the rest of the week (showing my students skills on my bad side when I teach).

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How much time do you put into flexibility training per week?
I use to religiously go to flexibility once a week for active flexibility, but stopped when the class switched time that didn’t work for me. I try to keep working on flexibility whenever I can and take workshops from Micah whenever he’s in town. I rely a lot on my bendy back, but I know I need to work on my shoulders....

What does your training bag look like?
A pair of heels, kneepads, deodorant, grip for pole, pole shorts, water bottle, phone, and I always need my bra (Bloombras keeps my girls lifted and not squished!).

What makes your training better?
I love training with people, even if we goof around, we always push each to try harder the next time.

Get to Know Your Instructors: Angel Marie

Everyone has a “Pole Story” in what brought pole into their lives and how pole has helped forge their path. Here we will be sharing those stories and answers to questions that all of you want to know about your favorite Oakland Pole and Dance instructors and how they got to where they are today.

ANGEL MARIE

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Here are the questions we asked Angel Marie….


What does your training bag look like? What are the things you never leave home without when you go to train?
 
I feel like I have a Mary Poppins training bag filled with so many goodies! Thereaband, Rubberbanditz, massage stick, a variety of balls for rolling out, knee pads, hair ties, chapsticks, leg warmers, Dry Hands, Tite Grip for before the Dry Hands, and probably a few tank tops, sports bras, or other items I changed into or out of and forgot to take out. Whoops!

 Right before you go onto to stage to perform what  do you do to get hyped up?
No lie, I'm usually listening to "Lose Yourself" by Eminem in my oversized headphones. Hooded Hip Hop ninja over my rhinestoned two-piece.

 
What inspires you most? 
The music and the stories I want to tell. Most of the tricks I know are because I had them visioned to fit to a particular part of a song that I was choreographing and said, "How do you do that thing where..." with some descriptor like, "Its an explosive kicky windmill thing! You know?!"


How long does it take you to choreograph a piece? 
3-4 months. Between learning new tricks, deciding on pole passes, adding in the floorwork, dance breaks, and musicality bits, then reworking each pole pass 2 or 3 times (minimum) then finally getting to the point where my body can manage to do it all without gassing out! I always forget how long the particular stamina training for each piece takes even past the choreographing and memorizing.


 How many takes does it really take for the awesome videos that you post on Instagram?
Mine aren't all awesome and I LOVE posting fail videos leading up to the success! It is important to remember that we all share the same frustrations along the way.


 What are your favorite things to do in your warm up? 
Shoulders, shoulders, shoulders, shoulders... shoulders. Small circles forward, small circles backwards, field goals up and down for the rotator cuff, and arm waves. And when I do my own personal training warm-up, plank push-up shoulder shrugs and thereaband stretches holding the band shoulder width apart and engaging shoulders to lift the band up and over the head backwards and forwards

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 What are your favorite accounts to follow on Instagram
@polelols all the way! And I love following hashtags of moves that I want to try. Learning that you can put #pd in front of any pole move name and see all of those posts... Changed. My. Life. #pdbutterfly #pdhandspring #pdshouldermountvariation


 What does your cool down look like? 
Sitting in simple stretches like a butterfly or pidgeon while scrolling, clipping, and posting my training footage from the day :)


What is the most difficult thing about keeping up with your training? Most rewarding? 
The most difficult part for me is my bodies ability to recover and keep up with my daily full-time dancing and fitness profession, teaching sometimes 30+ hours a week, then still having the ability to train more myself between being fatigued, sore, and overworked. Listening to my body and resting when it needs it is SO important and I am not good at it. 

The most rewarding, as so many would agree, is seeing your body do something that it could not do before or that you may have even thought was impossible. It makes you feel like you can take on the world!


What do you have coming down the pipeline in the future that’s exciting and you like to share? 
At the end of June I will be traveling to my hometown in Pennsylvania and competing in Philly for my 12th pole competition. AND... my dad is coming :) This will be his first time watching me compete.

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Thank you Angel for chatting with us and we are so excited to have you as part of our Oakland Pole and Dance Family!!


Follow Angel at @vertical_angel



Have you thought about competing? Considered it but didnt know where to start?

Your journey starts HERE. It starts NOW!

Pole Sport Organization (PSO) offers competitions for every level across the globe throughout the year and is coming to San Francisco for yet another amazing event on August 10th and 11th. Yay!!

Let's step back a second. Yes, We have heard so many students say that they wanted to compete but did not feel "good enough" or "ready". That they wanted to wait until they have been poling longer, until they got better at dancing, or until they had more tricks under their belts. Sound familiar?

We are here to tell you that there is something for everyone at any point in ones pole journey, I promise. Keep reading.

Pole Sport Org groups its competitors based on age, style of dance, and skill level from even the most beginning of beginners all the way up to the Pro level and you would not believe how supportive they all are of each other! We all share a love of pole and genuinely want to see everyone grow and succeed. Some of our greatest friends today were once our competitors or even still are! And what is perhaps most refreshing, is that the ones at the top have been where you are and want to cheer you on as you share yourself and tell your story.

Now, let's get into those details…

Categories of movement and dance style consist of Championship (where you get scored for difficulty of tricks) and artistic categories including Dramatic, Entertainment, and Exotic where the focus is on stage presence. Choosing your category can be based on what you're good at OR where you feel you need to challenge yourself. There is even Low Flow and Freedance categories!

Divisions begin at Level 1 where there are no inverts! Do you want to showcase those climbs, spins, and poses you are so proud of? Here you go! But now let's say you are a little farther into your journey. In Level 2, you may invert but only low on the pole from standing with your feet on the floor. Scared of heights but ready to show off that beautiful Extended Butterly? This is perfect!

Let's take this a step further. You can invert all over the place but aren't quite ready to take Handsprings to the stage. Level 3 is where it's at! The options of variety are HUGE in this level and it isn't until Level 4 where you are allowed to ever be upside down with 2 points of contact (Oh yeah, POC will become a commonly used term for you). This only applies when inverted, not upright, and is important for Levels 2 and 3.

Finally, maybe you're ready to jump in with the big dogs! Levels 4 and 5 are the Pre-Professional and Professional Qualifier divisions. Just about anything goes! (Except for hanging from the rigs, jumping pole to pole, or off of the stage. So, calm yourself).

Okay, that was a lot of info. PHEW!
Do you have more questions? I bet you do!
Do you need help deciding your level, category, song, or choreography?
Need help editing your music to fit into those little allotted timestamps?

Oakland Pole & Dance has Angel Marie, our very own PSO Unicorn to help guide you through! Send her an email at sarahangel@funkmode.com or send her in Instagram handle @vertical_angel.

Competition is an incredible way to push yourself, document your pole progress, give structure to your creativity and get some AWESOME PHOTOS! There is nothing more rewarding than challenging yourself and measuring up beyond your expectations.

You ready? Let's do this!

Angel Marie  on stage at Pole Sport Organization Competition.

Angel Marie on stage at Pole Sport Organization Competition.

February Jams 🎼🎼🎼!

Hi Oakland Pole and Dance!!

Last month we asked you for your favorite songs to dance to… what is hot for your right now!

Here is our playlist that was recommended by you and your peers:

Oakland Pole and Dance February Jams!

Also, many of you were in love with the music from our Aerial Affair Student Showcase. Here is the playlist from the showcase:

Aerial Affair Showcase Playlist

Keep it Rocking Oakland!!! 🎸

Oakland Pole and Dance Goes to Golden Gate Pole Competition!

Last weekend, Pole Sport Organization (insert line) hosted the 2019 Golden Gate Pole Championship, THE regional event for Bay Area pole dancing.

PSO has created regional competitions around the world that feature many different styles of pole dancing: from Exotic to Dramatic and everything in-between.  In this year's competition 5 dancers took the stage to represent Oakland Pole and Dance!

We caught up with our competitors to ask them what their favorite thing about the competition was and here were their answers. Enjoy!

Raquel Tancioco 

Oakland Pole and Dance Student 

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“My favorite things from the competition are how supportive everyone is, people you don't know are cheering you on and telling you how great your routine went! I also loved seeing the Master/Grand Master's in L1+. So inspiring! I too hope to continue to love pole until I'm old and grey!”

Nicole Oaks

Oakland Pole and Dance Student 

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"I loved the sense of “togetherness” that the competition brings. It was nice to be able to connect with other people that I usually would never get the chance to know. Pole sport brings a lot of different backgrounds, and it’s interesting to find out what brought other people to pole fitness."

Joshuah Aurora Ciafardone

Oakland Pole and Dance Instructor

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"Most of my gigs require me to do sexy numbers which I love, but it was really special for me to have somewhere to do an emotional contemporary dance number with a great audience."

Maxine Anderson

Oakland Pole and Dance Instructor

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"I loved bonding with my fellow competitors during the weeks, days and even moments before we all performed. We had a blast helping each other bedazzle our costumes, talking through technical issues, and coaching/stretching our teammates backstage before going on."

Kissy Wan

Oakland Pole and Dance Instructor

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"I loved all the love and support from all my love ones inside and outside the pole community."



Curious to give competing a try! Well your in luck. In 2019, PSO Nationals Championship will be hosted in the Bay Area in August if you would like your moment in the lights. Oakland Pole and Dance will feature two group routine series and a routine building workshop in July and August specifically geared at those competitions. Can't wait to see YOU break a stilletto on the stage!