Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Interview: Michelle Stanek Winner of Polesque
Where are you from and what is your pre-pole dance background?
I spent my childhood and rebellious teenage years dancing with a "pre-professional" ballet company in PA. I turned to modern in college and worked with Tere O'Connor, Todd Rosenlieb, Gabriel Masson, Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig. I still perform modern (and the occasional hip hop when encouraged) in NYC.
How did you get into pole dancing, how did you learn and what do you like about it?
My old co-worker and fellow sassy dance enthusiast Kelly McLaughlin roped me into Crunch pole classes. Never looked back. Thanks Kelly!
How would you describe your style?
Sassy McNasty VonMelty
What inspired you to become an instructor?
I'm big on imparting knowledge and skills to others. I do what I can to have a positive effect in the world, one pole dancer at a time.
Where do you teach art history?
Pratt Institute and I lecture in Italy every summer on St. Francis, St. Clare, Giotto, fresco technique and give tours of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. This year, I'll be working Naples and/or Pompeii into my lecture-tour-repertoire.
Unfortunately, I am quite sure that none of my Art History professors at Pratt were pole dancers.What is one of your favorite pieces of art and why
Oh jeez. I'm gonna go with the Nike of Samothrace (in the Louvre) I weeped when I saw it atop a flight of stairs in Paris when I was 20. Her movement is so powerful and graceful. It's so dramatic. And grandiose. And old. And now headless. I also have a thing for decapitation-subject-art (like anything to do with St. John the Baptist's head or Holofernes). I also cant get enough Jenny Saville paintings. So luscious and sometimes gory. And don't get me started on Italian Baroque sculpture and painting...Anyway, as a professor and person living in NYC, I appreciate contemporary and modern art, of course, but I love art that can also teach you something about history, religion, mythology, politics. This is where the imparting of knowledge comes in again.
Nike of Samothrace was one of the inspirations for the PoleRider logo. Do you ride a bike? If yes, What kind?
I rode a hybrid, but it got stolen out of my apt building landing. I felt so violated. :-(
So sorry to hear that but don't let it stop you from riding! Tell us about the work your brother does.
WELL my older brother is a cyclist-extraordinaire. He just rode his bike across the whole country, camping gear attached, was a messenger in NYC and directs Bike Shorts Film Festival and the awesome and generous Cranksgiving Bike Race. I have mucho respect for cyclists and am always on the lookout for them when crossing the street. But I hate the snot rockets. Why do that have to do that?! And I wish cabs and bikes could just get along. Be careful out there cyclists!!!!! (I worry)
What did you think when you first heard about PoleRiders? How did you hear about it.
I think I first learned about it from stalking Marlo, then Ariel, now Kat. My brother also hired PoleRiders to perform at a Bike Polo tournament. Worlds colliding. I remember seeing it in Union Square a while ago and thinking...oh, only in NYC...now do a trick girl! (now I know better)
Would you like to be a PoleRider?
Great! we will schedule you for a PoleRider tatoo. What are 3 or more cool websites you would like to share with readers. (Any topic)
ChefMD.com (I'm trying to cook better meals for myself)
funnyordie.com (Favorite: Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis and Brad Cooper/John Hamm)
bodyandpole.com (NYC's hottest new pole studio!!)
What is your ideal vacation activity and destination?
I want to ride a camel in Egypt. Also, Bora Bora, where I would stay in one of those cottages out in the blue water (like in the movie Couples Retreat, which kinda sucked) and there must be lots of topless sunbathing, sexy time, hiking, swimming, snorkling, rip lining, biking, star gazing, skinny dipping. I like action-adventure-sexy-time-relaxing vacations!
Please describe your experience competing in Polesque.
SO. MUCH. FUN! All the girls are my friends and we love each other and pole dancing and it couldn't have been a more supportive and hilarious experience. From swapping pasties and sharing moves to dancing to Britney Spears in the dressing room, it was a blast. And having people clap, cheer, scream and stomp the floor in applause for me was probably one of the most exciting moments ever! Thanks everyone!
Tell us about your pole classes and where you teach.
I teach at Crunch Gyms (Mondays 6-7 @ John St., Tuesdays 8-9 @ 59th St., Wednesdays 7:15-8:15 and 8:15-9:30 in Park Slope) and also for Body & Pole whenever needed. Even when I am ty ty as hell, going to Crunch to teach a pole class is guaranteed to rev me up. It's hard to monitor everyone's level and capability. But, I am always there to help get students to their next level. I can't stress "baby steps" and proper technique enough. It took me 3 months to climb the pole, the RIGHT way and maybe close to a year to chopper, the RIGHT way. It ain't easy ya'll! Plus, you must master the body roll and booty pop in my class. And point your damn toes. No exceptions.
What are your current favorite songs to dance to?
Ha. "Father Figure" by George Michael, "Call My Name" by Prince and "Piggy" by Nine Inch Nails. Also into Peaches.
What is your favorite food?
Authentic Italian pasta and wine
If you could spend 24 hrs with any person from past or present history who would it be and what would you do with them?
From the past, my aunt Helen, my mom's sister. We never met. And I think she's an awesome lady.
What do you do for fun when you're not working?
Seeing as how I just got laid off, I pole dance for fun! I guess it is also "work." I have amazing friends and I like to do dumb shit like order pizza and play drinking games and just sit around and laugh with them. I love to put on a fancy outfit and go dancing. I like to travel (Miami is such a great winter get away!). I like to read about art and go to museums. I like to explore the city. I also like long walks on the beach at sunset. And Cranium never gets old.
Is there anything else you would like to add.
I'm just really grateful for these opportunities and for the unexpected blessing of starting my dance "career" at 30. Pole dancing has brought so much to my life. I've never felt stronger, sexier and I've met the most AMAZING friends I ever could have asked for.