Pole and Performing Art 

Elevating pole dance to new platforms

Article by Jill Taylor

Local Dancer Highlight: 

Taylor Kay

During the years I wasn’t dancing(from 26-39), I always felt a little lost and struggled with finding something to fill that void in a gym and personal training.  Nothing ever compared to my love for the art of dancing.  Now being in my 40’s, poling has transformed my life giving me not only amazing workouts, but training in a non-judgmental environment. The challenges that it brings to my life is the key for me.  There is always something new to learn, to try and keep working until you get it and once you do, it is the best feeling in the world as far as accomplishments go!

Within the past three years, I had to have four surgeries that forced me to change life.  It also reminded me that maybe it was time to go back to doing something I loved and find a different avenue to learn something completely new.  Which brought me to Dollhouse Pole Studios that cold December morning.

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Exploring the Basics

In a class once, my instructor shut off the music and asked us all to get into Chopsticks. She told us to go somewhere and that was all we got for instruction. Our lesson was about innovation. She wanted us all to find a new place to go, transition in a way we hadn’t been taught to do. She was encouraging us to take our own risks rather than always trying to follow the rules, the moves, the poses, or the internet videos. She wanted us to simply be in a pose and see the potential. The value of that one lesson has never faded. The silence permitted a mindfulness that I usually don’t make room for in my life or my pole practice. It reminded me that the simpler you make your practice, the more room you give yourself to create. Focusing on one move and all the places you could go from that one starting position, that’s how you grow the mind of a true dancer.

We all experience frustration in our pole practice. We may feel a sense of plateauing or stagnation at times. When this happens, I abandon (temporarily) the challenging moves I’m training, and I go back to the simple moves. I start with my very first pole lessons. I turn off the music. I step up, I pole up, I pole sit. I relax into these familiar places and stop thinking about what I’m not achieving and think about what I have already achieved. Then I move with careful thought instead of long-practiced transitions. Yes, I want that latest challenging trick, but I want to feel accomplished too and I can do that by going back to the basics and the mindfulness that the silent class taught me.

For some people, creating transitions on their own doesn’t come naturally. My instructor was trying to teach us innovation, and it worked pretty well. I used to tell my students when they were trying to write their first routines that they should take stock of where they are in any moment. Turn off the distractions and feel where your body is supporting you on the pole. Think about what places are gripping and what places are free to move. That’s how you create. You challenge yourself to pause in the moment and see all the places you can go. You ask “What if I turn my hand this way and let go with that leg?” Where do all of our pole moves start? They start with something you don’t even think about anymore. They start with a sit. They start with a pole up. They start with an invert. They all start with the basics. Those basics are your home and they are where you should return when you feel lost or sad or frustrated in your pole practice.
Article by Sara Wielenberg

Hang​ ​in​ ​there:​ ​Recovering​ ​from​ ​injury. 

Those​ ​of​ ​us​ ​deeply​ ​involved​ ​in​ ​the​ ​pole​ ​fitness​ ​world,​ ​either​ ​as​ ​performers​ ​or​ ​instructors,​ ​often involve​ ​ourselves​ ​with​ ​the​ ​topic​ ​of​ ​injury​ ​prevention.​ ​How​ ​to​ ​avoid​ ​over-stretching​ ​the​ ​muscles, the​ ​most​ ​effective​ ​conditioning​ ​regimens,​ ​the​ ​proper​ ​placement​ ​of​ ​the​ ​body​ ​on​ ​the​ ​pole,​ ​and how​ ​to​ ​maintain​ ​the​ ​most​ ​solid​ ​points​ ​of​ ​contact.​ ​What​ ​doesn't​ ​get​ ​discussed​ ​as​ ​often,​ ​is recovery.​ ​How​ ​to​ ​heal.​ ​Even​ ​the​ ​strongest,​ ​most​ ​experienced​ ​poler​ ​is​ ​vulnerable​ ​to​ ​injury.​ ​Most often​ ​it's​ ​an​ ​over-extension,​ ​or​ ​a​ ​strain​ ​resulting​ ​from​ ​repetitive​ ​stress​ ​on​ ​the​ ​same​ ​areas​ ​of​ ​the body.​ ​But​ ​let's​ ​not​ ​forget​ ​about​ ​falls.​ ​I'd​ ​venture​ ​to​ ​say​ ​that​ ​more​ ​experienced​ ​polers​ ​are especially​ ​vulnerable​ ​to​ ​falls,​ ​because​ ​over-confidence​ ​can​ ​lead​ ​to​ ​miscalculation. 

I​ ​took​ ​a​ ​fall​ ​in​ ​October​ ​of​ ​2013.​ ​Rehearsing​ ​a​ ​performance​ ​piece,​ ​I​ ​miscalculated.​ ​While​ ​inverted in​ ​a​ ​forearm-grip​ ​straight​ ​edge​ ​(on​ ​spin),​ ​I​ ​misjudged​ ​how​ ​close​ ​my​ ​feet​ ​were​ ​to​ ​the​ ​ceiling.​ ​My feet​ ​brushed​ ​the​ ​plaster,​ ​which​ ​surprised​ ​me​ ​and​ ​caused​ ​the​ ​pole​ ​to​ ​spin​ ​just​ ​slightly.​ ​I​ ​adjusted my​ ​grip​ ​to​ ​compensate,​ ​and​ ​my​ ​hand​ ​slipped​ ​off​ ​the​ ​pole.​ ​I​ ​tucked​ ​my​ ​head​ ​to​ ​my​ ​chest,​ ​and​ ​did my​ ​best​ ​to​ ​fall​ ​"safely,"​ ​but​ ​gravity​ ​is​ ​an​ ​evil​ ​beast.​ ​I​ ​crashed​ ​three​ ​feet​ ​to​ ​the​ ​carpeted​ ​floor, landing​ ​squarely​ ​on​ ​my​ ​shoulder​ ​and​ ​the​ ​side​ ​of​ ​my​ ​head.  

X-rays​ ​would​ ​reveal​ ​that​ ​I'd​ ​suffered​ ​a​ ​separated​ ​shoulder.​ ​More​ ​specifically,​ ​it​ ​was​ ​an​ ​injury​ ​to the​ ​acromioclavicular​ ​(AC)​ ​joint.​ ​One​ ​of​ ​the​ ​ligaments​ ​holding​ ​my​ ​collarbone​ ​to​ ​my​ ​shoulder blade​ ​had​ ​snapped.

What​ ​they​ ​don't​ ​tell​ ​you​ ​about​ ​injury​ ​recovery,​ ​is​ ​that​ ​it's​ ​not​ ​just​ ​a​ ​matter​ ​of​ ​physical​ ​healing.​ ​It's a​ ​matter​ ​of​ ​overcoming​ ​fear,​ ​disappointment,​ ​and​ ​even​ ​embarrassment.​ ​​I​ ​should​ ​have​ ​known better.​ ​I​ ​should​ ​have​ ​been​ ​more​ ​careful.​ ​I​ ​should​ ​have​ ​been​ ​using​ ​a​ ​mat.​​ ​All​ ​of​ ​those​ ​thoughts barreled​ ​through​ ​my​ ​mind​ ​as​ ​I​ ​sat​ ​sobbing​ ​in​ ​the​ ​ER.​ ​The​ ​pain​ ​in​ ​my​ ​shoulder​ ​was​ ​nothing compared​ ​to​ ​the​ ​devastation​ ​of​ ​being​ ​sidelined,​ ​the​ ​disappointment​ ​of​ ​missing​ ​my​ ​performance, and​ ​feeling​ ​like​ ​I'd​ ​let​ ​down​ ​the​ ​friends​ ​and​ ​family​ ​that​ ​had​ ​taken​ ​time​ ​off​ ​to​ ​support​ ​me. Although​ ​it​ ​would​ ​take​ ​months​ ​for​ ​my​ ​shoulder​ ​to​ ​fully​ ​heal,​ ​it​ ​would​ ​take​ ​much​ ​longer​ ​to overcome​ ​the​ ​memory​ ​of​ ​that​ ​crash​ ​to​ ​the​ ​floor. 
Recovering​ ​from​ ​injury​ ​is​ ​a​ ​slow​ ​and​ ​twisty​ ​road.​ ​Certain​ ​pole​ ​tricks​ ​will​ ​​feel​ ​​different​ ​when​ ​you attempt​ ​them.​ ​It​ ​may​ ​freak​ ​you​ ​out,​ ​but​ ​keep​ ​fighting.​ ​Working​ ​through​ ​the​ ​discomfort​ ​and​ ​fear​ ​is difficult,​ ​but​ ​maintain​ ​patience.​ ​Following​ ​the​ ​doctor's​ ​orders​ ​and​ ​listening​ ​to​ ​your​ ​body​ ​will​ ​be​ ​a struggle,​ ​especially​ ​in​ ​the​ ​early​ ​days​ ​of​ ​injury,​ ​when​ ​you​ ​want​ ​nothing​ ​more​ ​than​ ​to​ ​get​ ​back​ ​on the​ ​pole​ ​as​ ​though​ ​it​ ​had​ ​never​ ​happened.​ ​In​ ​your​ ​weakened​ ​state,​ ​it​ ​could​ ​result​ ​in​ ​an​ ​even more​ ​serious​ ​injury.​ ​The​ ​physical​ ​healing​ ​must​ ​come​ ​first.​ ​Focus​ ​on​ ​conditioning,​ ​and​ ​working tricks​ ​on​ ​the​ ​opposite​ ​side​ ​while​ ​your​ ​body​ ​stitches​ ​itself​ ​back​ ​together.​ ​The​ ​mental​ ​healing​ ​may take​ ​longer,​ ​but​ ​with​ ​determination,​ ​a​ ​slow​ ​and​ ​steady​ ​pace,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​support​ ​of​ ​your​ ​fellow polers,​ ​it's​ ​a​ ​journey​ ​you​ ​can​ ​successfully​ ​make. 

Article by Gina Bushey of Zero Gravity Fitness

Preparing for the MN Pole Competition 2018:
Four moves for endurance and strength on stage

August in Minnesota. That means hot, humid, sunny days, day trips to the lake, and those last minute vacations before the chill of autumn settles in. For Pole and Performing Art, August means we are just a few short months away from the MN Pole Competition 2018! And that means, dear polers, it is time to start training for your best performance yet.

Between regular pole classes, choreography, and life (the lake is calling! work is crazy!), dance conditioning to build strength and endurance for the stage has likely landed at the bottom of your to-do list. Never fear! We are here to help with four multi-purpose, do-anywhere moves to help you shine from beginning to end of your dance piece:

1.  Thread-the-needle side plank. (Start at 5 reps, build to 15-20)

Why: This multi-purpose move strengthens the core for effortless climbs, inverts, and floorwork and builds endurance in the rotator cuff to prevent shoulder injury!

How to: Lay on one side. Stack your elbow underneath your shoulder. Lift your hips so your body makes a long line from your head to your knees. Take your top hand and thread it underneath your arm pit rotating the torso. As you reach your top hand back up, lift out of and squeeze the back of your bottom (supporting weight) shoulder.

Make it harder: Instead of on your knees, do side plank on your feet. Instead of your elbow, use your hand (but don’t stress your wrist, ok?)

2. Single-leg squat. (Start at 3 reps, build to 10-12)

Why: This one-sided squat will help you breeze through climbs, leaps, and your favorite lower body power moves! Bonus: This move aids in injury prevention, boost knee stability, and promotes leg and hip mobility!

How to: Stand next to a wall or pole. Put your hand on the wall or pole. Extend your inside leg (closest to the pole or wall), flex that foot. Bending the knee of the outside leg (furthest away from the pole or wall). Lower as far as you can comfortably, keep the heel on the ground, and knee cap tracking over the middle toe. Slowly press back up to standing (this is where a little wall or pole assistance can come in handy!). Do the same number of reps both sides.

Make it harder: Move away from the pole or wall. Hold a 5-10 pound weight close to your chest as you squat. Wrap an ankle weight around the extended leg.

3. Swan dive. (Start at 5 reps, build to 15 – 20)

Why: This back extension move builds strength and flexibility in the spine for beautiful back bends and a happy low back. Bonus: The continual “front body” pulling work we do in pole strengthens and tightens the muscles in the front of the body. This exercise opens the front body and strengthens the back to help prevent injury!

How to: Lay on your belly, face looking down. Put your arms out from your body in a T-shape. Roll your thumbs up to the sky (pink finger down to the ground). Anchor the tops of your feet down to the earth using your muscles. Gently draw the tail bone down towards the floor behind you (between your legs) to lengthen the low back. Then lift the chest and arms off of the ground. Lift only as far as you can without compressing the low back. Squeeze the shoulder blades together. Feel your upper and mid back muscles contract. Slowly lower.

Make it harder: Place your arms at a Y-shape overhead. Use 1-3 pound weights in your hands.

4. Scoop push-up. (Start at 3 reps, build to 8-10)

Why: The scoop push-up builds “pushing” muscles to help you master the push-pull dynamic of carousel spin, apprentice, butterfly, handspring and more! You will also build some serious core strength endurance to help you fly through your routine gracefully beginning to end.

How to: Come to all fours on the ground. Move to downward facing dog. Bend your elbows, keeping them tucked in to the rib cage. Slowly lower the chest directly down (feel free to lower your knees to the ground, too). Draw your chest forward to a plank hovering 6-8 inches above the ground. Keeping the chest low to the ground as long as possible, slowly push back to downward facing dog.

Make it harder: Keep your knees lifted the whole time.

Betty Harsma, contributor to the PPA blog, is an aerialist, musician, and yogini seeking joy and balance in the everyday. Follow her @happybettyann


The Intoxicating Effect of Pole Dance

Pole Dancing.  Those two little words can evoke so many emotions. 

To me, pole dancing and freedom are synonymous.  Pole dancing means freedom to be who you are, to express yourself how you choose, to find a place to exist. 

Profound, right? How can something like pole dancing have such a powerful effect?  Imagine this…

You want to try something different for your workout. Maybe you saw a Groupon for pole dancing and thought, "Sure, why not."  But before the big day you talk yourself in and out of going to class at least 20 times. 

         "I can't do this, I need to lose 10lbs first."

         "I can't do this, I have no upper body strength."

Sound familiar? Thought so.  

Your first class comes and the last fleeting thought of bolting comes and goes as the instructor starts the warm up. You try your first spin and follow the instructor as best as possible.  It's hard, you're sore, you can't do this.

“Wait. Did I just do that spin right?  Holy crap, I did! This is amazing!”

 The next 50 minutes fly by in a whirl of spins, body waves, and hair flips. You LOVED it! The energy of class, the spins that you were able to do, it all was incredible.  So you keep coming back. 

 Intoxicating isn't it?  You want to share this experience with the world.  Every new spin, trick, and flow, you want to post on Instagram because you're amazing!  Look at what you are able to accomplish with hard work. 

But then, doubt.  What if someone you know from work or your family sees it? What if they think you’re a stripper or what you are doing is inappropriate?

You hide all your pole pictures. You build a wall around your pole community to protect it from the outside.  Then one day you find yourself in conversation with someone at the gym and she comments on how impressed she is that you can do a couple pull-ups. 

         "Should I tell her why I can do this?"

         "What will she think of me?"

But you take a chance. If she doesn't get it, that's her problem.  But, she's intrigued.  So you give her the name of the studio and your favorite instructor and go on your happy way.

You start to think, 'who cares if they know and don't like it."  You start to tear down that wall you built.  Sometimes you get negative feedback.  You smile, you explain what you do, and they still don't get it.  You don't really care. You aren't going to change what you do, and they don't want to change how they think.  You move on.  Sometimes moving on is hard, but you seek solace in your craft.  Then you realize, you are free.  Free of the haters.  What started out as a passing idea has become your craft.  Sometimes that scares people, but it's yours. You own it. You are free.

Suddenly your life is viewed differently.  The "I can'ts" that almost held you back that first day are now becoming "maybe I can".  Challenges that seemed impossible before, seem very possible now.  Marathons?  Mountain Climbing?  You can do anything.  You are now free.  Free from the "I can't." 

Article by 
 Charisma Blue, PPA blog contributor, is a pole dancer, performer, and instructor. Find her on social media! 


Settling Into the Moment ~ A MN Poler's Story


When injuries left DaNae Wiseth sidelined, pole became her new sport.
National pole competitor TenaciousDNae based out of south central Minnesota shares with Pole and Performing Art on how pole fitness became her sport and passion. 

DaNae, who grew up on a farm in rural Northwestern Minnesota, says she has been an athlete for as long as she can remember. She played volleyball and basketball throughout her K-12 years, but unfortunately, her senior year of high school ended with a serious knee injury and surgery. DaNae jumped into rehab quickly, with plans to play collegiate volleyball, but was unable to recover fully. "I thought that was it for me," she said and set aside her athletic pursuits. So she decided to help others, studying athletic training and exercise science, later channeling her gift for health care by getting her degree and working as a LPN. In June she will graduate as an RN.

It wasn't until 2013 when she found pole through a friend (Amanda Dawn, who she lovingly calls her "pole mamma"), that she rediscovered her inner athlete. "I could hardly walk down the stairs after my first class, my legs felt like jelly," she laughed. "I was immediately hooked, I couldn't believe how pole dance could target muscles I needed to strengthen in such a low impact way." DaNae said the fitness challenge of pole helped her train like the athlete she knew she was, but thought she had lost. "My legs are so much stronger and my knee feels great, the grip strength I gained in pole has helped my wrists feel better, really everything is stronger." 

Since 2013, TenaciousDNae has trained pole regularly three times a week and has competed regionally and nationally at Pole Sport Organization events and the Minnesota Pole Competitions in 2017, with plans to participate again in 2018. Since she began poling, DaNae has only taken a break from training once, "I didn't want to stop poling, but I was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer, on my shin, of course!" she smiled, as we knowingly nodded. "I couldn't really climb or do a lot on the floor, so I decided to take a break to focus on my health." And has she ever! DaNae is now back to pole dancing three times a week and recently performed a beautiful pole solo with the North Polers aerial dance troupe in front of 1,300+ people at the Mankato-based RAW Fusion Fashion Show fundraiser, and is 100% skin cancer-free! 

But DaNae insists that the benefits pole has given her has gone beyond her improved physical fitness. "I was not expecting to find such an amazing supportive group of people or that they would be come some of my closest friends!" she shared with us. She paused for a moment, thinking quietly, and said, "Pole has made my body stronger, yes, but it has also made me a stronger human being with a greater capacity to love myself, and I think that is what keeps me coming back, for those moments in training when I get to settle into the moment, and move for no other reason than for the joy of moving." We couldn't say it any better. Pole on, DaNae, pole on. 

Betty Harsma, contributor to the PPA blog, is a poler, social media maven, and yogini seeking joy and balance in the everyday. Follow her @happybettyann



Masters Division Champion Mary Caryl on Channeling Your Ego, Embracing Vulnerability, and Competing after 60

Pole and Performing Art recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mary Caryl about her six years of poling experience. competitions, and what she will be sharing in her upcoming Pole Star workshops at the Minnesota Pole Competition.

Minnesota-born, Los Angeles-based, Mary Caryl started performing pole when many people her age were thinking about  relaxing in retirement. But taking it easy isn’t Mary’s way;  she loves to perform!  One of her favorite performances was one she choreographed herself to Madonna’s "Hanky Panky". The routine was flirtatious, with a touch of comedy, which is Mary’s signature style.  To enhance each character, she also designs and makes her own costumes.

One of the "added plusses" to poling is all the friends she makes, most of them young enough to be her daughter.  She loves to give advice, especially about men. Many young women, who are smart, successful, and sexy,  have trouble connecting with men the way they want to.  It's often just a few words that help put a new perspective on relationships.  To be able to make a little difference in someone's life, is a big reward in itself.

For Mary, performing is a way to connect with sensuality, self-esteem, develop strength, flexibility, musicality and technique; all to be expressed through pole artistry.  She feels that the sport helps women and men to find more confidence in their physical bodies.  Personally, Mary Caryl hopes that when younger pole artists  see her perform and compete at an elite level, they will believe, “If she can do, this, then I can do it too.”  What you look for, you will find.

Mary’s Four Words: Ego, Vulnerable, Jealous, Deserve

To get along in life, a strong ego is essential.  Life can be discouraging if you let it,  but developing a strong sense of self-confidence will help pull you through a tough time.  Just know  when the ego is not needed and  tuck it into your back pocket. To be vulnerable allows things to happen in your life but she cautions the importance of being physically safe,  and not take unnecessary risks.  She feels that it is ok to be a little jealous; but use that feeling to propel yourself forward, not to diminish others. When focused into positive actions, jealousy can be a powerful motivator.  When you deserve something, it is because it has been earned, not entitled.  To sum up, every performer, fueled with a little healthy jealousy,  needs a good ego and  allow a sense of vulnerability to  help them  take the stage! That will help you earn, not deserve, all the accolades that come with performing.

Pole, for Mary Caryl, is an opportunity to improve both physically and mentally, and to touch each other's lives with what you bring to the studio!  You can attend one of Mary Caryl's classes next month at the Minnesota Pole Competitions in Maplewood, Minnesota. Get the details on Mary’s workshops such as "Splits, Extension, & POINT YOUR TOES" HERE.    


Story by Amanda Lanser

​Edited by Mary Caryl



How Amber Cahill Stays on Top of Her Game (Whatever That May Be)

Amber Cahill doesn’t stay still for long. If she’s not teaching pole, you might find her competing in lyra or silks. Breaking her collarbone couldn’t even keep her down. Now that her successful studio has expanded into two Iowa locations, we sat down with Amber to learn how she stays on top of her game.

Train Every Night, Compete Every Weekend

Amber’s no stranger to a rigorous schedule. She started performing in dance competitions at age 5 and gymnastics competitions at age 7. Spending weeknights in the studio or gym and weekends on stage or the floor, Amber competed through high school, following her gymnastics trainer to Illinois State University.

After school, Amber’s rigorous schedule took a backseat to a new career as a teacher and mom of three young boys. When she dropped her youngest off at school, Amber wandered into a pole class in Des Moines, Iowa. She hasn’t looked back since.

Motivated by Competition

Amber put her new skills at pole to work in the 2012 Great Midwest Pole Competition. She was hooked on the competition and the great attitudes of her fellow competitors. She went on to perform in 12 more competitions over the next two years, honing her skills in pole, lyra, and silks.

Despite this rigorous schedule, training is the focus for Amber, not winning, traveling, or even teaching. She uses competitions to motivate herself to train. “Be the best you can be and stay on top of your game, whatever your game may be,” she says. Competing inspires Amber to train and stay sharp.

Working Backwards

Many athletes create routines based on how many weeks they have to prepare. Not Amber. She often works backward, finding inspiration in the details, such as a costume. From there, she finds the character, song, and routine. Then, she seeks out a competition where she can perform her new creation.

Similarly, Amber finds that music inspires her to learn new tricks and skills. As she develops a routine, she’ll feel that the music demands a particular move. She’ll add that move to her training regimen, even if it’s new to her. “The music needs this move,’ she says, “so I need to learn it.”

Many athletes focus on the physical aspect of training, but for Amber, mental preparation takes priority. Her training regimen is 20 percent physical and 80 percent visualization, from planning and writing out a routine to finding the perfect music. Only once these pieces are perfectly in place will Amber start a physical training program.

Today, you’ll find Amber teaching classes in the Des Moines, Iowa, area, where she owns two studios under the TGR Fitness name. Her studios offer five programs that are all based on movement, from pole and aerial to ninja warrior fitness programs. She also actively competes and judges competitions across the Midwest. We are looking forward to seeing her in the Twin Cities this January for Minnesota Pole Competitions, Vendor Fair, & Workshops!

 ​Story by:
Amanda Lanser​​​
November 2016


Morgan Gerhard, Sport Acro Athlete, Silks Artist, Cirque Performer and Musician

“Really, anyone can do anything. They just have to show up. They have to go and take that step to do it.” Aspiring artists and performers can really take Morgan Gerhard’s advice to heart. His 30-year career has included musical performances, sound recording and mixing, cheerleading, tumbling, dance, and silks. Thru his love of cheerleading, Sport Acro and dance, he his helping shape the way we do partner acrobatics today.

A native Minnesotan who now lives and works in Los Angeles, Morgan got his start in partner acrobatics as a cheerleader for the University of Minnesota. After college, he was asked to join the new gymnast’s squad for the Minnesota Vikings. The squad focused on tumbling, mini-tramping, and aerial stunts that complemented the female cheerleaders’ dancing. Morgan’s work there was part of the beginning of bridging cheerleading and Sport Acrobatics worlds.

After his move to LA, Morgan toured the world as a trumpet and saxophone player with some of the most famous acts of the 1950’s. He also got into swing dancing and started a career in sound mixing. His enthusiasm for pushing himself out of his comfort zone and into new disciplines eventually led to performances in acro, dance, and silks.

In fact, Morgan’s favorite style of performance blends these three disciplines, which will be on display next month at the inaugural Twin Cities Performing Art Convention on April 2. He’s got some surprises planned for audiences in his two performances with fellow artists Heidi Coker and Kelly Thorpe, including some stunts the pole world hasn’t seen before.

Morgan is excited to be back in Minnesota for this exciting weekend. He never thought he’d be coming back for a pole show, but in his words, he’s looking forward to it being “so much fun, don’t ‘ya know, eh?”

Don’t miss the chance to see Morgan on April 2. If you’re an aspiring sport acro or acroyoga athlete, silks artist, musician, or other artist, take a cue from Morgan’s performing art career: Get out of your comfort zone, take classes, and have fun.   

 ​Story by:
Amanda Lanser​​​
March 2016


Gravity Doesn't Win This One...

Gravity is something you may think keeps us down. But, for a few folks in the Twin Cities, gravity is something they laugh at and use it to their advantage. Take The Aviary, a yoga hammock studio, for example, they find that fitness and relaxation off the ground can be quite rewarding. And also, the Twin Cities Trapeze Center; they fly high above the ground and through the air in spite of gravity.

Being off the ground is a commonality among many of the studios appearing at the Twin Cities Performing Art Convention on April 2nd at the Muse Event Center. This first-of-its-kind event is geared toward empowering women through the performing arts and even includes a showcase from UNCAAGED.

UNCAAGED is a non-profit youth development program geared toward helping African American girls. Their slogan, Leadership, Sisterhood, Strength Building, Life Planning, Mentorship, Ownership, and Scholarship, helps to empower minority youth through the performing arts.

What empowers you? Come spend the day and experience a whole myriad of the local performing art, fitness, and dance studios, as well as other local businesses. Indulge in a workshop or two and connect with an amazing community.

Twin Cities Performing Art Convention 
April 2, 2016 

Matt Davis, Pole Artist, Performing Artist

Already comfortable in spandex from his wrestling days and a pro at falling safely from years at the skate park, Matt Davis is one of the Twin Cities’ most athletic and daring pole artists.

Matt can go on and on about how much he loves pole, but even if he hated it, he says he’d still do it for the physical results he gets. Before pole, Matt had the typical skater physique: very thin and not a lot of muscle. That quickly changed as he challenged himself to master some of pole’s most athletic tricks.

As a pole artist, Matt bases most of his training off of Zen principles, such as not getting angry or upset when he doesn’t get a trick, not worrying whether he’s making progress fast enough, and not allowing comparisons to other people bother him.

With that attitude, he’s added tricks to his repertoire that take considerable skill and athleticism. “I really like moves that highlight strength, technical ability, and daring,” he says, “essentially the pole equivalent of skateboarding. Drops, fonjis, flips, a lot of shoulder mount stuff. Someday I’d love to have an iron cross.”

But Matt’s routines do not end with technique. He always tries to bring humor and character into his performances, asking himself, “What’s the most ridiculous thing I could do in this situation?”

In his first performance, that meant a little trickery. Matt had the MCs to announce they weren’t sure who would be onstage next and ask Matt to clean the poles while they figured it out. Matt wiped one pole down, did a trick, wiped the next one down and did another trick, and then started to take off clothing. At that point, the audience knew Matt was actually the next act. Matt had even fooled one of the instructors, who was flipping through the program to figure out who was up next.

Since then, Matt’s worked with instructors at the Stomping Ground, ExperTease, Rabbit Hole Studios (where he’s a board member), and Dollhouse to improve his choreography and confidence on freestyle tricks. Competing is on Matt’s pole wish list.

Matt continues to challenge himself to master difficult tricks, which he finds are the most rewarding because they take him the longest to learn and cause the most pain. He has some advice for aspiring pole artists: “Pick something you don’t think you’ll ever be able to do and start working towards it in small increments. One day, you’ll achieve what had once been impossible for you, and that’s the definition of growth.”

You can connect with Matt on Facebook. Catch him in action in performances at Rabbit Hole and other local performing art studios in Minneapolis.

*Matt is one of the first males in the state to compete in the Minnesota Regional Pole Competition! Catch him there this Saturday, January 9.

​Article by:
Amanda Lanser​​​


Prior to this day, I had danced from the age of 2 until I was 26.  I became a competitive dancer at the age of 7. I trained in Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical and Tap.  Ballet was my first love and when I was about 8, I trained also in Pointe Ballet for several years.  My ultimate dream was to dance on Broadway and retire as a Rockette.  I went on to start teaching at the age of 11 and I finished at 26 as a high school dance team coach.  I taught toddlers and also held private lessons training fellow competitors with their solos, duets and trios as well as doing all of the choreography for their routines.

Since I started taking workshops and classes, I had learned that some of the students also competed which struck a chord in me and lit a fire.  I HAD to try this again!  I was able to get a feel for the stage again with the studios event in October called Dolls Must Die.  I had since signed up to perform in the most recent PSO competition, Gateway that was held in St. Louis, MO the first weekend in December, 2017.  I trained for 4 months (under pro competitor Emily Elise and instructor, Emma Blair) and landed a 1st place win in Level 1, Dramatic, Masters Division at Gateway with “my best runthrough ever”!  Talk about how amazing it felt to get to this again in my life.  I am forever changed!

​Now, I am ready to move on to MNPC and I will be competing in the Novice Artistic division in January of 2018 and I am again just excited for the opportunity to perform for people and do something that I absolutely love and give that experience as well to the folks attending the event!!  I am looking forward to the experience at MNPC and seeing and meeting more amazing people and hopefully placing again in this competition.  For me, it’s about doing something I love and sharing that through poling!!!

By day I am a mortgage professional.  My official muggle title is a Consumer Loan Underwriter.  I have worked for the corporate world for 10 years and prior to that I was an entrepreneur and ran several businesses.  Unfortunately, the housing crash in 2009 forever changed my career path.  But it was a definite blessing in disguise.  I absolutely love what I do and knowing my hard work helps people all over the country to be homeowners.

My pole journey started on a cold day in December of 2016.  I had a friend mention Dollhouse Pole Studio to me at a random girls dinner night as I had been looking for a new adventure.  I just bit the bullet and signed up for a 4 week Intro to Pole workshop and that day, Katie (who was my first instructor) changed my life!

Take a look at the Pole and Performing Art Blog Archives!