In honor of PoleCon this week and our upcoming Thunderpole competition (if you haven’t signed up yet, get on it!), we chatted with Roland Brown, who goes waaaay back with Body & Pole (he met Kyra and Lian before the studio was even formed). He specializes in powerful pole moves, and created our Pole Power class, which is based on strength training and is especially great for our male students who want to focus more on their upper body strength (but women love it, too!). Not only does he teach, he is also one of our resident artists: using pole, digital painting, watercolor, set & costume design as a medium. He regularly designs comic-inspired posters for us (like the one he created for Thunderpole), and helps design the set and costumes for our annual Halloween party. Keep reading for more about Roland, and make sure to check out his Pole Power class!
Tell us a little bit about yourself – what is your dance background?
My dance training is in ballet and modern dance. I danced with several small modern dance companies in northern California back in the 80s. Then I took a 25 year break from dance to pursue a career in design and illustration. I started pole dancing in 2007, and that re-ignited my passion for dance
How long have you been affiliated with Body & Pole?
I started teaching at Body & Pole in 2010, at the Elizabeth street studio [Ed Note: our very first ever studio!]
How did you discover Body & Pole?
I met Kyra and Lian in Kyra’s pole dancing class at a gym. When they formed Body & Pole, I was among the first people to start training there.
What is your preferred apparatus?
The pole, just by default. I had never heard of hoop or silks until I started seeing those apparatus appearing at Body & Pole. I really like hoop and silks too, but I don’t have enough time to practice all of them.
How did you discover it?
I walked by Kyra’s pole dancing class at a gym, and became intrigued immediately. I had been doing a lot of yoga, weight lifting, and dance for the past 35 years, and it seemed that pole dancing was combining all three. But with better costumes!
What classes do you teach at Body & Pole?
Pole power level 1-2.
Now, let’s talk a bit about you as an artist – what are your favorite mediums?
For my commercial work and my comic books, I do all of my painting digitally. I used to do a lot of watercolor painting, but again, I never have enough time to complete all of the projects that I want to do. For sculptures and costumes, I like working in fiberglass.
What inspires you artistically?
I get excited whenever I have an opportunity to re-think existing artistic norms from the ground up. The thing I like most about pole dancing is that it is an entirely new medium, with almost no preconceptions. Ballet and gymnastics have traditions that go back for centuries, but pole dancing consolidated as an art form almost entirely in the 21st century. As pole dancers, we are creating a totally new aesthetic language as we go along, and I am so excited to be part of that.
What sorts of projects have you worked on at Body & Pole?
I usually contribute to the decorations of our annual Halloween party, And I’ve done the artwork for several flyers or promotional pieces.
Will you be at PoleCon?
No, I won’t be able to get out there, but I did create the artwork for Thunderpole! (see below)
The characters’ outfits are similar to costumes that I have worn myself while pole dancing at Burning Man, so I just had to dig through my old costume designs from the past to come up with those. One day, I really want to build myself a pair of platform shoes with flame throwers in the toes, so I had to throw a bunch of those into the scene as well, just for laughs.