Introducing the Body & Pole Pre-Professional Program, a new program designed for students who are serious about taking their practice to the next level, as an instructor or a performer. This three month program, offered in the spring and the fall, includes intensive training, expert consultation from our Program Directors, personalized mentorship and coaching from our world-renowned instructors, as well as unlimited access to trainings and workshops. We piloted this program with a few “beta testers” last August, and found their experiences to be overwhelmingly impactful. On that note, we’d like to introduce you to Patty, who participated in the program’s Instructor track, and kept a diary of her experience.
Hi, I’m Patty, and pole first turned my life upside-down eight years ago. That’s when I took my first class at Body & Pole. Initially, I felt intimated. I’d never done gymnastics or taken dance classes. I’d never been a cheerleader or tried any kind of acrobatics. I was a proud Peruvian couch potato.
Kyra Johannesen taught my first class at B&P. I soon followed Kyra’s class with a Flexibility class taught by Olga Karmansky. At the time I couldn’t do a split, or a pancake, and my cobra was just plain sad. In the eight years since then I’ve taken every class B&P offers – from Pole Divas with Steven Retchless to Core Aerial with Maria Del Mar. And, from that initial half split, for the first time I felt like my life was moving – or about movement.
To improve my flexibility and to be able to do more tricks I started taking yoga classes, eventually trading my job on Wall Street for a job as a yoga instructor. I was now able to train seriously for pole, and not just at night after work. That helped get me to Pole Theater Iceland (where I won the overall champion in the professional division and took me to Pole Theater World in the UK), to Mexico, where I placed first in Spirit Flow Fest this and, back home in New York where I won Miss Trixter in USPDF.
For me, the combination of pole and yoga helped set everything in motion. That’s why, when I was invited to participate in B&P’s first Pre-Professional program last August, I was so happy and felt like it was my perfect fit. The program runs for three months and allows you to focus on either Performance or Instruction. I chose the Instruction path, and to teach flexibility.
After I met with Kyra and the directors of the program to discuss my goals, they customized my program to maximize my training schedule. My program includes five flex class, two classes on Inversion, and a Melt class. It also provides an unlimited membership, allowing me to sign into whichever class I want to take. And, as a bonus, I get to take specialized B&P workshops not available to the general public – like my personal favorite, Anatomy for Aerialists!
But probably the biggest bonus is that you get to choose your mentor. I chose Donna Carnow, a dancer, yoga instructor, anatomy geek, pole champion and an overall amazing person. I have a weekly private with her. For our sessions, Donna concentrates on a variety of spotting techniques, how to develop class outlines, run warm-ups, etc. What’s more, I get to shadow and assist her flex classes!
On my third week into the program I was supposed to go to the Bronx to take the elevatED Flexibility training. At first, I didn’t want to go only because it takes me an hour to get there. But in the end, it’s part of the program – and I’m glad I went. elevatED is a three-day course and the amount of knowledge you gain is simply priceless. From how to successfully cue students, to how to make a well-rounded flexibility sequence, to learning which muscle groups to engage. I left elevatED with a new-found appreciation for B&P instructors. elevatED helped me enhance my teaching. When I taught my yoga class the next day, I could see my students getting deep into poses without sacrificing alignment. I realized I was teaching elevatED style!
A little more than a month has passed since I began the program and one thing that’s really stood out to me is the personal style of instruction that’s part of B&P. It can be as simple as taking the time to learn a student’s name or to demonstrate an exercise after class that addresses someone’s individual challenges. I’ve learned how to apply my strengths as a yoga instructor to the way I teach flexibility, and I’ve also learned the importance of the proper demonstration of a movement or exercise.
In the next few weeks, before the end of the class, I’ll be able to mock my own flex class. In the meantime, I’ve gotten a lot of advice and guidance from some of the instructors I’ve worked with as well as fellow students. It’s made me realize one other thing that makes this program so unique, which is the incredible amount of knowledge, and the willingness to share it, that’s just part of the B&P community. To me, that’s the awesome sauce in B&P instruction.
Half-way through the program, I did my mock Flexibility class and I passed! At the time, I thought it was going to be my only mock class, but as I began to shadow different classes, I became interested in different aspects of teaching, and something surprising happened: I took an Intro to Pole class and it rekindled my love of teaching pole. I was completely shocked because it wasn’t part of my initial plan when I began the Pre-Pro Program (originally, I had been more focused on Flexibility). But watching the faces of the “baby polers” reminded me of all the excitement I felt on my first spin. I told Kyra and Phill that I wanted to become a pole instructor and they were happy yo hear that, since they have watched me grow over the last 9 years at Body & Pole – they offered for my take another elevatED training (this time in Pole training) and to complete 3 more mocks: Intro to Pole, Level 1 and Level 2 (which you need to pass in order to become a Body & Pole instructor). I decided to keep working with Donna, as she is also an elevatED Master Trainer. Between shadowing and assisting Donna, I ended my last month in the program passing my Intro and Pole Level 1 mock! Even though I finished program in December, my Level 2 mock is scheduled for January. Everyone, from management to instructors has been there for me throughout the entire process – to make me both a better teacher and pole dancer. elevatED pole dancing training has given me a new appreciation for the technical aspect of teaching and training — from finding the right lighting, to efficient cuing, to the correct way to spot a student. Throughout the Pre-Pro Program, I immersed myself in the Body & Pole community, and met so many people from around the world that come to train at the studio. I was also invited to participate in two Body & Pole shows — in Kyra’s group piece for the the “Exquisite Corpse” Halloween show and in Donna’s group piece for the Work-Study Showcase. Pre-Pro exposed me to the entire spectrum of disciplines Body & Pole has to offer. It also exposed me to a world of people that like myself, love to live their life upside down.
Experience has taught me a lot about pole as a performer. But now, as a teacher, I’ve started to understand pole from a whole new perspective. When I’m teaching a new trick or flow, I have to be able to see what each of my students needs to do to be successful. I’ll start by demonstrating a move. Then I’ll give my students a couple of minutes to try it for themselves. That’s when my elevatED training kicks in. Because of elevatED, I’m able to recognize the individual challenges of each student and cue them based on a deeper understanding of how they can improve and also feel inspired. One thing elevatED has taught me is it isn’t just about technique, it’s also about attitude.Teaching pole has been my New York dream. After the Pre Pro Program and passing my Flex training I took Pole intro and did my Pole Level 1 mock. Being asked to teach at Body & Pole has made all of those long hours, bruises and Instagram fails worth it. I now have four classes on my schedule and, at the end of next month, I will be elevating my own teaching, taking elevatED Pole 2 to learn how to teach higher level pole classes. Everyone in the studio has been so welcoming – from the owners to the work studies, to the messages I receive from the Traincation students! I’m also getting to know more students every day and, on my days off, I get to practice for my own development as a pole dancer. For those who want to take their work in aerial arts to the next level, I highly recommend enrolling in the pre professional program. It will make you appreciate pole from a whole new perspective
The next Pre-Pro starts March 1. For more information, click here.