Meet our June 2023 Teacher Feature: Pole and Flex instructor Michelle Dawson and Aerial Instructor Summer Lacy. If you haven’t taken class with them yet, we hope you get to know them a little better; and if you’ve already taken their classes, maybe you’ll learn something new! Best of all, enjoy classes with Michelle and Summer for $25 throughout the month of May!

Take class with Michelle: Use code BPMICHELLE

Take class with Summer: Use code BPSUMMER

**PLEASE NOTE: instructor discount codes are only valid for classes with Michelle and Summer. Using the codes for any other instructor will result in early cancellation or a $45 single class purchase. No exceptions. 


Which apparatus do you teach?

I teach all levels of Pole Dancing. In addition, I teach Flexibility, and Yoga.

What is your training and background in pole dance?

My initial discipline was/is Yoga. I have been practicing consistently for almost 20 years. From Yoga, I evolved my practice to include Aerial Yoga and then morphed those two practices into Pole Dancing. I found a teacher in Lambertville, Pennsylvania who was also a very disciplined Yogi. I would drive over 4 hours round trip twice a week to practice with her. She only had one pole so eventually I bought her another one so we could really jam out and get things done. That was 9 years ago. Those were some very exquisite and ripe times in the Pole Dancing world.

How did you transition from student to teacher?

I was already a studio owner and a teacher (I own The Body Art Barn upstate). I was teaching Yoga and Aerial Yoga in my studio. In those days, Pole Dancing was still very niche and stigmatized but I knew I was going include Pole Dancing to my class offerings as soon as I started to grasp the technique. Pole took me a lot longer to understand than any other moving modality. It also took a lot longer to introduce to the community as well as gain popularity.

Are there any teachers that impacted your pole journey, and if so, what gift did they give you?

My first teacher, The Fairy Suzanne (that is the name she goes by ) has deeply impacted my journey. She is a deeply spiritual, embodied, and discerning Movement artist. She continues to remind me how to stay true to my roots and not stray from who I am as a Dancer.

What makes your classes unique?

My classes are rich in wisdom and intention. I think students come for the movement but stay for the philosophy and poetry and life lessons that they can take off of the pole and into the world.

How do you motivate students when you walk into a class with low energy?

As a teacher, I think you have to be a vibe alchemist! Harder than coming up with creative classes, we have to shift the mindset of our students. Before class begins, I check my own mindset to be sure I’m not transferring any of my own stuff to my students. I invite students to use their warm up to become present and set an intention for their practice. This gets them out of their own way and out of whatever self defeating story they may connecting to. It also unifies the class. During class, I keep the morale and the energy high simply by being present, engaging and encouraging.

How do you motivate yourself?

I practice a lot. I also have a therapist and a coach and God! It’s hard to not feel defeated in a rapidly growing arena like Pole. I’m from the old school so I have to stay on trend while also staying true to my body and my articulation of movement. My mantra – “know thy self”!

What’s your favorite playlist to jam to?

Ahh, too many to list. I have over 900 playlists. Not kidding.  My music taste ranges from Beethoven to Tupac. I believe Sound is everything. Gotta come to my classes to experience the music!

What is the best advice you can give to someone starting out in pole dance?

Stay true to your body.

What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in class (as a student or a teacher)? 

I think every teacher has spotted themselves in a split with their tampon string exposed or a nipple or another body part. I always say, a true friend/ good student quietly tells you to tuck your stuff in before it becomes obvious to the class! One time I had my pole bottoms on upside down and my student told me. That was pretty funny. Two legs in one hole?!

What future projects are you working on?

I’m working on creating Pole retreats at my Barn in The Hudson Valley. I would love to have Pole Dancers come out of the city for a few days to rejuvenate their spirit hanging in the country practicing Yoga, Pole, Flex, and some hiking in nature.

See Michelle’s schedule here

Follow Michelle on Instagram @bodyartbymichelle



Which apparatus do you teach?

I teach hoop, hammock and silks. My primary performance apparatus is aerial chains, which has some overlap with silks and hammock in terms of flow and movement, but it’s different because, you know, they’re chains.

What is your training and background in aerial dance?

I found my way into aerial dance and circus arts in college. It was a PE credit I needed to have in order to graduate. Little did I know, that little elective class would turn into my major in life! Since then I have taken classes, trained at and taught at Circus Schools and studios all across the country. Developing my skills in Hoop, Silks, Hammock, Static Trapeze, Dance Trapeze, Tumbling, Contortion, Belly Dance, Modern Dance.. just to name a few. And while I consider myself to be an expert in my field, my training still continues to this day! I am always taking classes and workshops to grow my skills. My most recent new thing I learned is wirework stunts for TV and movies!

How did you transition from student to teacher?

I don’t think that there was a specific moment where I was like “I have to be a teacher!” but I always really loved what I was doing in class and wanted to both deepen my understanding of the craft and share that joy with other people.

Are there any teachers that impacted your aerial journey, and if so, what gift did they give you?

OMG, that is a list… and it’s LONG! I have worked with so many wonderful instructors and coaches, whether in Modern Dance, Strength Training, Aerial Skills, or even on the Business side of things. I could talk about the impact of these amazing people for hours! I think the common thread that I’ve learned from all these teachers is something I share with my own students; Progress isn’t a straight line. Setbacks happen but perseverance beats problems. It’s okay to be scared and overwhelmed, just take a deep breath and we’ll move through it together.

What makes your classes unique?

My classes are fun and challenging, but focused on meeting students where they are. For Intro level classes we break things down to build fundamental skills, technique and flow. For higher classes, we work on more advanced skills, overall sequencing and turning our technique into dance! So no matter what your level, anyone is capable, everyone is welcome, and we will work hard together to reach your aerial dance goals! Let’s challenge ourselves, get strong and have fun dancing in the air!

How do you motivate students when you walk into a class with low energy?

I show up with a smile, positive energy and some flowy jams. I like to meet my students where they are, so if they’re having a stressful day or are just feeling low energy we’ll focus more on the things that make them feel good.

How do you motivate yourself? 

I motivate myself by staying excited about all the things I am doing and want to accomplish! Motivation is fleeting. There are always some days when we’re tired or cranky or just don’t feel like it. But on those days I pop on my favorite songs, remind myself of why I’m excited to do the thing I’m doing and show up and do the work anyway!

What’s your favorite playlist to jam to?

What is the best advice you can give to someone starting out in aerial dance?

Three things!
1. Just show up! You don’t need to have any previous strength or skill or experience to start. You’ll develop all you need just by showing up to class and doing what you can!
2. Believe that you can do it! And when you feel like you can’t, believe that your instructor can get you there! Just by believing, you’ll be able to do things that you used to think were impossible!
3. Enjoy the journey! Developing your skills and feeling comfortable in the air just takes some time. It’s not expected to get things instantly or perfect the first day. Allow yourself to give it time, have fun and enjoy the process!!

What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in class (as a student or a teacher)? 

I can’t think of a specific moment in class BUT I’ve had my fair share of embarrassing moments on stage. In one of my debut performances on Broadway, when I was performing my aerial chains act, I got a little too excited in my spin and ended up dramatically hitting myself in the face with my chains!

What future projects are you working on?

I have been part of the creation of a wonderful contemporary circus show inspired by legendary playwright Ntozake Shange’s ‘For Colored Girls…’ called ‘The Rainbow Is Enuf‘ which we will be presenting at a Festival this Summer! And I have been facilitating an online coaching program called ‘The Prosperous Performer‘ that helps guide new and aspiring professional performers towards building a sustainable, joyful and profitable creative career.

See Summer’s schedule here

Follow Summer on Instagram @winterbrocade