Big news! “The Wall” at Body & Pole is back with our first post-COVID artist, Anna Zubet-Anderson debuting this month. In case you’re new here, The Wall is the studio’s gallery space where we showcase artistic works by members of our aerial and dance community. We’re thrilled to welcome long-time student (she’s been dancing with us since the very beginning!) and contemporary artist Anna Zubet-Anderson to feature her vibrant paintings, inspired by nature, spirituality and the female form. Get to know a bit more about Anna below and please join us for the gallery opening where you can meet her in person and watch her perform:
Thursday, January 25
Nice to meet you, Anna! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a mom of two kids who loves to dance and paint. I work for myself. Besides being an artist, I’m a life coach and a business sustainability consultant. I was born and raised in the former Soviet Union and I immigrated 30 years ago as a teenager. I consider myself a citizen of the Earth and I’m friends with people all over the world from all kinds of walks of life.
You have over 15 years of experience as an aerial dancer — how did you get started and what is your apparatus of choice?
I mostly pole dance, but I also tried lyra, silks and hammock over the years.
I discovered pole dancing in London two decades ago. My salsa teacher canceled our lesson, and that same day I saw a flyer on a light post advertising a pole dancing lesson at a local bar that evening. So I went there instead. Pole dancing was not as mainstream back then – the lights were dim, the shades were drawn, and the style taught was very strip-club oriented. And I got hooked – moving sensually along all three dimensions made me feel alive like nothing did before or since. I had to keep it a secret for years because I worked in a very conservative corporate environment. Then I rebelled with publicly displayed nude art and pole dancing videos. The corporate world eventually kicked me out. It was worth it!
What is your background as an artist/painter?
When I was a small child I loved to make art and people around me thought I was gifted. My parents tried to get me into a Moscow painting academy (which was the only real way to learn in Soviet times) but the academy wouldn’t take me. They didn’t think I had enough talent. So that injured my spirit a bit and I stopped painting until I was already in my 30s, when I decided to take classes at the New York Academy of Art. The teachers there were very supportive and encouraging. And I went from there with dedicated weekly painting practice, being mostly self-taught. In the long run, it was better for me not to get external validation too early, because it set my art free.
How has your background in aerial dance inspired your art?
Aerial dance is my biggest love. And you know how they say that the dancer dies two deaths – once when their body dies and once before that, when they stop dancing. Well, I always had it in the back of my mind that I could avoid that first death and continue living as a dancer on canvas, even if my body could no longer dance.
Most of your art depicts the female form — can you tell us more about the significance and meaning of this? What other themes inspire your work?
There are so many layers to answering this question, so forgive me if this will be a long answer! First of all, superficially, I think female form is beautiful and it’s a pleasure for an artist to paint. But also, my art is, in a way, my journal. I get in touch with, process, and document my human experience, which happens to be in a female form. So my art often reflects a theme of female empowerment, a theme of setting women free from patriarchal constraints- because these issues have been very poignant in my life, sometimes through very painful experiences.
More deeply, the feminine energy is connected to the unconscious, to the intuitive, to the unseen- and I explore that part of myself with my art. I’m very much into Jungian psychology, and female archetype to me is associated with the world of imagination and emotion that I explore with my art.
Finally, my spirituality is nature-based and I feel connection to Goddess-oriented religions. So portraying liberated women in nature is my prayer – for me and for this suffering world we live in. Finally, artistic nudity is my metaphor for being free, authentic, and naked with life.
What materials do you mostly work with?
I’ve experimented with just about everything but recently settled on mostly acrylic paint. I find the process less toxic, easier to clean up, and more compatible with two kids and two cats running around.
How did you connect with Body & Pole?
I found you not long after you opened. Was it 2008? I needed an awesome pole studio near me, and I heard great things about this new place that opened in Chelsea. Body & Pole was, and continues to be, a perfect place to connect to my dancer’s spirit.
Are there any particular works that will be on display that you want to provide more background for?
I’m hoping to display the piece I’m currently working on. I’m trying to get it finished in time. It’s about Persephone from Greek mythology. There is something that I’m exploring there about transforming one’s shadow. Stay tuned.
The vast majority of my work explores themes of growth, of inner transformation, of owning your power. Each piece depicts a stage I went through. I try to name them in a way that points to that milestone that I hope others can relate to.
Anything else you want to add?
I just love you guys. I love this community of aerial dancers. I know that Body & Pole is a healing space for many. It’s a healing space for me. I can’t imagine a better place to display images that depict my healing journey.