Here’s an article by Danah Gutierrez, one of our lovely students. As her teachers, we are more than proud to see her grow and get better in the craft we all love. May her words inspire you to dare and conquer what lies beyond your perceived limitations.
To know more about Danah, visit her blog The Plump Pinay.
Poling my way to Happiness
“A dream never stops knocking until it happens.” When I read this quote, something inside me shattered, because it is so true to me. I have loved dancing ever since the moment I knew it’s something I can do and it’s something I’m pretty good at. I guess I got it from my momma, because she herself is a self-confessed frustrated dancer (she says dancing is her first love). So whenever there were opportunities to dance, whether in school or in barangay fiestas, I’m in. Dancing just gave me so much joy, and I knew in my heart it’s definitely something I am passionate about. However, as I got bigger come grade 5, the taunting and teasing from other fellow dancers got magnified which caused deep wounds in my heart. Sure, I shrugged it off and still pursued dancing up until I moved to my new high school, but it was a time I never knew of body-acceptance, and so I finally believed the idea they were all trying to tell me subliminally—that I shouldn’t dance because I’m fat, and because dancers must be thin.
After a massive weight loss because of obsessive calorie-counting and excessive exercising, I figured since I had the acceptable body for dancing, might as well go for it. So promised myself I will join a dance troupe in college–and I did. But my priorities shifted and I gained back all the weight I lost, so I quit. I was devastated, I knew I was letting go of something dear to me–an extension of me–but I justified my cowardice with a lot of smart-sounding excuses. From then on, I tried to stop thinking about it; but it was like an annoying little creature running after me—the thought of dancing just wouldn’t go away. So one time, I finally gave that little creature what it wanted. I enrolled in All Stars Dance Studio, with the internationally-known dance group, Philippine All Stars. I remember the shame and fear I felt before going to the studio. “I won’t fit in. I’ll make a fool out of myself”–these where the thoughts lingering in my mind as I waited for the dance class to begin. So after paying for a year’s membership fee and a month’s worth of classes, I told myself I can’t keep up with this pressure and feeling of dismay. I stopped right attending after my 2nd class.
I wanted to give up this dream. I felt stupid for even trying to revive something that already died a long time ago. Or so I thought.
It was after I had pledged to take the journey of body acceptance that I finally wanted to do something grand with my body—and that is to awaken the dance freak in me (hehe). As I scoured the internet for the best dance genre for me (I had to consider the skills I got: I was a hip-y person and loved fluid moves), I came across a video of a plus-size pole dancer. MAN OH MAN, SOMETHING SO STRONG WAS RENEWED IN ME AND IT WAS THE DESIRE, THE PASSION AND THE COMMITMENT I ONCE HAD WITH DANCING. It felt good–like a love affair waiting to begin. As I watched this dancer’s movement, something in me felt so determined to achieve the same. I want to be like her, I CAN BE LIKE HER. So with high hopes and a more confident me, I searched for a credible pole dance studio to work with.
This is where POLECATS enter the picture. I saw their ad on Dance Manila’s website and did a little more research and finally enrolled. I felt so foreign as I entered the studio. Was I afraid? Yes, but excitement took over my fear. “Do it afraid”, I quoted Joyce Meyer as I reminded myself.
We were asked to partner with someone, and amazingly, I was partnered with Karla, a big, beautiful woman, who seriously took my breath away the moment we started our warm up. She was such a sweetheart, bursting with confidence and energy. I remember her saying, “If I can do this, so can you.” She was my hero that night, pushing me to my limit with a lot of encouragement. The class was unbelievably fun; my first class was with teacher Myla, a gorgeous, friendly and spunky girl who always asked if I was okay, and assured me that I’ll get better in no time, as long as I practice.
The sense of support in the room was overwhelming, and it all the more makes me want to persevere as a dancer. Sure, there were moments I wanted to burst out crying because I feel so awkward and slow, but hey, I gotta start somewhere, and this time, I won’t let these challenges hinder me from doing what I love. They are nothing compared to the elated feeling of achieving something after a hard night’s work.
I remember teacher Myla asking us to do the superman move (photo below), and after demonstrating it, I just instantly said I can’t, without even trying. This is what I also love about pole dancing: I get to break poor mindsets and surprise myself later on. So as Karla and teacher Myla finally got me to try doing it (oh how strong Myla was to spot me), I WAS ABLE TO LIFT OFF MY LIMBS AND CARRY MYSELF. Those 3 precious seconds were so powerful—it showed me that I CAN, AND I AM ABLE, AS LONG AS I SET MY MIND TO IT. It was the first trick I ever did, (next is the climb which is my ultimate favourite) and I felt great.
There is more to pole dancing than meets the eye. It is for strong, confident women (we don’t even need partners!) who are comfortable with their bodies. I love how it made me realize more things in my journey to body-acceptance. It doesn’t discriminate, it forms friendships, it strengthens and it brings out encouragement and also and more importantly, the best in you. Most especially, it made my dream a reality, and I’m not stopping anytime soon.
To the PoleCats team especially teacher Myla Tan and Christina Dy, thank you for being in this journey with me. You have been so wonderful and encouraging, your words bring life–you truly inspire me to be the best dancer I can be.
To other plumpies out there who are afraid to try something new because of fear or shame: GO FOR IT. JUST DO IT. DO IT AFRAID. Learn to have fun with your bodies and do what you really wanna do. May it be a sport or a funky dance class, just go! Trust me, you won’t be experiencing many great things until you step out your safe zone. It also opens so many novel things in terms of body-acceptance. As for the critics–let them be. As Marilyn Monroe said, “When it comes down to it, I let them think what they want. If they care enough to bother with what I do, then I’m already better than them.”
DO VISIT POLECATSMANILA‘S WEBPAGE AND LEMME KNOW IF YOU WANNA TRY IT WITH ME!