Interview with Berenice Cowan
Posted: Apr 27 2014
1.You recently won the Advanced category at the IUPDC. How did you feel being a winner and have you taken part in any other competitions?
I previously competed in the beginner category of the Inter-Uni competition in Bristol in 2012 and was supposed to compete in the advanced category in Essex last year, but I unfortunately suffered a pretty serious shoulder injury a week before the competition. I actually still did a basic one-armed routine because I was so upset about missing the opportunity to perform, but I was completely gutted that I didn't get the chance to compete to the best of my ability. So to come back this year and win was just an incredible feeling, topped only by the euphoria of the entire Warwick University team when we won overall!
2. How did you first get interested in pole dancing?
Through the Warwick Pole Society when I first started at University - I wasn't really aware of pole dancing as a dance form before then.
3. What is it about pole dancing you enjoy the most?
The combination of physical strength and artistic movement – I love that you get the physical exertion of any other sport or fitness form whilst also being highly creative and elegant in your dancing.
4. What are the main fitness benefits of pole dancing and how has pole dancing improved your fitness, strength or body shape?
I think pole is one of those sports that is a complete all-rounder. It works out just about every part of your body, evidenced by how many strange places you find can hurt after training! My general fitness and strength have gone through the roof - I've never found another way of working out that has such a positive physical impact whilst also being heaps of fun.
5. Has pole dancing had an impact on anything else in your life such as giving you more confidence or making new friends?
Discovering the pole community has been absolutely the best impact pole dancing has had on my life. The solidarity and support you find amongst the men and women who pole is unparalleled - and what’s even more amazing is how global that is! I’m currently on a year abroad in Berlin, and the instant warm welcome from the pole studios here was probably the most settling thing about moving! Wherever you’re surrounded by pole family, you’re home.
6. What are your 3 favourite pole moves and why?
The Iron-X - because it’s the literal definition of defying gravity; The Rainbow Marchenko - because I don’t think I’ll ever be flexible enough to do this move, but it’s stunningly beautiful; The simple pole seat - because even the most basic moves are still an achievement. I love watching how the screams of pain and “I can't hold it!” that I hear from beginner students change as this becomes a staple move.
7. What are your favourite strength training moves on the pole and why?
Arms only climb, because there’s something ridiculously satisfying about reaching the top of the pole using only your guns! And repeat choppers - great core workout and always good to practise making your inverts look more professional.
8. Where would you like to see pole dancing in the future?
I’m torn about the Olympic debate on pole dancing - I’d hate to see the creative elements of pole stifled by heavy-handed competition rules. Yet seeing pole dancing on a more global and recognised platform would also be amazing.
9. What pole performers do you admire or inspire you?
The first professional pole performer I ever saw was Sarah Scott, as a guest performer at my first competition. I was still a beginner, and seeing what it’s possible to progress towards totally inspired me. She is so unbelievably strong, but retains an elegant femininity in her performances too.
10. What would you say to someone who is thinking of trying pole dancing for the first time to convince them to give it a go?
It’s always hard to start something completely new and unknown, but that should never hold you back! Forget any stereotypes you have about who can pole - any gender, every shape and size, pole is for all of you!
11. Three words that sum up pole dancing for you.
Strength. Beauty. Determination.