Interview with Robyn Rooke

Posted: Apr 13 2012

Ahead of the South West Pole Showcase this weekend, we talk to organiser Robyn Rooke from 360 Pole Dancing to find out more...

1.Tell us more about the South West Pole Showcase? How and why did you start the event.
I used to be the main organiser of Pole Divas with Fay Warne.  We did it for 3 years but it ended up being too much work with the pole schools we both run and living so far apart. People kept telling us how much they missed the event as not everyone wants to compete in competitions, so I thought about starting something regionally. I contacted some schools and got such a great response and so the South West Pole Showcase was born.

2.What’s it all about this year? Where will it all take place, who’s taking part and what can we expect to see?
The event takes place in a big old church on Saturday 14th April.  It’s an amazing venue just perfect for pole and I can’t believe we hadn’t found it before. 

We’ve got 10 pole schools taking part including my school 360, where the students have had to get on with it themselves since I have been out of action. I’ve helped them with a few moves but I’m sure they will be great, even though they haven’t had much time to practice and 2 of them have only been pole dancing since January.

Other schools taking part are; Spin City - Bristol and Exeter, Pole Affinity -Barnstaple, Emily’s Pole Fitness- Swindon, Pole Dancing (Funky Monkey Studio) – Bath, Studio 22 - Taunton, In The Shadows – Weston-Super-mare, Poleatis - Bridport, Pink Kitten Dance School – Bristol.

Expect everything from student group pieces to super glamourous professionals and special guest performances UKPPC champion Annie Norris and Jamie Taylor who is also doing workshops in Bristol on Sunday 15th April.

3.How and did you first get interested in pole dancing and what made you become an instructor/performer? 
I first got into pole dancing in 2004 when a friend was getting married and I was researching things to do for Hen dos.  I came across pole dancing and really wanted to book it, but my friend chickened out at the last minute as she didn’t want her mum doing it.

I was still really excited about it and wanted to do it and about 6 months later I found a class nearby and when I arrived the teacher was my next door neighbour when I was at University! 

I took lessons for 8 months and took part in the Pole Princess amateur competition organised by KT Coates with my friend Michelle who ended up winning.  To be honest I was terrible and did really badly, but loved the experience and being on the stage and wanted to do it again.

The school Michelle and I were students at then asked us if we’d like to teach and we did training course and got our certificates.  After that I moved from Birmingham to Bristol and went to a few pole classes to meet people. By the third lesson, I knew more tricks than the teacher and as luck would have it she had to leave to go back to college and I was asked to teach.  This was in 2006 and I taught there for 3 years.

Unfortunately the venue for my classes was changed to a smaller room more like a cupboard with not enough room to pole dance properly so I left as I felt I couldn’t teach properly in that space. 

During that time I was also busy with Pole Divas and after that I opened my own pole school 360 in January 2010. This year we celebrated the second birthday which I feel is a real achievement as it’s gone from one class to six classes a week with a waiting list too!

4.What is it about pole dancing that you enjoy the most?
Pole dancing gives me the chance to get away and escape when I am performing as I can be someone else.  You can be a gravity defying princess and wear 6 inch heels and be fabulous!  I also love the challenge of learning new moves and being strong and having killer abs.

5.What are your 3 favourite pole moves and why?
1) Twisted Stag – Makes me look bendy, even though I’m not and it shows of my flexibility. It also looks pretty with a nice extension.

2) Inside leg hang or Scorpio – Versatile, pretty move that you can go in and out of so many other moves as it works in many combinations.  It’s also great to see when someone really understands how the move works and there is more to it and that you can do with it.

3) Reverse grab – It feels like you are flying when you get it right!

6.What are the main fitness benefits of pole dancing and how have pole dancing improved your fitness, strength or body shape?
It’s a great exercise for toning your body, especially core, arms and shoulders. I noticed it’s toned my waist and I am pretty much straight up and down now with improved core strength. I’ve also got strong arms and bigger shoulders and sometimes find it hard to find t-shirts to fit! Haha! And believe it or not, before I started pole I could not even touch my toes.

Teaching and doing everything with the class I have really noticed an improvement in my flexibility and was then able to do the splits, but really had to work at it as it as you have to keep stretching regularly to improve.

7.What’s your favourite move for strength training on the pole?
I like to do leg lifts and crunches when you stand to the side of the pole as if you are going to invert, but first bring your knees to your check in a tuck position and repeat, then do the same thing with the legs straight. It really works the legs and abs.  

8.What pole performers do you admire or inspire you?
Jenyne Butterfly – Big fan of Jenyne, she is a pole technician. She can visualise everything so perfectly and do it as if there is no gravity. 

Sally-Ann Giles – She knows how to own a room, It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t do the hardest tricks, she always has everyone in the rooms eyes on her and never misses a beat.

Tess Taylor - She knows how to fly, gravity does not apply when she gets near the pole.

9.If someone has never tried pole dancing before how would you advise them they to get started?
I’d say go to a group lesson, the social aspect is the best things you can do to meet people just like you, who feel just as nervous and have never done it before. Look on the PDC website for approved schools and also find someone you get on with as an instructor. 

10.What’s next for you in the coming year?
Getting back on the pole for starters! I should be able to do a handstand by Christmas.  I’ve been told I can do basic teaching with someone with me demonstrating in June, but nothing putting weight through my shoulder until the Autumn.  I’m also on the look out for a new studio where I can run classes every night so I don’t have a waiting list and can run a larger variety of classes to suit all levels.

Find out more about the pole showcase and buy tickets here

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