Natasha Wang, recent winner of the 2011 US Pole Dance Federation National Championships, didn’t start pole dancing until a short 6 ½ years ago at an S Factor.
“At the time pole dancing hadn’t yet hit the mainstream, so there weren’t a lot of options as far as studios were concerned, so S Factor was the only gig around.
I went with a couple of girlfriends who eventually dropped off while I stuck around. I continued going once a week for 4 ½ years; I was one of those people who hated exercise and never went to the gym but pole dancing was different – it was fun and there was a sense of camaraderie among the women,” Natasha says.
“I never thought I would be competing!” Natasha eventually joined BeSpun, a pole fitness studio in Los Angeles where Leigh Ann Reilly, also a USPDF winner, was her first instructor.
“Leigh Ann showed me things that I had never seen before or thought was possible on the human body,” Natasha says of Leigh Ann’s pole tricks and routines. She purchased a membership where the classes were unlimited and she began going every day after work.
In 2009 she entered a competition for the first time: the USPDF West Coast competition which she feels she did “very badly!”
Natasha, who had been working in public relations for nine years, decided on a career change to focus solely on teaching and performing.
She is currently organizing a workshop tour that will span a good part of the globe: UK, Ireland, the rest of Europe, Mexico and the States. Needing her own space to train, she secured a rehearsal space in downtown L.A.
She will be giving a talk on competition preparation at the Pole Convention next this month in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“A lot of (competition preparation) is common sense. But there is no outlined process for someone to follow right now as far as preparing to compete.”
Natasha is also a part of an amazing entertainment group known as Girl Next Door, where she auditioned over a year ago and was accepted.
“I owe a lot to the show to getting me to where I am right now,” she says. She has been coached by Girl Next Door creator and producer Kelly Yvonne for developing her character and storytelling through dance at a “deeper level”. Although Natasha develops her own routines, she has also learned the most about choreography and performance from Kelly.
“One of the primary reasons why I decided to perform in the first place was to overcome what I thought was a debilitating stage fright.”
Working with Kelly and doing performances in the show have helped her to overcome the fear of performing as well as polish her pole dancing routines to be competition –level performances that have obviously helped her to reach the top ranks in the world of pole dance.
“Being in the show is really great practice…it trains you to get to competition level.”
What about pole dancing in the Olympics?
“I think we have so far to go,” Natasha says. When she was going through a practice run for her performance and interview with The View, the director asked if she could position her moves to make it less ‘suggestive’ for the camera.
“If you stand next to a pole, there is just a whole different connotation that comes with it,” she adds sadly. Although she supports those trying to get pole dance into the Olympic Games, Natasha feels that it will be a while until the mainstream perception changes and it becomes a respected sport.
Since she has decided to quit her day job, it seems that her schedule has become ‘crazier!’ But Natasha is dedicating all of her freed time now to pole dancing: training, developing routines, practicing some more, doing her shows with The Girl Next Door and going on her workshop tour.
Stay tuned for a listing of the upcoming workshops given by Natasha!
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Natasha is also the USPDF West Coast Champion 2010, the 2010 California Pole Dance Champion, the 2010 East Meets West 'Pole-AM' Champion, the Principal Dancer with Girl Next Door, a USPDF Pro and an Official X-Pole Girl!