I had the pleasure of getting to know Kody Parker, instructor and owner of Pole Harmony, a pole dancing studio in Indianapolis, Indiana.
How where you first introduced to pole dance?
I took a class with a 21 and older singles group, High Life Adventures back in 2008. There were 20 ladies and 1 pole for my first ever class. I was immediately hooked and wanted to learn more. The instructor taught us 4 moves in that one session.
After my lesson, the instructor gave me a card for a Lil Mynx home pole and told me I could get my own pole in my apartment. I ordered one the next day and the following week it arrived.
What was it about the dance style that intrigued you?
At first, it was all about the tricks and a means to work out that was fun.
How long have you been poling?
I started poling in 2008.
What has pole dance done for you personally?
Pole dancing has done so much for me. It's had a huge impact on my life and health. It's the only form of fitness I've ever been disciplined in and maintained. I've found something that I'm truly passionate about and taken it to becoming an instructor and now owning my own studio.
How did you learn?
I am mainly self taught. I learned from watching YouTube videos then I started going to studios all over the United States. I also learned online with Studio Veena.
Did you ever use any DVD's or go to a studio to learn?
I have used DVDs and gone to studios. I wanted to research every avenue there was to learn from.
I see from the instructor bio on your site that you also teach yoga. Do you tie this into your pole classes?
I do tie Yoga into my pole classes -especially the utilization of the breath. I also teach a flexibility class I have developed specifically for pole dancing that is modeled from Yoga practices.
Do you think we can blend other dance styles, for instance Latin, with pole dance?
I encourage my students to make their pole dancing workout their own. Everyone comes from a different dance back ground and I really want my students to feel as though they can find their particular style through pole dancing whether it be Latin, Contemporary, or sexy.
We love your blog and can see that you have a passion for pole dance...what advice do you give beginning students?
Take your time. I often say the phrase, "Slow is sexy." A lot of my students come to pole classes for the sexy appeal of dancing with a pole which is why I've used this phrase so much.
What I'm really saying here is, slow down when you dance. Don't rush. It looks choppy when you don't take your time. If you slow down, your movements look controlled and fluid. At the same time, you're building strength and toning muscles.
What advice do you give advanced students?
You're never above and beyond a class or skill. Go on vacations and take intro classes at studios close to your vacation destination. Just because you're "advanced" doesn't mean you won't learn something from taking a beginner level class. You'd be surprised at what you can learn, even if it is "beyond" your perceived level.
What is your favorite pole trick?
The sad girl drop. It's one of my favorites to perform and requires a tall pole for the best audience reaction. Someone ALWAYS screams out whenever I do this drop in a performance.
What was the hardest thing for you to learn in pole?
Flow. For the longest time I would just go from trick to trick. It wasn't until I started my first teaching position when the then studio owner said to me, your dancing is too choppy. You really need to work on making it seamless. I was grateful for that criticism and worked hard at developing a style that would flow from every detailed movement during my dancing.
Do you have any new personal 'pole goals' for yourself?
For the longest time, my goal has been an over the head toe grab both on and off the pole. I'm adamantly working towards this goal.
What are your thoughts about pole dancing being associated still in our culture with 'stripping' and erotic dance?
I think it being 2014, it's getting to be old. Pole dancing really is out there mainstream. I think it's a little ridiculous it still has a stigma. I have heard more and more people within the past couple years directly respond to me personally that pole dancing is such a good workout or they hear it is an awesome workout.
Times are changing. The perception is different for some but that stigma still exists. With a little education, people seem to understand better that what I do and teach is not related to their first reaction.
Do you have a favorite grip product?
I'm quite the rare breed in pole dancing in that I don't use grip aids unless its an alcohol and water mixed solution to spray and wipe down my poles. My hands are super grippy without the help of grip aids.
Have you or do you plan on ever competing?
I've submitted in the past when I felt the industry pressure of having to compete to feel validated in the industry. It's like if you don't compete, you're not allowed to have an opinion or you're nobody.
I don't feel competing is my thing. I've seen how hard the training process can be on someone's body and let's face it, I want to be doing this as long as I can injury free for as long as I can. I still toy around with the idea of the possibility but in reality, I don't have the time.
What motivational statement would you make to a frustrated pole dancer that is having a hard time progressing?
Everyone progresses at a different pace. We are all different and it's okay to not get a move. I feel like this is a mantra I am constantly repeating to my own students. I understand their frustration but I want them to know, there is always a solution to every problem and we will work through it together.
Tell us what inspired you to open your own studio?
I've worked for several different studios and just wasn't getting what I wanted to represent personally and professionally in the local scene. I wanted to create an environment that wasn't fixated on politics and drama. I felt like I was putting a lot of hard work and effort towards businesses that weren't mine and not seeing the rewards both personally and financially.
It was then that it occurred to me that I had the means and knowledge to move forward and stand on my own. Which is essentially what I've always done and decided in this regard it was time to do again.
What is the biggest challenge that you see pole students face in your studio?
Lately, I have noticed a challenge for new students to have the ability to trust themselves. I always observe this at the moment of the first spin. A student can't quite talk themselves into fully committing to trust themselves to allow their body to perform the first spin.
I think this inability to trust themselves is what leads to many students from coming back. Those that do come back have always gotten through that hurdle their next class and I hate to see someone throw in the towel because they couldn't get a move their first time.
Is pole dance 100% of your life's work now or do you work in another career as well?
I'm also a full time Registered Nurse. I worked for 12 years in a bedside clinical position prior to opening my own studio. I now work independently as a public health nurse in a clinic setting.
Do you have any new projects or products in the works to share with us?
I am working on integrating modern technology for a Virtual Assisted Studio (VAS). I'm really excited to integrate technological advances to their fullest potential to assist me in my teaching so I am freed up more during my classes. This new technique I'm working on will give me more opportunities for focusing individually on my students as they progress. I start production next month (June) for the transition to VAS at Pole Harmony.
Another project that is ongoing at my studio is the participation in the Local Supporting Local initiative. At Pole Harmony we only play local independent musicians in our classes. I'm extremely involved as a local small business owner and working together within the community has connected me to many unique opportunities through charities and helping others grow their business and art.
What is your YouTube channel, Instagram, Facebook, your blog and website contact for those of us who would like to follow or learn more about your pole dance style?