Inspiring Pole Dancers - by PDC features writer Sophie Eminson.
Elena Gibson, who has been pole dancing for nearly twenty years now is a very inspiring woman. She began pole dancing every now and then in 1997, when she messed around on some poles in nightclubs where her and her friends went to watch pole dancers perform. She never imagined how big a part of her life it would become.
"Pole dancing makes Elena so happy, and gives her an opportunity to challenge herself to set new goals for training."
Elena was dancing for the National Ballet of Canada when she first became aware of pole dancing, however a car accident left her with a broken neck and the fear of never dancing again. She found the process of regaining fitness and strength very difficult and often boring, so when she found somewhere that she could practise pole dancing, she just had to start learning properly! Elena found it a lot more interesting than average exercise and discovered that it was a great way to rebuild her strength. She also loved the variety of ways she could express herself through it.
Elena states that she was not as strong as she is now when she danced ballet, as she has developed more muscle tone and the strength in her upper body and core strength has improved massively. Pole dancing was a brand new experience for Elena, as she had never worked with heights, and of course a spinning pole was a whole new world for this ballerina. Pole dancing makes Elena so happy, and gives her an opportunity to challenge herself to set new goals for training. It has also given her the freedom to create new pieces, which she enjoys doing as a choreographer, so much in fact that she pursued it enough to compete in and win the World Pole Dancing Championships in 2005. This was when she finally told her friends and family about what she was doing. Unfortunately, her parents were not as impressed as the other people in her life.
Elena has enjoyed combining her classical ballet training which is very strict and technique-based with the lack of structure in pole dancing. This has made it liberating for her to incorporate her classical training with elements of aerial circus and explore different themes within the choreography. She would perform anywhere and everywhere she was offered, including product launches, corporate events and festivals. She has even performed at Elton John’s White Tie and Tiara Ball, Dior and for Reise Gorbatcher’s Leukaemia Foundation, as well as many more. Elena quickly got the media’s attention with her unique combination of ballet and pole dancing, which meant that pole dancing was accepted more by wider audiences, and so she got involved with filming pole dancing for movies and musicals!
While Elena has always been a professional dancer, she inspires us even more with the fact that she is also a mother, coach, choreographer, business owner, company director and model. This is incredible as it truly proves her wide range of skills. She does admit, however that she could not live without her dancing and training. She expresses this love for pole dancing in the way she sees it as an art form through which people can tell stories an express emotion. Because of this, she is sceptical about its inclusion in the Olympics, as she fears that the expression and dance elements will be lost in the athletic discipline which will focus more on technique and pre-requested moves. Elena’s personal vision is that pole dancing will continue to gain more exposure through the performances of amazing dancers and that from this, more and more people will understand and accept it alongside other forms of dance.
For Elena, competing has failed to inspire her through a less than positive, unorganised competition experience in the past. She believes that her contribution to the pole dance community as an instructor and judge is the best way for her to support competitions. Although, she does love performing and tries to give a few performances each year. In 2004, she was teaching in one of the first London-based pole dance schools, where she met Nicky Smith, one of the first pole dance instructors in London. Elena learned to teach using the advanced course content created by Monica Wood. She found the beginner and intermediate curriculum to lack structure, but was not in a position to improve it at the time. She has learned through these experiences that working for herself as a performer and instructor is a better option for her, and so she opened her own studio in 2006 (Pole Dancing School) and has never looked back.
Elena is a PDC Pioneer Instructor. You can see Elenas Pioneer biography here.
Contact Elena to book performances and master-classes.
Here is a link to Elenas website www.poledancingschool.com
Elena also provides PDC Approved Instructor training.