PDC Approved 4 star pole dancing instructor Karen Currie receives The 2016 Grading Assessor Award.
Pole dancing instructor Karen Currie is one of three people to achieve this award for outstanding contribution to the pole dance grading system (AAP). The other 2 awards went to Mary Ellyn Weissman and Jane Cole.
Karen is the principal instuctor and founder of Princess K Fitness, South Coast, UK. We spoke to Karen to find out more about her contribution to the pole dancing industry, her amazing love of her pole dancing students and her thoughts on the pole dance grading process.
What do you recommend about the pole dance grading process?
PDC gradings are great for students because they provide a logical progression and recognition of achievement. Pole may seem quite established to those of us who’ve been doing it for some time now but
there are still very few respected and globally recognised organisations for potential students to use for relevant information about levels and Moves.
I do recommend the grading process to others frequently. I feel that there is still plenty of scope for individuality within the grading system and for students/instructors to be able to find creativity and to choose their own style of Pole.
What do you think is the hardest part of the pole dance grading process?
I think the hardest part about the gradings is ensuring a lack of bias along with providing constructive criticism. Most of my students are doing Pole as a hobby and are not competitive about it so gradings, whilst giving them something to aim for, should not, in my opinion, be too a harsh a measure of a part time form of exercise.
Do you have any more in-house gradings lined up?
We will continually be grading and we are hoping to run another group grading session in 2016 with some individual gradings planned too.
How long have you been pole dancing?
I’ve been Pole’ing since 2007 - with a couple of breaks.
What got you into pole dancing?
I got into Pole after attending my sister-in-law’s Hen Party (my brother-in-law runs Strawberry Moons). The hen party included a pole - everyone had a go except me! I also got to know Clive Coote (owner of Vertical Leisure) around the same time through powerboat racing - he had a pole on the front of his boat and, of course, it was sponsored by Xpole!
Aside from teaching pole do you have any other business interests?
I do run a construction company with my husband, Ian, during the day as well as teaching Pole now. Before teaching, I was a pole student for about 2 years.
What is your Favourite Pole Move?
Most Polers find it hard to name that one favourite Move so, like them, I’ll choose a couple …. Cross Ankle Release, it’s a crowd pleaser and can be done dramatically fast or tantalisingly slowly - Dangerous Brian, another laying back pose that I just loved the first time I got it - Shoulder Mount/Dismount, another one that, once achieved, feels as though the strength is finally working!
What is your Nemesis Pole Move.
My Nemesis Move is Phoenix - with some rotator cuff injuries, I now find that my shoulder tries to protect itself with Reverse Grab Moves so this may remain a Nemesis for me. I’m also still a bit of a work in progress with Ayesha and Brass Monkey - balance and splits are always a challenge for me!
What made you start teaching pole?
I started teaching because the school I was going to did not have the safest of practices, in my opinion - no insurances, no real pole training etc. I also knew that, like me, many slightly old gym goers might find Pole more fun that standard forms of exercise - it became my niche to start with!
Have you ever competed in a pole dancing competition?
I’ve never competed - part of me would love to but there isn’t a competition out there that suits my abilities now!
Which polers inspire you?
There is such a wealth of pole talent in the world now that it becomes harder and harder to choose favourites. I often marvel at the Russian and Australian Polers sense of adventure in trying so many new Moves but find myself always preferring our home-grown talent; Sarah Scott, Bendy Kate, Dan Rosen and Sally-Ann Giles are all incredible current talents and I’ve been really lucky to train with Sam Remmer and Lucy Misch as lovely ‘old school’ Polers but my favourite will always be Annie Norris.
Aside from pole dancing what other interests do you have?
I took up Yoga in January this year (2016) and I’m really enjoying it - I have 1:1 sessions every week and feel that it is my treat to myself. I also love to read - and listen to audiobooks whenever I’m in the car, I leave the music for Pole classes!
I have the most adorable 3 year old Maltese called Poppet (pictured left). My kids have left home now so she’s definitely a child replacement!
What is your preferred pole footwear?
I usually Pole in bare feet due to the restrictions in the venues where we teach but I enjoy having a play in heels when I can!
What is your preferred pole diameter?
I definitely prefer the 45mm although we do use both 45mm and 50mm in classes.
How about pole finishes?
I’ve only ever tried the chrome poles - I’d be interested to try others.
Static or spinning?
I generally only use static poles - I do think spinning pole is a discipline on its own and I have had some training but feels that I need a lot more before taking it on board to teach.
Any interesting student stories?
We’ve had plenty of students who’ve left for maternity or due to injury and returned thinking that they’d never be able to achieve their previous favourite Moves … with a little patience, those Moves have come flooding back to squeals of delight. Pole is very forgiving when you’ve had time away!
We’ve also had some student success at Pole competitions which, as a non-competitive school, was a real achievement.
Do you use any grip-aids?
I don’t use any grip aids - I’ve always been very lucky with grip! We have a variety of grips aids available in classes although I actively encourage students to try and work without them as much a possible. the favourites seem to be Dry Hands, Dew Point and Girly Grip - individual students will try gloves too.
What plans do you have for your pole future?
I look forward to continuing my own Pole journey for some time to come, at 54, I know that I am an older Poler but I love to keep pushing that envelope just a little!! Like most Polers, I have Moves that I’m determined to get and that list keeps growing so there’s no reason to stop just yet!!
I hope that Princess K Fitness continues its journey as a Pole school for some years to come, we have a great team of 7 Instructors with 2 currently in training - we like to offer fun classes for all abilities and the opportunity to train with some Elite Polers too.
If you are a pole instructor who would like to find out more about becoming a PDC authorised grading assessor or if you are a pole student wanting to undertake submit an online grading to one of our pole grading assessors, just drop us an e-mail and we will send you more information. Our AAP pole dancers memberships include one free on-line grading and loads of other marvellous pole dancers discounts.