Suzanne Robson - Gemma Dear Award Winner 2018.
PDC Approved 3 star pole dancing instructor Suzanne Robson was nominated for the Gemma Dear Award by Tempest Pole Dance studio owner Mandy Williams.
Mandy submitted the following nomination:
"I would like to nominate one of my instructors Suzanne Robson for this award.
Suzy has been a Pole Instructor at Tempest Dance for just over a year and she has full body eczema.
This has become progressively worse over the last year and has left her in a lot of pain and constant scratching. This skin condition has also rendered her whole body red, dry and scaley. In all of this time never has she cancelled a class or let me or her students down.
She visits the hospital each week before one of her classes to receive treatment which makes her skin very tight and often painful. Despite this she continues to plan fun and interesting classes.
One of her most recent treatments involved wearing a full body bandage over thick slippery cream. She wore leggings over the top and still taught her classes. This greasy treatment means she really struggles to stick to the pole, so her own practise is suffering. It really frustrates Suzy as she feels she cannot progress as much as she could without the eczema. Despite this she regularly attends workshops and training, aware that she won't achieve as much due to the fact that she simply cannot grip effectively onto the pole.
She has even performed twice in public in support of Tempest this year, knowing that she cannot perform at her best or even look her best because of her skin.
She is desperate to do her Level 5 PDC Grading and Intermediate Spin City Instructor training but feels she can't as she cannot hold moves, such as a Jade, without sliding down the pole.
Suzy is so positive around her students so no-one really knows how much this skin condition gets her down.
Even knowing that she has been nominated for an award would give her a boost and will let her know how much she is valued at Tempest Dance Studio."
We spoke to Suzanne to find out how she felt about being nominated for the award:
How did you feel when you heard you had won the Gemma Dear award?
I was shocked when Mandy told me that I had won an award as I didn’t know that she had even nominated me.
I couldn’t understand why she had as for me it’s just something I’ve dealt with my whole life.
If there is one thing that comes from winning, is I hope that someone who thought that they couldn’t do pole because of their skin may read the story and realise they can.
What plans do you have for your pole future?
I am hoping to complete my PDC level 5, as well as doing my next pole instructor training (intermediate: spin city).
I have also been considering entering a competition as a pole doubles, with my doubles partner Kerry-lynn. But I’m still on the fence and need some convincing.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what got you into pole?
I currently work as a support worker with mental health and learning disabilities, and teach Pole dancing 3 times a week.
I started pole at the age of 30 in 2015 (now 33) and wish I had done it years ago. I’ve danced throughout my life, starting at the age of 4 doing the obligatory ballet and tap class, even at that young age I knew it wasn’t for me. I moved on to doing gymnastics for around 4/5 years before deciding on going to a local dance studio (Richardson’s dance studio, Bishop Auckland). There I did Latin and freestyle. It was here when I discovered my love of dance. I decided to go to York St. John’s uni to study dance, I obtained a BA hons in performance:Dance.
From this I taught in primary schools for a few years until I broke my ankle rock climbing. I had a break from dancing for about 3 years then I decided to try pole dancing. it’s my new love, and I haven’t looked back after finding Tempest dance studio (Durham).
How does your eczema make you feel on a daily basis?
Eczema is a funny one, as well as it being itchy, sore, dry and scaly, it also bashes your confidence. Some days I’m very self conscious especially when it is on my face. As I said before I’ve had it my entire life so I’ve kinda just had to get used to it, and get on with things.
The most frustrating thing for me is the ability to grip the pole due to having to use ointments and topical steroids. It really impairs my grip strength and limits me to what moves I am able to do.
Do you have good and bad days?
Yes, some days are better than others. I went the best part of 10 years without having a breakout. Within the past 2 years it’s been the worst it’s ever been. I’ve had copious amounts of creams, lotions and potions, as well as oral steroids. The most recent treatment I’ve had is UVB phototherapy which is like a high powered sunbed. At the worst I had to wear full body bandages for a week for bed and under my work clothing. Some days I’m hopeful as it seems to start clearing up, but it can change within hours.
Have you felt supported during your journey?
My students are very supportive and understanding, although they have nicked named me “crocodile“, and “slimy Suzy” Lol, I do grease the poles up. But in all fairness I love teaching and I love all of my students.
One of my biggest pole influences is Tiff Finney (pictured left with Suzanne), I attended one of her workshops earlier in the year and she made a huge impact on me. I know she meets hundreds of people so most likely won’t remember me lol, but after the workshop she came over to me and said my dancing was a pleasure to watch, and she couldn’t understand why I am so quiet (I get withdrawn when I’m out of my comfort zone). Her words have stuck with me, she is such a warm person and is very positive. She promotes body positivity and is a big believer in love your own skin, I know this is very true but sometimes it’s easier said than done. Hopefully I’ll manage to get to another one of her workshops in the future.
Most of all though I’d like to thank my fiancé Richard for all of his support attending hospital appointments with me, and having to deal with days when I’m so sore and uncomfortable I can’t sleep or bare to be touched. I’ve never really told him, but he’s my rock and keeps me positive. He always tells me how beautiful I am (scabs n all), and that he is proud of everything I’ve done/do.
I’d also like to thank Mandy who Is not only my boss but is one of my close friends. She’s supported me in and out of the studio. We have an amazing working relationship, and a close friendship. She’s the glue that holds #teamtempest together and she has made the studio a friendly pole family environment. Hopefully there will be many more years of harmonious poling together.