Curves for a Cure

When I began my feminine practice a few years ago, I was able to tap in to something I hadn’t really ever felt before. It was deep, vast, and mysterious. I knew I had found some thing really special.

It is only during my feminine practice that I can rest my thinking mind and transport to a completely different realm. I go to this realm on a regular basis. It’s seeking a refuge from the masculinity and demands of modern day society.

My first introduction to feminine movement, a key component in my feminine practice, was through S Factor, which combines sensual dance on the floor, wall, and pole. An intuitive epiphany led me to the pole dancing studio that magical autumn when the universe gave me exactly everything I needed to start a new phase of healing and stepping into my true self.

S Factor was started by actress Sheila Kelley who was introduced to pole dancing through an acting role. The “S” stands for the curves of a woman’s body. This dance practice is best described in the words of Sheila, who gave the following Tedx talk about this transformative practice.

You can also get a more in-depth look at how women experience this practice through the film Strip Down Rise Up on Netflix.

There are many S Factor studios around the country, and the one I attend is called Steel and Grace. The class is structured in a way that is accessible to women of all ages, shapes, and sizes. There are multiple levels, and the beginner one is truly for any woman regardless of her background. Having never taken a dance class before, I was nervous going to the studio that first time. While I wasn’t entirely comfortable with my body and being vulnerable in front of other people, my inner wise woman told me to keep going. The welcoming instructors create a very warm environment that allowed me to let my guard down.

When I step into the studio, I begin to drop into a state of relaxation. The mirrored walls are covered with luxurious deep purple curtains. Two chandeliers hanging from the ceiling provide a warm light. Six poles stand in the center of the room. 

We start with about a 40 minute warm-up, but this is not your average stretching routine. Time itself feels like it’s slowing down. Eyes closed, you can begin to drop into your body. Some moments I feel like I am in outer space floating in an endless but safe darkness, and my body begins to feel weightless. Other moments I feel sassy and in control. While there is a communal component to the class because women are moving through the practice together in a big circle, I often feel like I am the only one in the room because I’m uniquely tuned into how I feel. 

It’s like the flipping of a switch.

The movements involve a lot of waving of the body and accentuating the hips and chest. Women are invited to stick their booty out and feel their curves. If something doesn’t feel good we are encouraged to change the movement. The music guides the mood of the practice. Some of the songs make you angry. Other songs make you feel erotic, alive, or even sad. Emotions course through the body.

“As the body becomes more conscious, its messages become clearer and more trustworthy.”

The Pregnant Virgin: A Process of Psychological Transformation, Marion Woodman

By the time you’ve made it through the warm-up, you feel awakened to yourself, and I often experience the sensation that I could do anything, conquer anything, and accomplish my wildest dreams. 

Have I mentioned that this is just the warm-up?

For the remainder of the class–which at this point is about 45-60 minutes–you practice a simple dance routine together and get acquainted with your pole. Sexy walking around the pole on your tippy toes and rubbing your hand through your hair and body is highly encouraged. While you focus a lot on the technique at first, which is important because you want to make sure you’re engaging the right muscles to avoid injury, every time you return to the studio to practice the moves again and again, you can really begin to zero in on how your body really feels swinging around that pole and pressed up against the wall. When you nail a move for the first time, it’s golden.

When you walk out of class, you feel amazing. Like your truest, strongest, most authentic self. All the worries that plague me throughout the day dissipate. I am renewed. I am recharged. I’m ready to stand up for myself and fight for the life that I want to have.  

That is the power of honoring your sensual feminine body.

S Factor is helping me to process my frustrations, grief, anger, and feelings of helplessness regarding my disability, which has put my life on hold for most of 2021. I am unable to participate in the pole dancing component of S Factor because of my muscle sprains. However, I still dance in the warm-up and floor and wall routine.

Last year when the unthinkable force the studio to close, I grieved the loss of my ability to dance on the pole. Joining the studio again when it reopened earlier this year (once we all figured out how to be indoors safely), I thought the worst was over. I don’t know when I’ll be able to feel the cold, smooth surface of the pole again. In all likelihood, I have many more months to go.

But I am grieving more than just the loss of pole dancing right now. I am mourning the endurance and youth of my body, as well as the feeling of being in control of all aspects of my life. I am unable to work and care for myself like I am used to doing. I am being hit with the reality that my body is not invincible. This disability is changing my life. I don’t know what returning to normal will look like, but I feel certain it will never be the same.

But I keep dancing because I don’t know what else to do. At the end of the day all you ever really have is your self and what are you believe in. Your body will change. People and money will come and go. But the essence of Krissy will remain. I am holding on to her as best as I can.