Got a Girl Crush On: Pole Fitness Instructor & Artist, Nicolle Duquette
Photos and interview by Sharon Goldberg, forward by Meg Wachter
Pole dancing has a longer history associated with fitness, than it has had with women taking off their clothes. The Chinese had more acrobatic tricks with their poles, Indians used it as a means of training for wrestling, and finally the erotic influence slipped in during the Great Depression in traveling fairs and circuses–with dancers grinding against the tent poles. Fast forward to today and it’s quickly gaining the respect it deserves–be it the hard working ladies at a club, or the equally hard working ladies competing in competitions and petitioning to bring this sport to the Olympics. Here’s a brief interview with role model and fitspiration woman, Nicolle Duquette on her path to becoming empowered by pole dancing and the community of women (and men) that power it.
I got into pole dancing my last year in college. I wanted a flexible, easy, lucrative part-time job… I decided to be a waitress at a strip club. I found exotic dance to be incredibly hypnotizing. The way they danced was suggestive, but the movements were certainly challenging.
I quickly found that the dancers weren’t the ones being exploited, nor did they need to be saved. They were very much in control of what they didn’t and did do, and a lot of them at the very least FELT empowered.
One of the dancers had recently started a pole fitness studio. I took a class with her and I was terrible at it. It was just me in the class, there was no structure, and I clammed up under her watchful eyes. So I bought a Lil Mynx pole and turned to YouTube. I spent several years off and on, teaching myself pole tricks via the Internet, and trial and error. I’ve since been X-pert certified to teach pole, but being self-taught gave me a better understanding of the physics behind even the scarier pole tricks. Probably because I fell out of them. A lot.
I’ve been a pole instructor for over 3 years now. This is my first business venture though. I didn’t set out to open up my own pole dance studio- I never had ambitions to be a business owner. But when I moved to the Hudson Valley from Brooklyn, I missed teaching so much… So I built Hudson Valley Pole Arts out of a deep love for pole and a desire to share that love with the people of Hudson Valley. It’s not always easy, but it’s always rewarding. Words can’t describe how empowering it is to build something from the ground up, take on obstacles head on, shake off the jealous haters, and watch your creation flourish.
I chose to call my studio Hudson Valley Pole ARTS (instead of dancing or fitness), because the term ‘art’ is all-encompassing.
Yes, pole is athletic and physically challenging. Yes, it’s inherently sensual. Is it just fitness or just exotic dance? No.
Art is the flow between moves: the convergence of sex appeal, gymnastics, and the dancer’s own interpretation or style. I believe that’s part of what makes it empowering: the right to choose your own direction. If you want to roll around on the floor or use the pole to gyrate and booty-pop, that’s your prerogative. You can choose to revel in your sexuality in this safe space. If you want to utilize the pole to do crunches a million different ways, do it. If you only care about hanging upside-down and backflipping to the floor, let pole be your apparatus for acrobatics. Pole art can be all or one of these things, but no matter which you choose, you will see your body change, you will do things you never thought you could, and you’ll gain confidence.
Pole is the total package and I really believe that, which is why I love what I do so much. It’s rewarding to see these physical and mental transformations in women.
And as you fall in love with yourself and your own movement, you will also fall in love with your community.
Pole dancing attracts open-minded ladies willing to get in touch with their inner badass, so no matter the difference in background, dance style, or body type, you will have a scantily-clad sisterhood supporting you!