How do we respond in times like this? We dance. It's what we do. It is, to quote a West Wing episode, "how we enter the world." It is, to quote a video of an Australian poler going around right now, "it's how I locate myself in my body." It's therapy when we're tired of arguing. It's political, enjoying being in our own bodies when the world condemns them. It's wordless connection with our community. And it's work, strengthening our muscles and our minds to keep keep resisting.
How do we respond in times like this, as people of privilege? A POC student of mine posted a quote about how white liberals have been talking about "punching Nazis" - but really, how many people do you know who have punched a Nazi? Not as many as have racist relatives that they don't confront. One of her concrete suggestions for actions people of privilege can take, instead of talking about punching Nazis, is to support artists of color.
Which spurred me to finish this post I'd been working on for too long. As we travel across the country photographing pole, we see thousands, if not tens of thousands, of performances. The number of POC dancers has been slowly growing through the years, but in some areas it's still rare to see a dancer of color at a competition. And on the average, they're also far more likely to put a political piece onstage. This is how they enter the world. And how many of their videos get shared in the community, if they don't win a huge title? How many get shared even if they do place or win? Not enough. So here's a signal boost for some really remarkable POC we've seen dance throughout the past few years - a mix of regional champions, POC who have placed but not won, who have competed at lower levels, and dancers who are known within their local pole community but should be more well known across our pole world.
Here's how I'm responding right now. Listen, appreciate, signal boost.
Click the play button on each one to watch them be amazing.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are so many incredible POC dancers competing at higher levels who deserve every word of praise - Phoenix Kazree, Ashley Fox, Crystal Belcher, Sasja Lee, Dalijah Franklin, Candace Cane, Kimmy, Jazzy Alix... This is not even a authoritative list (it was written by a white woman) - but Black Girls Pole has you covered on that. However, these are dancers whose performances have stood out to me over the past couple years, that maybe you haven't heard of. And maybe now you can go support their art.
And to conclude, I have to share (again) the single most stunning piece of #blackgirlmagic I've ever seen. Still one of the most incredible pieces of art I think any pole dancer has put on any stage. Thank you for your movement, Crystal - and all of the amazing POC dancers in our community, including those mentioned above.