Consistency and dedication: two things that as pole dancers, we all struggle with.
It's easy to go to class, try a new move, get a halfway decent picture of it and call it "done." "I know that trick," we'll say later to friends. "I learned it in class last week!" But the truth of the matter is that you barely began work on that trick. It's the beginning of the journey, not the end.
Tiffany Jane is one of those polers that everyone marvels at - how is she so darn good? Every move is polished and camera-ready. Every angle is just right. And how is she still so darn good, after basically tearing half the cartilage in her entire dominant shoulder, and taking six months off pole to recover?
Tiffany began her collaboration with us not long after she started pole, when we were just a baby pole photography company. We've had the opportunity to watch her dancing develop up close, to see how she grows - and edits - her movement vocabulary. What stands out? Dedication. She dances all the time. When she's not dancing, she's stretching or doing acro yoga. Consistency. She trains every trick over and over, and records everything. Self-critique, but not self-shaming. She reviews her videos with an objective eye for what can be improved, but doesn't beat herself up when something doesn't work. She looks for new transitions in and out, new shapes within that trick, better lines. She understands what poses look good on her body. She's her own best coach. Point those toes! Straighten those knees! Try it again.
So when she arrives at our shoots, she always has a precise list of tricks or movement phrases to capture, and she knows how to get to the right angle. We can quickly capture the "standard" angle of the trick, so the rest of the shoot can be playtime. "What happens if I take my leg this direction?" "What happens if I look over here?" "Maybe I can do a hair toss halfway through." That playtime is often where our favorite images are created.
We asked Tiffany for a little insight into her pole journey, and where she wants her dance career to take her in life.
"I started figure skating when I was 10 years old and competed for 8 years before transitioning into coaching. It’s been a decade since I’ve stepped in an ice rink, and it wasn’t until I discovered pole dancing in August 2012, that I uncovered a deep passion and liberation through dance and movement.
My first class was with the incredible Sasja Lee. I was so intrigued by her strength and movement, I went home and immediately started looking up her videos on Youtube. All the different styles of dance got my attention and after 3-4 classes I was hooked."
"When I started pole, I didn’t have strength or body awareness, and I was extremely self-conscious. Pole provided an unexpected escape and I found the physical, mental, and emotional benefits thoroughly therapeutic. Social support was another benefit and these relationships are further evidence of how pole, and the community around it, brings happiness to my life. I love that pole can be whatever you want it to be; sexy, athletic, contemporary, and is open to people of all ages, body types, and backgrounds. There’s no greater feeling than trying something new, and being able to follow through because of the incredibly encouraging atmosphere."
"However, hard work and excitement came at a cost for me in the form a shoulder injury. After struggling to accept my injury and what a surgery meant for me, I felt compelled to try to inspire and motivate people going through their own difficulties.
The connections that I have made through sharing my own experience have been tremendous: to show that recovery is possible, to enjoy and learn from the recovery process, and to give back to a community that has given me so much more than I ever expected.
I also learned that recovery can inspire new movement and creations, bringing new depth to my appreciation for pole. My heart grows three sizes each time someone tells me that sharing my story, helped them share their story. I learn from this community as much as anyone may learn from me. That's why I'm so passionate about sharing my journey."
I want to help people achieve their goals and realize what they thought was impossible has always been within their grasp. I want to inspire others to find their own unique movement. I love watching people discover that they've had that all along."
Where do you want pole to take you and your life in 5 years?
"The pole community reaches all corners of the globe, and is supported by people from all walks of life, so to meet, teach, learn from, and collaborate with all of these people would be an incredible honor.
As someone who loves fashion and style, the few times that I've been fortunate enough to help design and create the persona that my peers use to tell a story on stage always inspires me. I would love to have the opportunity to help create pole-wear, to help people represent not only our community, but who they are as well. Activewear is something that we all spend our hard earned money on, so to help create something that gives back to the polers, yogis, and active-lifestyle people who push our culture is something I truly look forward to."
What about all that amazing chiffon? Is it photoshop magic? Definitely not. Tiffany put up an Instagram post awhile back with her advice to make the often-frustrating fabric cooperate on the pole:
"Tips for chiffon flailing:
1) You need lots of chiffon, I usually aim for 6 yards.
2) Practice taping yourself flailing with chiffon at home. Watch the videos & take note of what works & what doesn't. You don't want to waste time at your shoot with failing flails. ;)
3) Flail with big, controlled movement. Not too fast, not too slow. Grab the fabric at different spots for different arcs & waves. If I want a big chiffon wave, I usually grab towards the end of the fabric.
4) Don't forget the rest of your body & facial expressions. If the chiffon looks amazing, but you have constipation face, trex arm, sickled foot...no bueno. :)
5) Be prepared to do it over, & over, & over again at the shoot. It's exhausting, but worth it.
6) Work with photographers who understand your vision & have experience capturing movement. Just like @alloyimages. 😉"
You better believe the bloopers from these shoots are pretty hilarious. Here's a small collection of the silliness!
We're so appreciative to Tiffany for constantly inspiring us, for being such a great collaborator, and for supporting our little business from the very beginning.
If you want to be equally inspired, be sure to follow her banana-fueled, chiffon-flailing, jumping leaping dancing adventures in all the places:
On FB: www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=8609805
On Insta: www.instagram.com/titojane