I have been blessed with extraordinary pole dance teachers. Their guidance, passion, love and support helps make this fascinating journey possible. I am particularly grateful for the time and energy they devote to making their playlists. Because music is the muse that makes our bodies move.
I’m sharing a bit of their magic with you through wisdom, cover songs I’ve loved in their classes, and their favorite picks.
Ana, my first pole dance teacher, filled her warm-ups with imagery from nature. In the early days, imagining my toes dragging through sand or the texture of pine needles on my arm quieted my mental chatter. Best of all, those metaphorical immersions on shore and in forest planted the seeds for my beloved beach dancing practice.
I associate Stairway to Heaven by Dolly Parton with Ana and our class. We also danced to the original by Led Zeppelin, which probably lead me to double my pleasure with back-to-back dances to originals and covers.
One of Ana’s favorite covers:
We often danced to Prince, the original artist. Ana’s eclectic taste and sampling from all genres showed me that anything goes for pole.
Though Ana doesn’t teach a weekly class, you can still experience her magic in workshops with Cirque Noir.
Debra encouraged me to ‘let go’ in dance and with music. Again. And again. The first time I stumbled into my strut was to American Woman by Lenny Kravitz in her class. Later, she introduced me to my “unleashed song”—Swing by Savage. Though not a cover, it’s still one of my go-to songs.
Deb currently enjoys:
“Its dark, slow tempo takes me over the edge…” ~ Deb
Original is by Ben E. King. Currently, Ki:Theory’s music is available for free download at kitheory.com.
After teaching a recent Foundation series at Steel Heart Dance Deb shared: “I heart teaching new pole dancers, it’s what I was put on this planet to do.”
I concur. She made me feel supported and safe as I faced the pole, frozen in fear. She cajoles and nudges at just the right moment when you’re feeling hesitant. Try her Virgin, Foundation or more advanced classes at Steel Heart Dance.
Amanda, my current (and long time) teacher has guided and held space for countless tears, smiles and breakthroughs. Highlights include the class that made me go from contemplating a book to actually writing it and a month of tears that cracked open my heart in a huge love growth-spurt. Selecting one insight from the many as the most significant is difficult, but I have to choose: Trusting my intuition.
She’s also introduced me to dozens of covers. Song to the Siren by This Mortal Coil is a class favorite. It’s a fascinating blend of Tim Buckley’s Song to the Siren and the Dead Can Dance’s Song of Sophia.
Another special cover, from a bittersweet moment, is True Colors by Ane Brun.
Not surprisingly, it was hard for Amanda to choose her favorite cover to share.
“This is really difficult because I LOVE LOVE LOVE covers! I am going to go a little obscure and pick:
Originally by the band, The Knife. I love how he totally changes the mood in the song and really adds a depth and vulnerability to the sound and lyrics.” ~ Amanda
Come dance with us some Thursday morning! Until then, experience some of Amanda’s magic in her jewelry.
Sheila, founder of S Factor, instigated my extraordinary journey with her enticing hip circles.
I’ve learned much from Sheila over the years. The key that shifted my personal journey was discovering that I possessed the power to quiet my mind and let my body lead just like Dorothy with the click of her heels by following my senses.
And the critical big picture for our future: That we as women have the right and the responsibility to create our culture and change the world.
If you know Sheila, you know she adores Rage Against the Machine. And is bound to play songs by them during workshops and retreats. Though I often feel attacked by their music, in my first workshop with Sheila, my emotion mirrored Rage’s cover of How I Could Just Kill a Man (originally by Cypress Hill); dancing to it I experienced incredible release and relief.
Though Sheila and I generally have different taste in music I like her current favorite.
“My favorite cover song to S to is…….hmmmmm……….
“I love this version because it touches a deep part of my womanhood, my heart, my body, my sexual soul in a way that the original did not. I believe this is because this version is slowed down to a more syrupy enveloping sound. The singers voice completely breaks any definition of what love is supposed to be and allows the pure spirit of humanity with all of our vulnerabilities and foibles to come to the surface and be celebrated instead of ridiculed as weak.” ~ Sheila
The original version is by Dolly Parton. And according to tvrecaps and the New Yorker this appears to be a slowed version of Parton’s vocals, rather than a cover sung by a male voice. Interesting twist.
Your next chance to S with Sheila is in Hawaii.
Ali, director of S Factor teacher training, helped me find my way to playfulness. And begin to connect with it no matter my mood.
Irrepressible smiling when I’m joyful. Irreverent stomping when I hate a song. Inquisitive hunt for fun during challenges like pole ups. Let’s Dance by M Ward reminds me that fun is found in the flow of dance. When Ali suggested doing pole ups in flow during that song I wondered, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Ali’s favorite cover right now is:
“They are an acapella group so almost all the sounds/singing are raw voices (besides one cello) which gives it a new richness and truthful emotion. The original is such a heart-open song, but the power and less ‘produced’ feel of the acapella just slays me to the core. This version also builds in a way that gives me permission to open and expand over and over. I love it.” ~ Ali
I’m looking forward to dancing to this one; I adore the version by A Great Big World featuring Christina Aguilera.
In addition to Ali’s regular class in Los Angeles you can learn from her during a full day of Sexy Fitness in December.
Alexandra whispered to my soul that there is incredible joy in fire. I was focused on passion or rage. She highlighted the joy in sunshine. And reminded me of the comfort and warmth received snuggling next to a hearth.
The song I most associate with Alexandra is Paris, Texas by Gotan Project, originally by Ry Cooder. I adore the slow mesmerizing heart beat of this song. It takes me back the day I understood the meaning of ‘ecstatic dance’ in her class.
Alex shared three of her favorites:
“Original is by Patsy Cline. I like it because it has a haunting feel to it.”
“Original is by Rolling Stones. “I like the whisper and cooing of her voice. It feels like she is going under the notes.”
“Original is by Awolnation. I like her voice and how she delivers the song without too much punch.” ~ Alex
Though Alex doesn’t currently teach a regular pole dance class you can take pilates with her in New York to strengthen those abs for pole.
Stacy creates playlists that make you feel like you’re surfing Pipeline on the north shore of Oahu. Sometimes she changes the music you’ve chosen for improvisation to help you ride the tube of a monster wave.
In one class when she changed my song to Lollipop by Madstyle (aka Madison); it felt like I’d caught a record breaking 20 foot wave instead of the average nine footer.
“I can dance to anything, so I’m sure most wouldn’t consider it a pole song but this is the one that stands out. Originally by Rascal Flatts” ~ Stacy
I love that Stacy’s song is not what most would consider a pole song because it illustrates that every song is a pole song… to somebody.
Take a pole class with Stacy at Addiction Pole and Fitness and turn up the volume of your freestyle.
Susan helped me begin to keep some fire for myself rather than giving it all way with head flips, feisty pole spins and more. And in a playlist that began with Be My Baby by Leslie Mendelson she showed me how to shift from spent sadness after hours of crying to vulnerable enchantment.
Susan is a fan of:
“If I hurt you, I make wine from your tears” … how can one not love that! …. and, that wicked smile at the end …” ~ Susan
An INXS original. Susan wants the skirt too! Everyone needs to dance in a vinyl skirt at least once! Dance in one with Susan in Chicago.
Jennifer loves to experience new things and her classes remind me to play for its own sake, without the need to uncover an insight. And recently, after a multi-month musical rut — when no songs made my body move, and worse, the persistent after pole class high was MIA — four songs in her warm-up and my dance felt like coming home.
The following week she played a mash-up of Feelin’ Good by Nina Simone. I hated the song because I was just getting into Feelin’ Good portion when it was buried under Lil Wayne’s rap. I loved that I was reacting. And it can sometimes be just as satisfying to dance to a song you hate as one you love because you can bring your essence to it.
“(Bob Dylan) [This is] my favorite cover song of all time. I have danced to this SO MANY TIMES. I love the guitar/sitar and drums that wind their way into that driving thud and rock guitar. Menacing and sexy.”
“(Tears for Fears) I love this for the same darkness”
“(Whitney Houston) His voice, timing, breath = gold. I like when covers take the familiar and twist it in another artistic way.” ~ Jen
Keep an eye on the San Francisco S Factor schedule to take a pure dance class with Jennifer one friday night!
I hope listening and dancing to this music brings a bit of bliss to you. They are all incredible and I love them all!
Here’s the complete list.
- Stairway to Heaven by Dolly Parton
- Nothing Compares by Jimmy Scott
- American Woman by Lenny Kravitz
- Stand By Me by Ki:Theory
- Song to the Siren by The Chemical Brothers
- True Colors by Ane Brun
- Heartbeats by Jose Gonzalez
- How I Could Just Kill a Man by Rage Against the Machine
- Slow Ass Jolene by Show Tones
- Let’s Dance by M Ward
- Say Something by Pentatonix
- Paris, Texas – Gotan Projec
- Crazy by Laurel
- Sympathy for the Devil by Rickie Lee Jones
- Sail by Macy Gray
- Lollipop by Madstyle
- What Hurts the Most by Aaron Lewis
- Be My Baby – Leslie Mendelson
- Never Tear Us Apart by Paloma Faith
- Feeling Good by Nina Simone (Bassnectar remix) vs Where Da Cash At by Currensy & Lil Wayne (mashup)
- All Along the Watchtower by Bear McCreary
- Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Lorde
- How Will I Know by Sam Smith
Which are you yearning to dancing to first?