Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • April 2017
Written by 

Do not give up on yourself and your passion

I have been dancing my entire life. When it was time to decide the next step after high school I knew that I wanted to major in dance. However, my love and passion while doing so began to fade. I was constantly competing with students next to me to be chosen to perform. I did not feel comfortable expressing myself verbally or through dance with the people around me. I felt judged for the things my body could not do in dance technique. By the time I graduated I was sure that I just wanted to find a normal desk job and let dance fall by the wayside. I was never chosen to perform much; I was criticized because my strong body was not as flexible as other students. I did not move in the same way as other students. Dance had become something that was a chore, and I did not believe myself to be skilled in it any longer. I had negative self-talk about how it was all a dream that would come to a stop after graduation, because sometimes we need to be realistic in our expectations of ourselves and come to terms with reality. Right? Wrong.

After graduation and finally finishing a bachelor’s degree in fine art, I did not feel proud. I felt that I had wasted my time while others were out getting degrees in science, and business. That was until I found a place that not only welcomed women but encouraged them to be strong, and to be themselves. I had always wanted to try pole dance. As a dancer whose feet were always on the ground and who admired the upper body strength I knew it had to take I was not sure if I would do well at it but I loved it anyway. My first class already felt successful. It was only day one and not only was I being encouraged and supported by the women around me for what my body could do, I also felt pride.

As a beginner in pole I was already addicted. It was the highlight of my Monday to know that I could go somewhere and practice and be guided by knowledgeable instructors. I had little successes every week and they were celebrated. I began to feel that passion for dance and movement again. As I moved past the beginner stages and into an intermediate place I was overwhelmed with joy that I did not quit dancing as I had considered so many times before. It was a revival to my heart and soul! I continued to progress and made friends along the way, bonding over our safe space to be ourselves, and the strength we were gaining physically and mentally. Our bodies are very vulnerable. To be judged based on the way it does or does not move can be debilitating. Pole showed me that I could be strong and flexible, and defy gravity in a way I never thought possible.

At this moment, I could not be more proud that not only have I found a way to continue dancing after college, but I have completely changed my mind and the judgments I had made toward my talent and my body. After six months of practicing the aerial arts I was able to show off what I had learned in the Aerial Dance Pole Exercise Christmas show performance. I was soon after offered a chance to train as a new instructor at the studio, which I am so grateful to be able to do.

My experience goes to show that if you have a passion for something it will seek you out. Do not give up on yourself. If I had decided that dance was no longer for me, and if I had let that negative self-talk win, I would not have had the same opportunities. Starting pole dance gave me my self-confidence back. I am doing things now I would have never thought possible. It is an avenue of becoming an even better version of oneself while building camaraderie with those who share the interest. Let pole show you what you can do for yourself, as it showed me. 

Olivia Meese

Olivia Meese is an instructor at Aerial Dance Pole Exercise in Appleton. With a degree in dance, multiple fitness degrees and a passion for the art form, join her for an inspiring class by registering online at or call 920-750-1441.

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