Top of the Morning, June 22, 2014

Top of the Morning, June 22, 2014

Our e3 cover story on pole dancing earned me an odd look at home from the wife and kids. So I asked Cass Palmer, Pole Dancer No. 1 in our community, what kind of reaction she gets when she tells of her expertise.

"Just like any other aerial art, pole is not something to be ashamed of," she said. "My mantra is: 'Ain't nothing wrong with pole dancing!' Because, there isn't."

Pole dancing is as much for fitness as it is for entertainment these days. Palmer's a high- flyin' example: She runs her own studio (Venue 51) and runs around the competition (in August she'll compete at the North American Pole Dance Championships).

Here's more from Cass, a native of Louisiana, a resident of Champaign and a PhD candidate at the UI:

What makes a good pole dancer?

An open mind and a willing body. There is no prerequisite of extreme flexibility or strength. I teach people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

Is pole dancing a sport?

I see it partially that way. However, because of my years of training as a ballet dancer, music and movement (in any capacity) will always be an art to me.

Who's in better shape: pole dancers or, say, college basketball players?

We certainly are! Pole dancers use all the core muscle groups simultaneously in order to climb, invert and sustain movement on the pole. Not only that, but we have to make it look good! And that's what takes the art up a notch.

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