‘Pole dancing is about self-expression,’ says Anusha Swamy

TNIE recently caught up with Anusha Swamy who has made her mark as a makeup artist, choreographer and pole dance coach
Each spin, climb, and pose brought her a rush of exhilaration and a sense of liberation unlike anything she had felt before, says Anusha Swamy.
Each spin, climb, and pose brought her a rush of exhilaration and a sense of liberation unlike anything she had felt before, says Anusha Swamy.Express

KOCHI: Anusha Swamy has had an interesting career journey spanning multiple domains. The 33-year-old who hails from Chennai excels as a professional makeup artist and educator, dance choreographer and instructor, pole dance coach, pottery enthusiast, and social media influencer.

However, pole dancing was what stuck with her. Each spin, climb, and pose brought her a rush of exhilaration and a sense of liberation unlike anything she had felt before.

Currently, Anusha is in Varkala to conduct a workshop on pole dancing. It promises an immersive experience in pole dancing techniques paired with beach-side fitness routines, flexibility training, and strength exercises.

TNIE catches up with Anusha for a chat about her career, her ideas about pole dancing as a form of self-expression and physical artistry, and more...

How did your journey from classical dance to becoming a professional makeup artist and eventually discovering pole dancing unfold?

My tryst with classical dance styles began when I was six. I started with bharatanatyam and then pursued kuchipudi for almost five years. Eventually, I got fascinated by Western and Latin American dance styles.

While dancing continued on one side, like many kids back then, I was intrigued by cinema and knew early on that I wanted to be a choreographer. As a first step, I started as an assistant choreographer in the film industry and participated in several television competitions, reality dance shows, and stage performances; all of these sort of helped me to get into movies.

At 15, I got the chance to assist Prabhudeva in a movie, which was a dream come true. I continued working with other choreographers like Lawrence and Brindha Master for about four years. The journey in showbiz was interesting, however, at the age of 25, I felt the industry was too commercial for my interest as I was more into the art form.

So, I decided to take a break and explore makeup for a change and gradually donned the role of a professional makeup artist. At 28, I had a renewed interest in dancing, partly because I missed it. I was clueless about where to start. I got introduced to pole dancing while on a vacation in Australia. Intrigued by the form, I decided to give a shot at a pole dancing studio nearby.

Initially, I found it incredibly challenging, but decided to pursue it. When the pandemic hit, I turned to online classes. Luckily, my friend got me a pole and I learned as much as I could from online instructors worldwide. It was great and much easier with no distractions, as I spent six months at home, learning.

How has the transition to teaching pole dancing been like?

Teaching was never part of the plan. I just wanted to dance as and when I could. Whenever I posted videos on Instagram, people would ask whether I would take classes. Being trained in pole dancing for over two years, I thought maybe I should start teaching as not many people did it back then. Also, teaching helps you learn a lot too. I started with a couple of friends, and as word spread, more turned up. That’s how I started the pole camp. Recently, one of my students came first in a pole dance competition in Bengaluru. That was a big moment for me. Looking back on how far we have come makes all the effort and pain worth it. There’s no turning back or quitting anymore.

You do pottery as well. How have you been able to balance multiple interests and passions from a very young age?

I do pottery as it’s fun. I had to take a break from pole dancing following a minor injury. I was restless during this phase, so I picked up pottery. I don’t practice it professionally though. It is possible to manage multiple interests if you make time for it. Whether it’s a relationship, life, hobby, or career, everything works out if you give it time and stay mindful. Setting goals and staying the course is important, and I believe I have those qualities.

Why do you believe everyone should try pole dancing at least once?

You will notice physical changes in your body, not just in appearance, but in functionality. Looks are just a bonus. Being able to lift heavy things or playing with your child without feeling tired or fatigued are significant benefits. I invest in pole dancing as it helps me get better, stronger, and more flexible. When you realise you can move your body in various ways and have control over it, it builds confidence. This sense of control makes you feel capable of anything. That’s why I believe everyone should try pole dancing at least once.

There are some misconceptions about pole dancing. How do you address them?

It’s the movies that give these perceptions. That isn’t what pole dancing is about. It is much more; it’s a physically and mentally demanding activity, similar to swimming, weightlifting, or boxing. The misconception lies in the belief that pole dancing is linked to club dancing, sex and nudity, which is not true. There is nothing wrong with dancing in a club either. Pole dancing is about self-expression and athleticism.

What is Movement A?

Movement A is my project, which is essentially a synthesis of everything I have learned from classical dancing, Western and Latin American styles, yoga, pole dancing, and strength training. It’s about integrating these diverse disciplines to teach people how to move effectively and fluidly.

How do you approach choreographing a new routine? Do you start with music or moves or a particular theme?

For me, music is the key. I don’t actively search for songs, I let them find me, like a random play on radio or other mediums. If it clicks, I will listen to it repeatedly, sometimes 50 to 100 times to let the music guide my creativity. (laughs). My choreography is never planned, it’s always spontaneous and improvised. That’s why the dance sequences you see in my reels are not pre-choreographed and have no edits—they are authentic expressions of the music and my immediate inspiration.

What are some of your future goals and projects related to pole dancing?

At present, I’m in Varkala and hosting a retreat at Calaila Boutique Stay. I’m excited as it’s my first time in Kerala. It’s a unique opportunity as I will not only focus on pole dancing but also have beach sessions, flexibility training, and strength exercises. We are hoping to organise more such retreats across India, especially in South India, as we see great potential here for more pole retreats.

What can people expect from the workshop?

People can experience what pole dancing feels like, what it is, and how liberating you will feel once you try it. I urge everybody to come.

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