Fly With Raven: Why I Opened a Seattle Pole Fitness Studio
“Leap and the net will appear” - John Burroughs
I was a drama kid. I’ve performed regularly in some capacity since I was in junior high — mostly plays, musicals, improv, and comedy. I was the not-quite triple threat: I could sing, I could act, and I could act like I could dance. In reality, I was more known for being clumsy and falling down a lot, relegated to the back of the chorus for the box step and easy arm choreography.
I accepted that as who I was and moved right on along for decades, never really making friends with movement or how to move my body gracefully. However, another dominating theme in my life is that I do the stuff that scares me. I don’t know quite when this started. Still, it’s propelled a lot of my choices, and I’ve never regretted it — even when it resulted in spectacular failure.
So, it was in that spirit at age 39, I auditioned for Seattle’s premiere chorus girl group, Sister Kate Dance Company. I did it as a challenge to myself to get prepared for an audition, be uncomfortable, give it my best, and learn from that audition experience. It was to my incredible joy and surprise that my ability to act like I could dance kicked in, and well, I made it into the company.
Working with this incredible group of women made me challenge my perceptions of how I move and what my body is capable of. It was a revelation. When the director of the dance company mentioned she’d started taking pole dancing lessons, I thought, “well, that would be interesting and out of my comfort zone!” And so I went, and it changed everything. I’d never before clicked with a movement art in that way. It all felt good in my body and my body was, well, good at it! Quickly, and covered in bruises (we call them “pole kisses”), I signed up for a membership and started taking classes as often as I could.
I grew confident in my strength, which was rapidly improving and was able to keep up with my much younger classmates. I was quickly enveloped in the love and support that is the pole dance and aerial arts community. In only a few months, I saw new muscles and the physical improvements that I’ve never experienced before (I even found myself flexing in front of mirrors for the first time in my life). However, it was the community that was feeding my soul.
We cheer for each other, we celebrate each victory, and are there to catch each other in failure (sometimes quite literally). I grew to understand that I wanted to build a place where I could help others find their people. I wanted to help them fly and learn to appreciate their amazing bodies. I wanted to foster a welcoming space where everyone, even those who never thought they could, can tap into the flight that lives in all of us. Raven Studios is the product of that wish I have for others. I’m doing the stuff that scares me once again, and I hope you’ll consider joining me. Find your people.
-Jana, owner Raven Studios