10 Questions for Pole Championship Series Finalist Rachele Ribera

10 Questions for Pole Championship Series Finalist Rachele Ribera

10 Questions for Pole Championship Series Finalist Rachele Ribera

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The Pole Championship Series, taking place at The Arnold Sports Festival, is about one month away! United Pole Artists has been interviewing competitors leading up to the big event. Next up is Rachele Ribera, the current Miss Pole Dance Oklahoma Champion. 

Where do you train?
Primarily, I train at home. I teach at Teaze Dance & Fitness in Oklahoma City, and Lynn Crowe, owner, has been extremely accommodating in letting me use the studio space whenever I need to run things. I spend as much time as I can at Alethea Austin’s The Chrome Bar; she has created something so special.  It’s a place that feels like home and has helped me find and discover myself as a pole dancer. I’ve also workshopped with a long list of pole stars and then integrated pieces of those workshops into my training.
You played competitive basketball for 10 years. What was the transition to pole like?
Having played at the level I did was extremely beneficial as I transitioned into pole. Sacrifice, persistence, and hard work became second nature at a young age while playing, and those are things that are necessary in pole, especially coming into it with so little upper body strength. Looking back at video footage of my first year of pole is just crazy to me now. I had a lot of big dreams for my skill level, but I knew I was capable of improving only as long as I kept trying. I kept trying, a lot! I got that mindset from playing basketball; it was very natural to think that way, and it’s been fundamental in my growth. You can’t improve if you give up.
You are a member of MENSA, the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world. How did this come about?
My 1st grade teachers were concerned because I refused to participate in what the group was doing, and instead would sit in the corner reading whale books. Yes, that was my obsession that year, and I had a bathtub full of them! Many members of my father’s side of the family were members of MENSA at the time, and recommended having my IQ assessed. I scored above the 98th percentile on The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children- Third Edition and The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale: Fourth Edition. They were happy to help and see another family member receive their membership and provide insight into my obsession with whales!      
How has the acceptance of pole dancing as a competitive sport in your hometown been? 
When I explained to my physical therapist how I injured my rib/shoulder, the first thing she said was, “that’s amazing.” That was nice coming from someone outside of the community. She really understood the strength pole dance requires and considered myself and others in the industry top level athletes; it was very refreshing not having to explain or preface it. Actually, I’ve stopped prefacing it altogether. If people want to know, they’ll ask.
Overall, I feel the competitive aspect is a little misunderstood. One typical response is, “so it’s like a dance competition.” It is in some ways, but because the pole community is so tightly knit, and relatively small, pole dance competitions act as mediums for exposure in the pole community in ways I don’t feel dance competitions can for dancers in the dance community. For those who want to make a career out of pole dancing, pole competitions are just one aspect, and this is what I feel is least understood.

How did you train for Miss Pole Dance Oklahoma?
Figure 8, my piece for MPDO, was the first full pole dance I choreographed. I wanted it to be my own creation, probably because I never had that power when I danced competitively. Up to that point, I had mostly trained elements individually, with some simple combinations. To train for MPDO, I chose the elements and movement phrases I wanted to use, and drilled them, a lot! I listened to my song hundreds of times and visualized each element in different places until I felt they clicked. A story started to develop, and I aimed to tell it through the movement connecting each element. Soon, I had filled the music and I finished by polishing each piece.
What is your favorite pole move of the moment?
Right now, I am all about flowing around the pole and combining different transitions in seamless ways. I guess don’t really have a favorite pole ‘move’ of the moment.
What about favorite song?
Pretty much anything from The Neighbourhood.
Do you have a pole idol?
Alethea has been a pole idol of mine since I discovered her on YouYube; but she has become a role model as well.  Aside from the way she moves and performs, she is a fantastic businesswoman, brand director, studio owner, instructor, and visionary. Being successful in any one of those areas doesn’t guarantee success in another; I admire her dedication to every aspect, and her success.
The Pole Championship Series will mark the first time pole fitness has been featured at The Arnold Sports Festival. How does it feel to be part of this boundary-breaking event?
 It is a privilege, one I’m very proud of! The line-up is full of talented women and it will be interesting to see how the competition is received. This is a big step for the pole dance industry.


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