Brandon Grimm has been dominating the pole competition scene lately. I first met Brandon in Denver, Colorado at Pole Theatre, where we chatted and since then, I have had the pleasure of getting to know this intriguing human being. This 28 year old has one interesting story. From fashion designer at Victoria Secret to professional pole performer, he is a LA local, who is very single and has been pole dancing since October 2010. I caught up with Brandon as couple of weeks ago to find out what is on the inside of this phenomenal dancer who has just been signed by Pole on Tour. Titles: 2015 U.S. Men’s National Champion 2015 National Aerial Pole Art: Men’s Division – 1st Runner-up 2015 Pacific Pole Champion: Men’s Division 2014 Pacific Aerial Arts Champion 2012 Pole Expo: 1st Runner-up Men’s Division SE: Can you tell me a little about your life you became a full time dancer? Where do you grow up? What was your first job? BG: I grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Started gymnastics when I was 5 years old and continued until I was 9. I then started dancing at a local studio after one of my summer camp counselors kept yelling at me for tumbling in the grass. So she invited me to her dance studio: Dance FX in Sunrise, FL. I started in ACRO and hip-hop, then jazz, then finally ballet and Lyrical. At age 12 I started competing nationally and traveling with Tremaine Dance Conventions. After receiving numerous scholarships with the convention I was invited to assist the teachers and choreographers on the roster. I continued competing and traveling through high school until graduation. In the midst of dancing, I also found a love for fashion and costume design. At 13, I began designing costumes for my dance studio. It wasn’t until my high school offered a 3-semester Fashion Production program, did I consider a career in design. My final year, I took AP Art where my teacher was gracious enough to allow me to work on my college acceptance portfolio and incorporate it into my AP Design Portfolio. It was with this portfolio that I was accept to the most prestigious Fashion Design School in the country: The Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC. After receiving my AAS in Fashion Design, I continued to my education and received my BFA in Fashion Design with a specialization in Intimate Apparel. It’s with this degree I landed my first job as an Assist Designer with Victoria’s Secret! During my time in NYC, I also kept up my dance training at local studios like Broadway Dance Center and Steps NYC. It was also here where I picked up Aerial Acrobatics and Circus Arts.
SE: What was a defining moment when you decided you wanted to follow your dream? BG: Well, it was about 6-8 months into working at Victoria’s Secret when I realized I had trained 20 years as a dancer/ gymnast and even though I had the most creative design job I could ever want, I wasn’t physically fulfilled. I felt like all my training and dancing was going to waste. So 51 weeks (1 week shy of a year) into VS I resigned to dance professionally. It wasn’t until almost a year later did I find Pole. My year after Victoria’s Secret was booking an agent and working professionally as a commercial dancer. SE: What has been a highlighting moment in your career so far? BG: Honestly, I have 2 highlighting moments. The first would be winning Nationals this past August! I felt so crappy about my routine while I was on stage performing. I literally remember being in my second Spin-pole pass and saying to myself “Jesus! This sucks right now!” Things were going wrong that had never happened in rehearsal and my body was doing things I wasn’t used to. So when they announced me as the winner of the 2015 U.S. Men’s National Champion, internally I felt so undeserving because I had been beating myself up over my routine. After watching the video a few days later though, I took myself out of the judgmental place and just tried to watch. It wasn’t until then when I realized few mistakes I had noticed personally in my performance were visible to an unknowing eye. So it was a realization and a real eye opener that I should have been proud of what I put on stage! My second highlight moment would be Pole Expo 2015! It was such an amazing weekend of performing and networking for me. So many of my Pole Idols were there. And I got to meet so many faces that I had only known via Facebook and Instagram! It was also really interesting to meet that people knew who I was and know my work. It was an eye-opening and humbling experience to be around such a supportive group of dancers and performers. And we finished it off with the most amazing Pole Jam at Shine Alternative Fitness!
SE: Can you describe the highs and lows over the last few years? BG: Well, I’ve only been poling full-time for about a year now. The three years prior to that, I was with a dance company called Diavolo: Architecture in Motion. We toured nationally and internationally sometimes 6 weeks at a time. So some highs were being able to perform for thousands and thousands of people and learning the craft of ‘being human’ on stage. So much of the company, outside of the pure physicality of the work, was acting and character. So our director was really big on the human element of dance and performance. Learning to not over-do movement and to keep things simple, smooth, and easy on the eye. Some of the downs, unfortunately, came with being a dancer, touring in America. The money was livable, but not great. So I still held 2 other jobs outside of the company. Also, because the nature of the work was so rigorous, we were in the theaters a lot! There was very little time to explore the cities we were touring. So that was unfortunate. Also, because tour pay wasn’t great, I would lose money while on the road. So for three years, I always felt like I was playing catch-up at home from when I was on tour. SE: What did your family and friends think when you told them you are taking up pole? BG: Well, most of my friends were already dancers and performers of all sorts, so there was no surprise there. And my family, I didn’t really tell them up front. I told them I worked at a pole dancing studio but I don’t ever remember telling them I took up the art form. So after winning PAAC in 2014, my family and I were sitting down for Christmas dinner and they asked, “So what was this competition you just won?” I said to them “Didn’t I tell you I worked at a pole dancing studio? Well, anyways, I just won Pacific Aerial Arts: Pole Division.” And they respoinded, “I guess we just didn’t put two and two together.” And that was that! SE: Tell us some of the artists/events/shows you have worked on/for? BG: Diavolo Dance Theater: Architecture in Motion Pole Show LA Troupe Veritgo Eclipse Mental Head Circus SE: Describe your dance and performance style? BG: My performance style tries to embody the music in its entirety. Everyone always asks me when I’m creating a piece, “What’s your story?” And I just tell them, “Listen to the music.” I try to explore the different levels of music. I looks for nuances in music to bring out, little things you may not notice the first time hearing the song. Then I look to share the story of what’s being told in the song, as if I was the vocalist singing with my body and I was the instrument, playing the chords with my movement. And I tend to choose more lyrical and slower tempo music because it’s easier to keep up with. I see so many performances with hard music and fast tempos and because I’m so musical, I want to keep the intensity up to match. And I know I can’t do a 4 minute routine to a hard-hitting, up-tempo song without completely exhausting myself.
SE: Whom do you admire and who inspires you? There are too many to choose!! As far as males, I love watching Magnus Labbe for his presence and quality, Josh Taylor for his choreography and movement, Vladamir Karachunov for things I will never be able to do, Daniel Rosen because I’ll never be that flexible, and Edouard Doye for his style and cleanliness! For females: Marlo Fisken because she’s the goddess of pole, Yvonne Smink because her mind sees pole in ways I’ll never know and whenever we jam and try her moves we say we’re “Sminkin’ it Up!” Sergia Louise Anderson for inspiring me every day I get to train with her, Mary Kolacinski for being the best motivation and spotter EVER during The Vertitude jam sessions! Leigh-Ann Riley for giving me free reign of Bespun at times to rehearse and train, Claudia Renee for always being willing to come and train with me when I’m creating routines, because I’m co-dependent. Finally Kyra Johannesen for giving me my first pole class ever, Natasha Wang for ALWAYS wanting to learn, push, and create new movement with me, and Jordan Kensley for just putting up with me and making me eat breakfast! SE: How would you recommend others to take charge like you have? BG: Oh man… I would say that it’s going be hard road but it’s so worth it to follow your passion. I would advise people to stay true to who they are. Master YOUR craft. I put ‘your’ in capitals to emphasize that it’s your journey, your movement, your style and your life. Don’t try and do what I do well. Do what you do well!! And if you take inspiration from others, expect it to look different on you, and embrace your unique qualities. Try and embody the people you idol but then make it YOURS! Continue to grow, learn and be humble. Make the most of this opportunity and capitalize on your strengths while acknowledging and building your weaknesses.
SE: Is there anything else you would like to mention to us? BG: People generally ask me, “How are you so good at so many things?” (Dance, gymnastics, costume design, makeup, choreography, aerial acrobatics, handstands, pole…) And to this I respond: I have a very artistic brain. Everything I do comes from the point of wanting everything to be beautiful. So I’ve chosen to surround myself around the arts, artistic people, and artistic jobs. It’s been a life long journey, exploration, and yearn to grow and be better than I was the day before. I love learning from my mistakes, unfortunately though, you have to make mistakes!