Against the Odds: Stories of Inspiration from the Pole- Roz The Diva
Roz The Diva has been a fixture in the New York pole community for several years now. She teaches at Sacred Studio in Brooklyn, was the 2011 Polesque Champion and created the first ever pole competition for plus-size dancers. Read on to learn what struggles she has had to overcome, why she loves teaching so much and what she has planned next.
|Photo credit: Sharon Goldberg|
IM: So you started pole dancing in 2007. Run me through your introduction to pole. How did you first hear about it? What was your first class like?
ROZ: I started pole at Crunch. My very first class was with Kyra Johanessen and Tara Anomolies. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically with my body, but it was also the best. I was hooked from day one.
IM: You created and produced Dangerous Curves, the first competition for plus-size pole dancers. Tell me more about that.
ROZ: I’ve always been an underdog in sports, so there is a big place in my heart for nontraditional dancers doing awesome things. Dangerous Curves is a celebration of those who’ve made a commitment to lead a healthier life. I would have been very happy selling 40 or 50 tickets . . . but 15 minutes before show time, my crew was trying to hustling to make space for the 150 people that showed up! I really had no idea how badly this show was needed. I hope to expand DC to a bigger venue and produce it in other cities.
IM: How has the experience of teaching pole been for you?
ROZ: I’m addicted to raising my pole family. I recall teaching my first generation of students learning how to climb; a 13′ ceiling seemed like a million miles away. Their legs took a beating as they learned how to move their body weight vertically, but they got there! When I heard “ROZ I DID IT!!!!!” for the first time, my eyes started welling up with pride. I couldn’t believe that I had given these regular women super human tools to accomplish great things.
IM: You’re known for your energetic and sassy attitude in class. Where do you get that from? What motivates you?
ROZ: You know that moment when you realize you have completely turned into one of your parents? Yea . . . my big mouth and over-the-top personality comes directly from my father, Bobby. A former gym teacher, he would regularly lose his damn mind and scream his voice out during all my sister’s and my softball games. He is the only person I know who is more obsessed with teaching than me (no, he doesn’t teach pole, lol).
IM: Why do you think pole dancing is healing for many people? Has it been for you?
ROZ: First, pole is 100% responsible for reducing the shame I carry about my weight. Contrary to my outward energy, I spent most of my life disgusted with myself for being overweight. That hatred was second nature and will take a very, very long time to reverse. Pole eases the healing process because it gives my body new purpose. I have been able to gain control of my health by losing excess body fat and building stronger back and arm muscles. Secondly, pole was my saving grace during my 18 months of unemployment. I was fired from two full time jobs because my previous employers disapproved of my pole career and social media presence. That hurt me deeply. As I went through a dozen temp jobs, teaching pole remained stable. I was broke as hell and painfully stressed, but during those times are when I saw the radiance of my pole family. So many friends bought me dinner, drinks and made sure I had an ice cream sundae before I went home. Ellie, Kat, Ya-Roo, Aditi, Nicole, Maria and a TON of other people — your relentless generosity continues to leave me speechless.
IM: So word has it you will be joining Body & Pole as a new instructor! Congratulations! Tell me more.
ROZ: Yes ma’am, I will be teaching Level I classes Saturdays at 11:45am and Pole Virgins at 3:15pm. I’ve been a B+P groupie for years, so this move feels right. This is proof that dreams can and do come true.
IM: What does the pole world have to look forward to Roz The Diva bringing to us?
ROZ: I want to continue creating shows that celebrate bringing niche performances to the masses. Dangerous Curves is certainly coming back, as well as 50 Shades of Black and a few others up my sleeve…