I think it’s safe to say that pole dancing has one of the most inviting, nurturing and compassionate communities compared to many other sports. Maybe it’s because the people who pole are more open minded and therefore more accepting of other people, maybe it’s because people who pole can be so different from one another (everBODY), or maybe it’s just because the pole community has to constantly stick up for itself against daily headlines and misconceptions.
One thing is clear….pole dancers are ready to help other pole dancers at the drop of a hat. They are loving and caring about pole dancers from worlds over that they’ve never met before, they are ready to take legal action against people who ban what they love, they seek out charities to raise money for and in this case, they want to help a friend.
Sam Williams, an Australian pole dancer, has reached out to several popular pole dancers and pole companies, gathered images and put them together in a calendar collection, created a facebook page and has put them up for sale, all for a dear friend suffering from Lyme Disease. Carlie Angel, another Australian pole dancer and performer for a contemporary pole theatre group, Pole Cats, was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and is struggling to get well due to medical costs. Below is an interview with Sam Williams, the creator of the Aerial Eden Calendar and Carlie Angel, the pole dancer who will receive all of the profits made from the calendar in order to get well.
|Evgeny Greshilov and Anastasia Skukhtorova – June 2014
Courtesy of Sam Williams
UPA: What made you think of creating a calendar for this cause?
SW: I created aerial Eden 2014 Calendar to help raise money for a friend and fellow pole dancer, Carlie Angel and to also raise awareness for her sickness, Lyme disease. In Australia, the government is in denial about Lyme actually existing here, so there are no treatment options here and little support. The costs are high for treatment overseas, but its what must be done if Carlie is to get well again.
UPA: How was it finding dancers and photographers to participate?
SW: The dancers and photographers have been AMAZING in supporting this project! Myself and Carlie are just so appreciative of their generosity. I found the photos that I thought suited the calendar I wanted and then contacted the dancers and photographers for permission to use their images. I was so excited to get the response we did…. Pole and aerial artists and photographers rock!!
UPA: How has the response from pole dancers been?
SW: The response has been great from other pole dancers, lots of people visiting the Aerial Eden Facebook page and checking out the images and I have already had quite a few pre orders for the calendar. I also have some amazing sponsors for the project including, yourselves! United Pole Artists, Australian Pole Festival, Platinum Stages Australia, Pole Fitness World, Tite Grip, X-Pole and Poleranking! We are very thankful to these companies for their support also!
|Marion Crampe – November 2014
Courtesy of Sam Williams
UPA: How did you (Carlie Angel) first learn of your diagnosis?
CA: I had been seeing a specialist and been through various treatments for Chronic Fatigue but kept getting sicker. A friend of mine has Lyme disease and kept urging me to get tested (trouble being it costs about $450 just for the blood test). After we had tested everything else we could my specialist gave me a kit to send to IgeneX in America and I got a Very Positive result! (irony intended)
UPA: Are you still dancing in spite of your disease?
CA: No, I did Pole Cats (a contemporary Pole show made for theatre) very sick, i slept all day and took pain killers to get through the hour long show and went straight back to bed. I haven’t danced since and haven’t done a contemporary dance class (my primary modality) for at least 2 years.
Recently I was able to manage a couple of fairly gentle yoga classes a week in a hot room, it is a small step and the heat helps me process the high amount of toxins from the disease and medicines in my body.
UPA: How long have you been pole dancing?
CA: I began Pole dancing about a year and a half ago, I did a “crash course” and was so excited to learn so much so quickly, (though it was still too slow for me because i could only train sporadically due to being ill…so frustrating!!) Sadly I haven’t been able to continue. I kept learning after the show but after a few weeks realised I could not manage it. However, from that fresh faced contemporary dancer I have been well and truly initiated into the world of booty shorts, pain, passion and pole and am still involved…I am sitting waiting to pounce on that pole some day!!
UPA: What motivated you to first try it?
CA: There were lots of things. I wanted to make a film clip / realise an idea i had that was based in contemporary using Pole but I had to find a way to learn! I saw a show done for Adelaide fringe and was excited by the potential of pole as an expressive medium. Then, through a series of strange coincidences I was asked to dance in Pole Cats and met the awesome Carlie Hunter and began training. I liked the edgy-ness of the form, the challenge and the people.
|Nico Modestine – September 2014
Courtesy of Sam Williams
UPA: What difficulties and challenges do you face?
CA: hahahaha….where to begin!
Physically the disease totally disables and debilitated me, and causes quite a huge amount of chronic pain, including Tremors, numbness and painful stabbing ‘pins and needles'(though these have gone since i had some treatment) The main symptom for me is Incredible fatigue I cant even explain…a total lack of life force. (think, bad hangover mixed with a bad flu.. and you cant have coffee or sugar!! ; )
I also could not read or watch a screen or tolerate too much light for quite a long time. The disease infects your organs, brain and nervous system and disables your immune system…you can imagine it aint so pretty. Being an artist trying to afford thousands of dollars worth of treatments and supplements/medications is also a challenge, along with finding treatment and facing a total lack of knowledge about the illness and a health system that largely ignores the illness! At the same time, I have been incredibly fortunate to have amazing people from all nooks and crannies pop their hands and hearts out to help me heal…i mean…this calendar is just so incredible and involves so many incredible artists ( I cried when Sam first told me of the idea and wanting to help me, and then i cried harder when she sent me the pics!!..one thing that isnt a challenging is truly understanding humility and understanding how much difference people can make in each others lives with some caring and creativity) The biggest daily challenge is probably the challenge to “keep the faith”, to not be worn down, to keep moving through it and forward, keeping on seeking healing and believing it can happen for me and to keep fear and despair at bay through the bad stints. Things like this show of support make that fight much much easier.
Not having the ability to dance my way through it (as i have with pretty much EVERYTHING in life…well, that has proved a huge challenge, i have had to be still..for a REALLY long time!!).
Now my challenge, as I sit at the reception of the Pole Boutique studio a couple of nights a week, is to look on longingly and BELIEVE it will be me again..(before i am 60!! haha) …though, if it is then, then i guess we will truly have a granny on the Pole! ; )
UPA: What is your goal in this project?
SW: My goal is to raise as much money for Carlie and as much awareness for Lyme Disease as possible.