This Saturday was a BIG DEAL for Aerial Dance and the sport of Pole in the Fox Cities. On Saturday we performed in a dance review called “The Big Show: What a Wonderful World” presented by TC Dance. This local ballroom company invited us to be part of the show, along with Makaroff School of Ballet and others. Why was this such a big deal? It’s the first time in the 6 years since we brought pole to the Fox Cities that we truly felt accepted.
Every time we have performed in public in that past at an event that wasn’t “ours” (like our Christmas Show where we only allow people to attend who are affiliated with the company) we have had a rough time. When Vic Ferrari invited us to perform with them at Jones Park a few years ago, they received complaint phone calls after. When we had a booth at a wedding show, we were treated with hostility. It has always been a struggle to gain acceptance and have non-pole people understand what we are doing is fitness.
I was a basket case on Friday and Saturday. I was so worried about what would happen when we brought a pole on stage after a ballet performance. Would people walk out? They had before, not even bothering to see what we do and learn with an open mind. Would people be mean to my instructors who were performing? They had before, I won’t even go into the truly horrible things people have said to us over the years. I was an anxiety ridden basket case. I knew Paige and Leah would perform a great routine, they are incredible women and gorgeous dancers. (And by the way, they were amazing!!!!) But even knowing that we would do our performance well, I was so worried and stressed and scared.
You know what happened? Nothing. I didn’t hear any negative comments. When I was walking around in my “Aerial Dance” logo cloths people asked me questions or said they were looking forward to our performance or thanked me for sponsoring. During the performance I heard cheers from the audience when Leah and Paige did something cool. No one walked out. After people said really complimentary things and asked me about our program and sport. People congratulated Leah & Paige and asked questions. The other dancers back stage were all so nice and supportive. The organizer said we were a great addition to the show and told us to save the date for next year.
And I cried. After our performance I sat in the audience and a gentleman sang “You Raise Me Up” and I cried because I was so relieved. After educating this community for years in the face of judgemental hate, we were finally welcome. We performed the sport of pole on a stage in a Lutheran High School at an event with a ton of people who had never seen what we do and they were kind. I cried because it has been a LONG, HARD pushing a rock up a stupidly big mountain journey and for a moment I felt safe to rest.
And the BEST part of the night? This entire event was a fundraiser for the Veterans Council of the Fox Valley. We were allowed to participate in a charity event. I was allowed to sponsor the event and donate raffle prizes and have my girls perform. Aerial Dance was an accepted business in the Valley and we helped raise money for a really wonderful charity. This may seem trivial, but I’ve tried to be part of charity events before and we weren’t always welcome or they would accept the donation but not want to list the name of the donating company, like my donation dollars were somehow dirty. So to be able to help the Veterans was a really excellent thing for me. It really is a wonderful world.
Thank you so much Terry from TC Dance for welcoming us at your event. We can’t wait for next year.