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Amber Richard, APFC 2010 Women’s Division Finalist,
Amber Richard was born and raised in Paris, France before moving to California in 1998. She has been dancing since the age of 5 and has never stopped! Her first love is classical ballet in which she was trained following the Royal Academy of Dance method and competed throughout high school. She pursued her love of dance through college, graduating from the University of California at Irvine with a BA in Dance. She is currently fulfilling her intellectual curiosity at the University of Southern California to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy. After discovering pole fitness in 2008, Amber was immediately hooked! She loves teaching and enjoys the mix of artistic expression, confidence boost, and fitness workout that pole dancing provides. She is known for her elegant, balletic style which emphasizes extensions, grace, and fluidity. Ms. Richard took home APFA’s trademark title Pole Artist of the Year™ 2010
Roland Brown, APFC 2010 Men’s Division Finalist
Roland Brown comes to pole dancing from a classical dance background. He studied ballet and modern dance for 12 years in San Francisco, and danced with the Ruth Langridge modern dance company for two years, before moving to New York City in 1988. Roland’s passion for dance intensified when he started pole dancing in 2006. Along with many years of dancing, Roland also draws upon 12 years experience in yoga and 10 years experience as a skydiver to inform his pole dancing aesthetic. He currently teaches pole dancing at Crunch gym and at Body and Pole, and is an AAFA certified group fitness instructor
Carolyn Chiu, APFC 2010 Women’s Division Finalist
Carolyn Chiu is a 2nd generation Taiwanese American who resides in Manhattan, New York as a multi-media artist with an early childhood background in gymnastics. Her experience and interest in performing arts started at a young age. It gradually developed while competing on a southern California gymnastics team. Her training consists of a variety of mixed art disciplines ranging from ballet to yoga, break dancing to cheer, lyrical to burlesque. During her last stressful semester at Parsons Design Technology MFA program in Spring 2008, she discovered how pole classes enhanced her ability to self express. She continues to be inspired by many pole fitness environments and launched a pole photography studio in New York City. In July 2010 she joined LI Dance Fitness in Hauppauge, NY. Here she launched her Chinese pole program which she innovatively and creatively combined the arts of gymnastics and yoga based around the pole. She currently holds the title, “Hong Kong Pole Fitness Champion 2010.” Her recent performance is a group collaboration with MoMa PS1′s Young Architects Program designed by SO-IL titled “Pole Dance,” a summer-long outdoor social space. With two-year experience combined as a pole fitness student, instructor, and performer, it was a naturally embraced process. Carolyn’s primary focus is to spread the art of vertical dancing as a respected, graceful performance demonstrating health, fitness and balance.
Josiah “Badazz” Grant, APFC 2010 Men’s Division 3rd Place Champion
Josiah Grant began his acrobatic and dancing career at the young age of ten. Growing up, he never had a sport that he dedicated his time to, but always enjoyed taking classes to hone his skills in gymnastics, hip hop dancing, contortion, Jamaican dance-hall, belly dancing, and martial arts.
By the time Josiah reached the age of 17, he was already looking for the next level in his artistic career. While at gymnastics, one day he miraculously found his talents all meshing together while joking around on a slanted pole in the gym. After this short brush with destiny, he began investing numerous hours of time & money into training himself to becoming the phenomenal acrobatic pole fitness performer that he is today.
From his bedroom in Reseda, California, he started creating videos of his pole art and began to upload them to Youtube, where he became well known in the pole fitness community. On his 3rd month of creating videos, Grant instantaneously discovered his alter ego “Bad Azz”, and has been performing all over the United States, and most recently appeared on the ” Jerry Springer Show” as a special pole fitness performer. With his ever growing fame and skills, Bad Azz is, and will go down in history as one of the most skilled, unique, and artistic male pole fitness performer in the world. Badazz won the 3rd place the APFC 2010 Men’s Division title.
Caterina Gennaro, APFC 2010 Women’s Division Finalist
Caterina Gennaro has excelled as a competitive gymnast, international model, underwater shark diver and photographer for the Discovery Channel and now as one of the top pole dancers in the country. Cat opened Poleates in 2006 to help women learn an incredible new way to get in shape, build self-confidence and to get in touch with their sensual sides. Cat first used pole fitness to get her body back in shape after the birth of her twins. Her journey into pole fitness has taken her to national competition in Las Vegas, New York and Los Angeles where she has established herself as one of the world’s elite performers. She says she is in the best shape of her life all thanks to pole fitness pushing her abilities to the ultimate performance and challenge. Her studio Poleates, has expanded to Paris, France, and is also a leading training academy for the sport of Pole fitness. For Cat, the biggest reward comes from transforming and revitalizing the lives of her students.
“Skittles”, APFC 2010 Women’s Division Finalist
Vakiesha “Skittles” Wimberly is a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor that loves to pole. As a wife and mother of two daughters she has used pole fitness to take her fitness abilities to new heights. She is a self-taught pole fitness student that credits the use of YouTube and the online pole community for all that she has learned. She shares her passion for pole fitness with women teaching in-home pole fitness parties in Atlanta, GA and the surrounding areas.
Nicole Williams, APFC 2010 Women’s Division Finalist
Nicole has been a Well Known & Gifted Certified Personal trainer for over 10 years and took on pole fitness as a new athletic challenge in 2007. “Pole fitness for me was about learning the athleticism and soon it became about being more feminine, graceful and sensual. I was always a tomboy and being sexy was not my thing. Pole fitness provided an avenue for me to work on that without feeling self conscious and goofy.” Nicole is a self taught pole fitness performer and after 3 months of practicing at home decided to take her personal training knowledge and her love for fitness & teaching and started Pole Dance Allure aka Allure Dance Studio. Nicole has been a highly sought after Instructor and in 3 years Nicole has become LA’s #1 Pole Dance Studio. She has a 6 Set Instructional DVD Series and has been featured on numerous television shows showcasing this wonderful art form, and recently worked with Toni Braxton on her latest music video. Nicole also has a huge following of fans and one of the highest ranking pages on youtube with over a million hits on her collection of videos. “I look forward to the growth of this sport and art form and am glad to know I have been one of the pioneers of bringing it the forefront as something beautiful that any woman or man can do”.
Takeila Fox, APFC 2010 Women’s Division Finalist
Takeila Fox was born in Rocky Mount, NC and raised in Gastonia, NC. Takeila’s entire family has athletic and artistic ability beyond the average and this was also apparent in Takeila who excelled in dance, art through sketching, poetry and songwriting. Her first love was for dance and expressing her creations of art through styling natural hair was second most important in her life. After spending a few years working in natural hair and in artist promotions in Florida, Takeila decided that she needed to be closer to her family and returned to Gastonia where she continued to seek ways to express herself artistically. She started out in pole by watching videos posted by well accredited pole fitness instructors on Youtube. Takeila possesses raw athletic ability and passion and combined this with the training schedule of an Olympic athlete to master the moves of these seasoned performers in the time it would have taken any other person years. The level of mastery Takeila has been able to achieve is phenomenal considering that she had virtually no gymnastics background and started only from dance training and raw flexibility. Takeila began to teach students interested in pole dancing privately all the while continuing to hone her performing skills. It was soon after this that Takeila decided to begin participating in some of the pole fitness competitions which helped her earn pro status. This achievement has been one of the most meaningful if her life and she continues to travel and perform and give clinics on pole fitness and how to learn this beautiful and often misunderstood art form. Her main goal in competing is to change the views of the closed minded so that pole fitness can also be viewed as an art.
Mattcrobat, APFC 2010 Men’s Division Finalist
Mattcrobat is co-proprietor of Jasmine Dragons studio in Ohio with his 5 year old son, Luis. His passion for exploring life’s adventures has carried him through many places in the world & sharing this knowledge with all walks of life is his greatest strength. Knowing that gravity plays favorites to those who practice & that nothing is impossible at any age, imagination and life is limitless and free. Racing motorcycles for competition has been a lifelong experience for Mattcrobat. Jumping hundreds of feet in the air to feel time as stopped has always been a long deep breath. Learning to climb limbless trees in Costa Rica has been an asset, but gained his climbing tricks and strengths in the mountains of Colorado. You will find him teaching & performing Pole Dynamics, Aerial Fabrics to several kids in his Balance classes. As a single Dad, Mattcrobat works construction as a superintendent for a residential builder in the mornings, completes many electrical side jobs and runs Jasmine Dragons throughout the day into evening. Whatever it takes to spend as much time with his son and to share with him is all that he knows. It does take a village to raise a child. In t true form, friends and small business owners in his area all gathered together to sponsor Mattcrobat to compete in the American Pole Fitness Championships to fulfill his dreams on a world stage doing what he loves. The list of his generous sponsors are as follows: Kelleigh Miller, 216 beatriders, Square City Tattoo, Payne & Payne, Lude Science music and Ben Hall Photography
Marlo Fisken, APFC 2010 Women’s Division Champion
Marlo Fisken also simply known as “Marlo”, is a nationally-known media personality, teacher, and performer. She has a B.S in anthropology and public relations from the University of Miami where her studies focused on human movement, nutrition, and communication. Marlo has 23 years of dance training and 9 years experience as a personal trainer with certifications in nutrition, yoga and pilates. Her pole fitness skills have landed her features in New York Times, the New York Post, an AM NY cover “From Risque to Ripped”, Pink Floyd/Roger Waters 2010 world tour, and a SoBe Adrenaline Rush commercial. She has toured as hip-hop dancer with Nike and BMG Latin artists, alternating weeks of research and teaching with shows in the Caribbean, Mexico and South America. She has performed in the MTV Video Music awards, VH1 fashion rocks, music videos, and industrials with Diddy, Pharell, Fabolous, Nelly and more. At the National High School Dance festival she lead a course on conditioning for dancers entitled “Strength & Grace” and presented club dance styles at the South Beach International Fitness festival. She has modeled for Hanes, Fitness Magazine, Shape Magazine, Nike Golf, and Runner’s World Magazine’s “Women’s Complete Book of Running.” Marlo took home the gold in the women’s division.
Jungle Cat, APFC 2010 Men’s Division Finalist
Tavon Hargett, aka Jungle Cat, is a full fledged country boy from the sticks of New Bern, North Carolina, who prefers big bear hugs over handshakes, is addicted to his mom’s sweet potato pies and Pig Picking cakes, and loves to open doors and pull chairs out for the ladies! Jungle is single and has been promoting abstinence by practicing Tantric Celibacy for the past 5 years.
Jungle has only been performing pole fitness for about a year and a half but has already developed an extremely deep appreciation for the many different, diverse, and unique pole fitness styles and is truly grateful for the love and encouragement from my friends, family, the pole fitness community and its supporters.
JSteven “Princeton” Retchless, APFC 2010 Men’s Division Champion
An entertainer, Steven was appropriately born in Las Vegas, Nevada. Discovering he loved the stage at age 7 performing at UNLV, Artemus Ham Theater tap dancing his way into the hearts of the audience. An honored student of the “Las Vegas Academy of the performing Arts” studying dance during his high school years, he was subsequently accepted as a student at the “California Institute of Performing Arts” in Los Angeles, California studying for a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art majoring in Dance, where he was exposed to and performed in an abundant array of performances. With eager innocence and the love of many forms of physical artistry his credits include; Television commercials for Station Casinos, Walker furniture and Anderson Dairy. Principal dancer in “Hello Dolly” High School Dance Theater production. Selected to perform his own Choreography at the Los Angeles Moma, RedCat Theater. Performanced at the American Dance Festival at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He has also performed and a member of various different venues in Las Vegas with “Culture Shock,” a Hip Hop troop, danced with Derek Barry, Brittany Spears impersonator and Local Las Vegas Entertainers. Steven has a respected amount of training in Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Ariel Silks, Gymnastics and Pole fitness. His style fuses the lightness of the air with the power of being rooted to the ground. He has a flare that is exposed through the sensual fluidity of his movements. Whether dancing in the sky or twirling on the floor Steven “Princeton” Retchless has an extraordinary Talent for Dance. Princeton took home the gold in men’s division.
Zoraya Judd, APFC 2010 Women’s Division 2nd Place Champion
Zoraya was born into a Latin home. The extent of her “dance” background came from family gatherings and parties where she socially Latin danced. At age 15 she got into fitness and has been a consistent gym goer ever since. She loves all types of fitness and enjoys to workout and push her body to new heights. Zoraya loves a challenge and pushes herself to accomplish them until she conquers her goal.
She got into pole shortly after the birth of her second son. She attended core pole classes once a week for the first 4 months, then twice a week. At 6 months She began teaching and immediately jumped into competing. Her studio owner entered her into the competition and notified her two weeks prior to the competition. This was the first time that Zoraya started training on an everyday basis. Up to this point it was only two times per week as the advanced instructor and just for fun. Her husband, Nic reached out to the biggest names in pole fitness and was able to establish a relationship with them in so much as Zoraya was able to again receive instruction and the challenge she needed to push herself.
Zoraya says, “Competing became addicting and nerve racking at the same time.” Zoraya’s goal is to continue to show people the fitness side of pole. She absolutely loves everything that has to do with pole, But for her it is the strength, control and flexibility that she finds so beautiful and intriguing. In addition to winning the 2nd place, Zoraya also won APFA’s trademark title Pole Athlete of the Year™ 2010 .
Kyra Johannesen, APFC 2010 Women’s Division 3rd Place Champion
Most performers live for the chance to perform. They live for that moment when they are finally, once again, on stage. Moving. Breathing. Feeling. Being. Kyra Johannesen does not wait for that moment. For Kyra, dancing is living. She is quick to credit many talented teachers for instilling in her a respect for technique and a sense of professionalism. She began dancing in Phoenix, AZ at the age of four and later moved to Los Angeles to study at the Edge Performing Arts Studio, under Christina Woodard, Eddie Garcia, and Doug Caldwell. In 2005, Kyra discovered pole dance. She quickly embraced this new form of dance, and shortly after was asked to develop the pole fitness program for Crunch gym. Since then Kyra has appeared on national television, and numerous media outlets, to show and discuss her style of pole fitness. She has taught in Europe at different pole events and workshops and in Dec of 2009 joined the forces of Body & Pole in New York City. She has been the principle choreographer for Wide Angle Records and Way Out Productions. She has choreographed accompanying performances for international musicians and bands. Her own company has received acclaim for the shows Out Through Her, Women in Their Bedroom, The Dream, and Remote. In the summer of 2010, Kyra choreographed a series of performances to accompany the architectural installation “Pole Dance” at PS1 MoMA.
“Flying Laura”, APFC 2010 Women’s Division Finalist
Flying Laura is a competitive and professional acrobatic pole fitness performer with 10 years of experience. Her background of high level athletic training in Chinese Kung Fu, Boxing, as well as functional performance strength training, make her powerful performances authentic and most memorable. Recently, her performances have been seen at reputable charity events including Jeans 4 Justice in which she gave a “haunting performance.” In addition, Laura was a featured artist at the Equality California Campaign Event, held at the W Hotel in San Diego for government officials and approximately 500 attendees. The event was a huge success and created a buzz in San Diego surrounding Flying Laura and her breathtaking abilities. All this has inspired Laura to create and promote her own events, combining her love of live music and dance. These events, which have included Grammy Award winning musicians and international acts, have created an overwhelming response in the community and repeatedly sell out. When Flying Laura is not performing, she is teaching pole fitness classes at her art studio in Encinitas, CA, as well as workshops all along the west coast. “My goal is to empower and inspire. I love the feeling of connecting with people through passion and self expression and bringing a higher meaning to all that we do.” With plans to teach and perform internationally, her goal of reaching new audiences will surely take her there and beyond.
“David C. Owen, APFC 2010 Men’s Division 2nd Place Champion
Inspired by gymnasts, martial artists and acrobats which he only saw on television, he began training himself to perform backbends, walkovers, splits, handsprings, and other unusual physical feats armed only with what he learned from his schoolmates and what he had observed by watching exercise programs and other athletic events. David could often be found trying to contort into odd and extreme shapes or hanging upside down on school playground equipment. He misused his parents’ furniture by treating it as an apparatus to perform acrobatic feats of various kinds, dreaming of developing a high degree of physical virtuosity. Never having received any formal training in dance or gymnastics, David discovered later in his adulthood that a simple pole was an adequate medium to express all of his childhood longings to reduce the limitations imposed on his body by gravity, age, and other natural processes. Thus the obvious happened; pole quickly became his obsession and primary preoccupation. He found the pole community on YouTube and began trying to copy the stunts and maneuvers he saw performed by leading pioneers in the pole community. Noticing that males in the pole community were minimally represented, usually only by skilled males providing a recital of advanced tricks with little artistry, or exotic dancers with minimal acrobatic prowess, David sought to develop pole skills that would enable him to combine creative expression with advanced aerial gymnastics. He has studied astrology for thirteen years and has seen clients for astrological services on a professional basis.
KT Coates has been a pole fitness performer for over 13 years. KT is Ranked as one of the top pole fitness instructors the world. She gained a BTEC National Diploma in sports studies, a CYQ exercise to music qualification, NCFE in Vertical Dance, a First Aid Certificate, Pole Dancing Public liability Insurance and full membership to the Register of Exercise Professionals. More recently she has become a certified group exercise instructor with Americas top fitness governing body ACE, and has become a level 3 instructor in pre and post natal fitness with REPS. She has worked tirelessly to achieve recognition for pole fitness as a reputable form of group fitness and provide the industry with standards and guidelines, resulting in the world’s first instructors qualification in Vertical Dance and the only online certification in pole fitness. KT has taught hundreds of instructors around the world how to be a safe and effective pole fitness instructor. KT is most proud of her series of Vertical Dance Workout DVDs that launched in September 07. She wrote and directed the DVDs and the first complete guide to teaching pole dance from a fitness perspective. KT is the director of Vertical Dance and is proud to own a world record of the most people simultaneously pole dancing around the world, which raised of £50,000 for charities. She was also the first to name and photography many of the classic pole dance moves, which names are still used today. In 2008 KT took part in the new series of Gladiators. She beat 20,000 hopefuls to win one of 16 places on the show. She got through to the quarter finals winning a place in the Gladiator hall of fame for her unmatched performance on hang tough, she beat both gladiators Tempest and Battle Axe managing to complete the course.
Dominic Lacasse holds 2 time Guinness World Records for the longest human flag at 39 secs. and the most Chin-Up performance in human flag position. Dominic appeared on the Guinness World Record show in November 2007. He says the TV show was the beginning of everything because it gave him credibility. He soon found himself in growing demand, traveling around the world performing his Chinese Pole routine both in person and on television shows. Before long, performing took up so much of his time he had to stop teaching. Dominic says he is flattered that other gymnasts have adopted the human flag into their routines. “I am flattered to be seen like a model,” he admits. “I am happy to see people get inspire and creating their own way of doing their things. And if someone does some of my moves, I know that they have worked hard.” He also tries to inspire his audience. “I try to be there each second, focus my body on my choreography, focus on my music and focus on the public reaction to use their energy. I always say to myself before I perform: do it like it was your last one; be proud of what you have accomplished, of what you do; and enjoy each second. Make it fun!” Three years after his first world record, he set a second by doing ten chin-ups while in the human flag position. He has been approached to get involved with promoting pole fitness but says that for now, he just wants “To continue my nice adventure as long as possible. Do new TV shows, other big shows, discover the world, and show my act to as much people as possible. And just try to keep in shape for four or five more years!“
“to continue my nice adventure as long as possible. Do new TV shows, other big shows, discover the world, and show my act to as much people as possible. And just try to keep in shape for four or five more years!.”
Mario and Emil Tzekov known as ” The Valentino Brothers” were born and raised in Vratsa, Bulgaria and studied Martial Arts in Military Academy in Pazardjik. They began learning the principles of Hatha Yoga in 1989 after meeting their teacher Ventsislav Evtimov who introduced them into the philosophy and secrets of Yoga. Since very early childhood they were interested in the unknown arts for that time like Martial Arts and Yoga. They began vigorously searching to expand their knowledge about those ancient disciplines. So from there Emil and Mario started their training and in a short period of time they came to the conclusion that to be effective in those areas, two conditions needed to be accomplished, namely their bodies had to gain flexibility and strength. In 1990 they moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina where they lived for 8 years. During that time, they developed a system to enhance flexibility which enables the disciple to prepare for advanced states of Yoga. Mario and Emil ran studios that taught the system to the yoga practitioners, dancers, and students of Martial Arts. These studios are still in operation under the guidance of some of their former students. From 1998 until 2004 the Valentino Brothers lived in New York City where they continued their research of all the components of a healthy lifestyle which accounted for the overall well-being of the body and mind. They moved to Santa Barbara in 2004 where they continued teaching yoga and flexibility in athletic clubs, fitness centers and private studios as well as working with celebrities and promising athletes preparing them for competitions in their fields. A little under a year ago, Mario and Emil were introduced to Pole Fitness. After trying the pole exercises for a few months they realized how well-rounded and beneficial the workout is; how much strength it delivers for the entire body. Since then they have been working on adapting their system for the pole fitness performers and incorporating the pole exercises into their own daily workout.
Allegra is a world renowned international pole fitness performer and instructor, and has also appeared on national TV and radio in her homeland. Allegra has developed her skills on the pole and as an entertainer to become one of Australia’s top showgirls. Allegra is known for her unique combination of control and sensuality, and her mastery of the spinning pole. Allegra began pole dancing in November 2007 and in under two years was able to win the national title. Allegra is Miss Pole Dance Australia 2010.
Prana thanks her parents for introducing her to Rhythmic Gymnastic at the age of four and never looked back since. she excels into National Competitions during her 14 years tenure. Once graduated from High State Sports Educator of Gymnastic in 2006, she took on a new challege and became a teacher. Around that time, she was privileged to join the teaching of her first discipline RG and Fitness where (steps, LIA, Bodysculpt, Stretching) were the essence of teaching. In late 2007, she made a discovery online and it quickly became another passion and she fell in love rapidly with pole fitness. The reason for the love is due to the fact the feeling she had was coherent to the feeling she shares as a gymnast. She took classes regularly and chose to participate in Miss Pole Dance, France 2008. That, in itself was the first election of pole fitness in France, an event in which she ended up as the 4th runner up. She was the sponsors choice and she blew the heart of the juries despite having just four months of practice. By the end of the year, she became a pole fitness instructor, a position she gladly accepted being so passionate about the education and activities related to pole fitness. She is today a highly respected, world renowned pole fitness instructor and performer.