Here comes our subcultalk with pole dancer and teacher Carolina Varela from Lisbon, Portugal.
Carolina is the host of the "Ebbs & Flows Pole Dance Workshops" that take place at the popular pole dance studio "Pole Dance Portugal" in Lisbon, Portugal.
Carolina was born in Lisbon in 2002. Next to her pole dance practice, she is also studying psychology.
During our interview, the passionate pole dancer and teacher tells us why her favorite word "amor" is, why she's a fan of "meditation in motion" and why vulnerability and sensuality are her main sources of inspiration.
- What is the art you are doing?
This question makes me reflect on the concept of art and artist. It's still unfamiliar and strange to see myself as an artist, but I understand that, at the heart of the matter, this is what I am, or at least this is what I produce: Art. It's just hard for me to believe that other human beings, existing in the same existence as me, interpret what I do as art. That's a huge compliment for me.
I dance, more specifically, I do pole dancing, a modality that originated in the strip clubs and that I feel the need to mention, because in my view, it's beautiful to refer where things originated from and to give value to those who allowed pole dancing to be what it is nowadays. I like to combine movements from other types of dance in my practice, currently I'm trying to combine some contemporary dance movements with my art. I think contemporary can add some drama to my practice, which is something I really appreciate. One of my favorite things to do is convey sentimentality through pole dancing.
- What is your favorite feeling?
My favorite feeling would probably be the feeling when I find myself liking something. For example, when I started my pole dance journey. I can't explain the emotion, this feeling I had when I realized that this was really what I wanted to continue doing.
It's like a feeling of understanding something, like "Oh yeah, that's it!" above all, combined with adoration; like when we understand that we love someone who does us good. I think that's my favorite feeling.
- What is your favorite word?
It's interesting how I interpret this as a difficult question, among many other questions I chose to answer. Probably because I also really enjoy writing. I love choosing my “word of the week”, which is basically choosing the words that I currently like the most. It turns out to be difficult for me to choose just one.
Of all the words that are out there, and that I appreciate the most, I think I would have to choose “Amor”, which translated from Portuguese, means “Love” in English. I chose the word amor because, when I started my practice, that was what I usually felt: A great love and admiration for this modality. Pole dancing has also allowed me to love the things around me more naturally: My body, the way I move, the way I think and act; it wasn't something forced. Above all, I learned to love myself as a natural phenomenon, with its flaws and abilities. That is, sometimes I love myself more, sometimes I love myself less, a natural love, nothing excessive or perfect.
Of all the words, I would choose amor, because pole dancing has allowed me to love as if it were as normal and natural as breathing.
- What is the best wake-up time for you?
The best time for me to wake up is hypothetical, as I definitely slouch (as usual) and constantly wake up at a time that isn't ideal. To be honest, my sleep hygiene isn't the best, due to some frequent insomnia issues I had when I was younger.
I usually wake up around seven in the morning, but I believe that the best for me - considering that I am a person who likes to move and exercise, especially in the morning - waking up at six would be ideal. I choose six since I would probably have more time to eat well and move around.
When I mean movement, it can be the most basic thing. I don't like to do heavy exercises, or to do things that require a lot of effort in the morning. Some examples would be walking or stretching the body. I really appreciate having my own time with myself, with my body, alone and without interference in the morning. I feel that it's a time of the day when everything and everyone is quiet. It is a moment of privacy that involves everyone, which also helps me to enter a deep meditative state with ease.
I believe that meditation in motion is something interesting to explore, especially for people who are not comfortable - or who simply cannot, like me - meditate while being still. It's nice when I have the chance to take advantage of this moment of silence in the morning to connect with myself. It’s like I’m saying “good morning” to my body.
- What are you most afraid of?
I feel that I'm afraid of many things. I don't know if it would be easy to point that out to me. Some people characterize me as someone neutral, where they sometimes have some difficulty in interpreting what I'm feeling. Well, I do see myself as an extremely fearful and reluctant person, living in a world full of possible fears and paranoia.
If I choose to talk about more superficial fears, I'm afraid when I need to draw blood, I'm afraid of crawling insects, driving, falling while pole dancing - the most natural fear for any aerialist -, among others. However, the fears that make me most uneasy would be losing someone I love - something equally common and basic. And not enjoying doing what I currently love to do.
By working with pole dancing, and by being someone extremely demanding with myself, I don't allow myself to fail. Something that also awakens a certain fear in me, the possibility of failure. I hate it when I miss a trick or movement, I think it's something unthinkable for me to do as an instructor; for putting this pressure on myself, sometimes I feel unwilling or disgusted to practice pole dancing. I'm afraid of not liking something that, deep down, I know is very good for me, all because of an insistent perfectionism.
- What is the feeling you like the least?
As much as it is something common among everyone, although there would be no reason for me to be someone "unusual" to the point of feeling feelings different from all other breathing beings, I do not like to feel lonely, or excluded. Now that I am reflecting on it while writing, it comes to be something - in my view - a little childish, or maybe something quite egotistical.
Anyway, as much as my ego screams for attention, just as every ego asks for even a crumb of care, I don't like feeling alone. I enjoy my company, I enjoy the moments I have just with myself, in fact, I consider them essential. But I don't like to admit that I am, in fact, alone or by myself.
- What makes you feel most alive?
Just reading this question makes me feel goosebumps all over my body.
What makes me feel alive is definitely when I'm pole dancing. Especially, when I decide to climb the bar and I get really high, and if I have the courage to risk doing some trick that I'm afraid of, even better. It's literally inexplicable what I feel, the vast majority of people laugh when I comment that it's practically like flying. I understand that it's funny. I also laugh when telling this. But it's still the reality for me. I mention several times that pole dancing taught me to fly, it's an irreplaceable feeling that aerial modalities offer us.
- What inspires you most?
To observe the sensuality of the human being. When I refer to sensuality, I not only include the expression that we normally associate with this word, which would be something like, perhaps, attractive. But I also like to refer to the natural meaning of the sensual, which is the carnal connection with our five physical and humanoid senses. The pole dance community is something very dear to me, the way we turn an individual modality into something collective is something extremely poetic. When I notice the sensuality of other people doing pole, I feel inspired. I’m also inspired to connect with my body, and offer movement that is pleasurable for me during my session.
I’m equally inspired when I notice that I feel vulnerable during my practice, or when I watch someone express their vulnerability through pole dancing. In my view, vulnerability is something we rarely like to express, especially in the eyes of others. When I take the opportunity to dance while expressing myself as I really am, as a vulnerable and sensitive being, I feel inspired and tempted to improve more and more.
- What do you do when you feel sad?
Usually, on a normal day, I cry. It's funny now that I have the opportunity to write to other people what I think, but it's the truth, I allow myself to cry. I think that in our routine we rarely let ourselves feel the events around us in a true way. So, I allow myself to simply cry when something makes me sad.
On a lucky day, I cry and dance. Sometimes both at the same time, I have the possibility to justify that I'm crying because of the pain, which in the end is still true - since I already cried by being in pain due to pole dancing.
I think I wrote a little too much, but I'm also a person who not only likes to write, but also to read, so I'm hoping that some people that like to read, appreciate my subcultalk. It was really fun to express myself through these questions. And thank you so much, Kat, for offering me the opportunity to write a little more about myself!
- Thank you Caterina! For your courage to be vulnerable and sensual and your determination to follow the path of inspiration in your life!
When you read Carolina's subcultalk and feel inspired now to learn the basics of pole dance as well, book a spot at her "Ebbs & Flows Pole Dance Workshop" in Lisbon, Portugal, here.
If would like to share your own thoughts, feelings or experience, please use the comment section below.
Until next time!