Utah-based Charlee Shae Wagner’s journey into pole began with seven years as as a competition All-Star Cheerleader. Earning a full-ride scholarship to Weber State University, she soon discovered aerial arts and fell in love with aerial hammock and pole fitness, leading to a career as an instructor at the studio where she lives in Utah, and at workshops around the world.
Charlee has gone on to become one of pole’s leading tricksters, winning Tricks Battle Champion at National Aerial Pole Art 2012, Female Champion at International Pole Masters Cup 2012, Bad Kitty Tricks Battle Champion at Pole Convention 2012, and champion at the North American Pole Dance Championship National Elite 2012, Pole Expo 2012 Pole-A-Palooza and National Aerial Pole Art 2013.
Charlee prides herself on creating never-before-seen moves that push the limits of flexibility and strength – and is responsible for this year’s big hit Move Of The Moment – the Dragon’s Tail.
REVVED UP POLE: So you have recently had a major pole hit on your hands with your famous Dragon’s Tail move that swept like wildfire through the pole community on social media. How does it feel knowing you are such a inspiration, and why do you think the move was such a big hit?
CHARLEE SHAE WAGNER: I am happy that everyone likes my new move! I had no idea that it would be such a big hit and spread all over the world the way it did! I love that I am in a position to inspire so many people to take their pole passion to the next level. I think what makes the Dragon’s Tail so popular is that there are a number of ways get into it, as well as different options to get out of it. You don’t have to be a pro pole dancer to succeed at this trick… It doesn’t take a ton of flexibility or strength, just the correct placement of your body.
RUP: You are very open and approachable on your Facebook page, and share pictures of polers around the world in your Dragon’s Tail move. How important is it to you to stay in contact with and communicate with those you inspire?
CSW: This is HUGE to me! I want anyone and everyone to come to me with questions they have. I absolutely LOVE people and wish to support and help out as many men and women as I can. I think the more that I can share, the happier I am! So really I am just being selfish because I love to inspire, encourage, and be there for everyone!
RUP: You pride yourself on creating new and unusual moves. Do you ever create any moves that don’t make the grade for whatever reason?
CSW: Hahahaha YES! There are many tricks that I have developed, or am in the process developing that definately do not make the cut! Interestingly enough, quite a few of my tricks that did make the grade were discovered by accident. A couple of tricks were created while trying to invent something else. One was inspired when I fell and happened to catch myself… I now call it the Eleenana.
RUP: You are known for your choreography and pole flow. Do you think too much pressure is being placed on “pole athleticism”, and that dance can take a back seat in many pole fitness classes?
CSW: When I first started pole I honestly didn’t care about flowing at all… All I wanted to do were the tricks! No matter how much my instructor told me to take my time and use interesting hands as well as body movement, it just wasn’t what I wanted to practice at the time. Flow didn’t become important to me until I wanted to start performing. I would video myself a lot and realized that I connected almost all my tricks with an outside leg hang or right side up. I didn’t like the way the choppy transitions looked, so I started focusing on flow a lot more. I think that pole is an individual expression. In classes they may only teach the athleticism of pole, but as an individual you can always take the dance to class. When your teacher gives you time to practice the new trick, add a spin and some floor work to the new material you have been taught.
RUP: And what tips do you have for anyone hoping to add more dance and pole flow to their style?
CSW: My biggest suggestion is to watch videos of yourself. If you only get tips and suggestions from other people you won’t be able to find your individual flow and dance. I always tell students, what looks good on me might not look good on you, and the other way around! I think it is also important to freestyle and just feel the music. My most memorable experience that connected me to the dance aspect of pole was taking a freestyle dance class at the Choreography House. Crystal put a blindfold over my eyes and told me to feel the music, move and dance. It was so freeing to not know what I looked like, and just dance! I believe it is really important to disconnect from your brain and just let your body take you.
RUP: Who do you like watching perform at the moment, and who do you think will be the next big thing in the industry?
I love watching everyone perform, to be honest! I think that the uniqueness of this industry is inspiring. However, I LOVE when a dancer can take a move and flow so seamlessly into another move the audience is wowed and didn’t even know what happened. I couldn’t tell you who the next big thing is because there are so many amazing artists popping out from everywhere! Choosing who is my favourite person to watch is like asking me my favourite flavour of ice cream… I pretty much like them all!
RUP: What direction do you see the pole industry going in in the future?
CSW: The future of pole dancing excites me! I think that the competitiveness is just going to go up. As an industry I believe we will begin realizing that the strength is in the dance! What I mean by that is the fluidity and grace should meet with strength and flexibility. In the future, I want pole to incorporate EVERYTHING! I believe the tricks are going to get crazier, the transitions are going to get smoother, and no one is going to be able to deny that it is a sport!
RUP: How much of your success is down to God given talent, and how much is hard graft?
CSW: My background is in cheerleading. I worked my ass off to be the best on my team. By the time I was best on my team, I worked to be the best in the state, then the nation! I have always loved competition, I think it inspires people to push past their boundaries and open up their creative box. I think I have a lot of developed talent for pole because of my cheer background, but I also had to work for everything I have. I wasn’t born flexible, I have spent countless hours stretching and feeling my own body to get as bendy as I can. It surprises me how flexible I have gotten and continue to push my expectations of what is possible for me. If I can do it, with the same patience and dedication anyone can. Pretty much every new combo or trick I try begins rough, it’s not pretty at all. I practice them over and over for hours till I am satisfied. I once had a student that had only ever see me be graceful and always have smooth seamless transitions. One day I invited her to come to one of my personal training days with me. As she watched me try a new trick, her reaction was…”I have never seen you do anything that ugly on a pole.” My response to her was, “everything starts a little sketchy, however, once I get the trick, I then try to make it perfect and pretty!” So I guess to answer your question in a short version… My strength and courage from cheer helped me when I started pole dancing. But as for talent and fluidity on the pole that came completely from hard work.
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