"I was the weird one" - interview with Marion Crampe
Anyone following Marion will know that she has been named inspirational, ‘Pole Fairy’ in fact among many other things. Really, the praise just goes on and on. Whenever I hear something like that I never know what to expect. Super zen? Hippi-style laid-back? Spirituality? Serenity? Overflowing kindness? Read the interview below made during the first Pole Theatre Hungary in Budapest and decide for yourself.
Ballet, jazz, hip-hop. You dabbled in all of them before pole. How do they add to your pole dancing journey?
I’m going to be honest. I was not good at any of them. People think because of the style I represent that I am a trained ballet dancer. I did ballet and I was passionate about it like every little girl, but I was not good at it, like I wasn’t good at hiphop either. I was more comfortable in hip-hop, but with ballet, I suffered and even my teacher said ‘You’re not very good at this’. But I believe I am where I am today because I stopped caring about what people thought.
Once I had an audition with Patrick Dupond, a very famous French ballet dancer who told me I must have been training ballet for long but as the truth I told to him I couldn't really say that. I move as my body wants to move. Once I let go of expectations and wanting to move like a ballet dancer, that is when it became natural and that’s when it started to look like conservatory trained ballet dancing.
I was very young when I practised these and I was not very confident in my body and yet, I loved being on stage. I was on stage a lot dancing hip-hop and got a lot of experience.
And sure, they all added to my journey, but the day I have decided to be enough for myself, was the most important. I dance what I feel.
I understand that pole is a huge part of your life professionally and that you give a lot back by teaching and modelling. Apart from the obvious, what did this artform give to you?
Do you want to make me cry? (laughs) Pole dancing gave me friends. I was a very lonely person, which may seem weird, but indeed, I was very lonely when I was young, because I always felt very different. I was not shy but I couldn’t really connect to people, so I didn’t have that many friends. People always said I was the weird one. I guess my general being was weird for other people. When I was 5 or 6, I wrote some words on my diary asking 'Why don't people understand?' I already felt different.
In the pole community, for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel so different, and I realized it was okay to be different. I was accepted the way I was. I think my best friends are definitely pole dancers. And that’s not because I am exclusive to other people, it’s because I’ve met the most amazing people in my whole life. Everybody is trusting and so passionate about other things, not just pole, and they are smart and it’s just such a rich community.
Pole dancing also gave me self-confidence, because now I know that my difference is my power.
I found a job, an artform that I am so passionate about. People often ask me how I can still be so passionate about pole dancing and train all the time. I don’t train because I have to. Obviously, it’s my job, I wake up in the morning, some people go to the office to work, I go to the studio and train, because this is my job. But I also do it because it’s my fuel and I love it.
I am so lucky that I found a man, who not only accepted my life but supports it. He is so supportive and so knowledgeable. Like now, you could do an interview with him and he would go ‘Marlo? - Fisken!’ or ‘Jenyne? - Butterfly!’. He knows the names of everyone. It’s so cute because I would say ‘Oh, I saw Natasha…’ and he would go ‘Wang!’ (laughs) Now he met most of them and couldn’t believe that the most amazing pole dancers would sleep in his house and that they would become friends. He loves them as humans and so many of them spend time with us just as friends and it’s amazing to have this support.
So I even found a husband. I met him during the Pole Camp in Barcelona. Basically, pole dancing gave me everything.
What does he do?
He’s an engineer and has his own company. But he is also very passionate about sports. He practises cycling and he also did Iron Man. The day before we got married, he was in the Iron Man World Championship which was his second triathlon, so he is kind of an alien. I call him my Alien. He also paints and handles my merchandise, my website, he does everything. He’s amazing.
You have been named many things, one of them being Most Positive Role Model in the pole community. Why do you think it is important to be a role model? What kind of responsibilities does this entail?
I don’t do what I do for titles. People may think I’m nice for a reason, to attract this kind of attention but this is just the way I am. I don’t see it as a responsibility I just think this is the way it should be and there shouldn’t be any prizes or titles for this. We are all so different, with different cultural backgrounds, beliefs and thoughts. Something I say in Chile might not be received the same way as in Korea, because of many things, the story of the country, the culture, the people themselves. So I just keep doing what I do and I feel very honored when I get recognition. I don’t expect it and I don’t change anything to get it. It’s not a responsibility but I like to pass it on. I hope to inspire people to do the same but the community is already pretty much like that.
Also, just like today, I came into the studio and introduced myself. I like to be introduced and I introduce myself as Marion. Sometimes people are like “This is Marion and she’s famous.” Well...Wrong. I’m just Marion. I’m sitting here talking to you and I’m just me. Voilá! Tomorrow, when I’m going to have to perform, yes, people expect something from me.
I changed for my career in the past but I have come to a point in my life where I’m just enough. I love being over 30, I think it’s the best. Life starts after thirty. I feel I’m enough and if you don’t like it, don’t look. I have this viral video and people are leaving comments like “She’s too skinny” or other things, but I don’t take it in a negative way. They don’t realize that I read all of the comments. It’s okay to have an opinion but you have to be careful, because there are human beings behind the videos. I try to educate people. You just need to take a step back and consider that there’s a human being there. I often laugh it off and joke back. And they laugh and their point of view might change. I often respond in order to initiate a change.
As a trainer/teacher, what values do you represent?
I don’t allow phones in my class. Sometimes yes, but mostly it’s a no. Not because I don’t want to be filmed, but because I want to bring back the social connection. When you go to a workshop, maybe not consciously, but you go to meet new people. We forget that the best computers are our brains and bodies. So it annoys a lot of people at the beginning of the class to not have their phone, but by the end, they will understand. When some people after the workshops are more into the tricks we did then I know I missed something. And often I receive texts and messages that they are still high from my class and this is magical.
I also try to communicate that it’s possible. With the right technique and discipline, everything is. When I wake up in the morning, I am not the girl off instagram. I need to warm up a lot. A lot of what I do is very visually impressive but also doable. I can’t do a lot of things that many pole dancers - who I admire a lot - can. I do with what I have and what I can do and make it a lot. It looks a lot. And then people at the end of my workshops realize they can do it. “I told you so.” I try to bring this to my classes.
I’ve read that you get a lot of inspiration from the people that you teach. Do you have any stories?
Just today, I was teaching a move and this girl was doing it wrong but then I thought ‘Wait a minute, that’s fucking amazing!’. Instead of bending her leg on one side, she bent it on the other side, and I’m going to take that home and “cook” it some more, because I loved it. So it happens lots of times. If you watch my instagram, I don’t follow a lot of pole dancers. I look at them but I like to have my feed full of things to feed my soul something else than what I do every day. I follow painters, people who draw, sculptors. I study these guys and I try to translate what they have into what I do.
Also, a lot of students find their own way, because they are not on such a high level, and I like to see that, I watch them.
Tomorrow is the first ever Pole Theatre Hungary. What do you enjoy about these types of competitions?
Pole Theatre is my favorite kind of competition. First, I like that it’s not a million people competing in the same category, it’s nice to get just a little taste of all the different styles. It keeps my momentum and my passion up. When you have to watch too many people perform, you just get over it. Because there are fewer competitors, we can appreciate the performances more. I also like the freedom of expression, that it’s allowed. You get to see the creativity of all these people, and most of the time, the semi-pro category blows my mind. They may not have the skills to perform crazy tricks, but their performances are still amazing.
It also brings all these people together from around the world. I just admire Michelle and Maddie for doing this, it’s such an amazing event. I am happy that it’s all over the world and I’m honored to be judging so many of these competitions. I judged in Paris, now here and then the US. It’s amazing to discover new talent. I can’t wait to see more and I can’t wait for tomorrow.
What are the challenges of judging and what do you enjoy about judging?
For me, it’s more like a responsibility, people think you just sit there and judge other people, but it’s work. You have to focus and dedicate yourself to what you are watching. It’s different than judging a sports competition. There are rules but there is more freedom. What I’m looking for is to be touched, but not necessarily made cry by a sad story. You can tell me a story now and I would cry. I want to be touched by your soul, but not only because you are sad or because there is drama in your life, but because you have something to tell. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many tricks you are going to do - yes, tricks matter, this is pole dancing - but it’s about the whole package.
I am always blown away by semi-pros and how they put their story through, it is always very inspiring. And sure, we have to choose a winner, so we have rules, but I try to leave notes and explain why I gave the points that I gave. I always try to give feedback. Any time people send me their videos, and if they need it, I give them feedback.
What kind of a judge are you?
I’m strict but I won’t deduct points if your toes are not pointed for a second, it’s not that kind of competition. It’s more like I’m demanding. I keep my standards for myself very high, always seeking for perfection like most artists. I’m exigent but still I understand that this is not their job. People have normal jobs and on top of that, they do pole dancing and create those amazing acts. So I bring my demands but also an understanding of the level where competitors are at. I saw this girl in Croatia, and she didn’t have all those clean lines or anything but she was playing a drunk girl. And it was so tasteful and so subtle. You watched her and saw yourself on that occasion when you got drunk. Everyone got drunk at one point. She might not have been the best pole dancer but I’ll remember that perfomance.
What do you do when you don’t pole dance?
I love sports. When my husband started training for the Iron Man, I decided to train with him, otherwise I would never see him. I ended up swimming more than him. We swim or run together in the mornings when I am home. I also love to read. I read this amazing book about us, the human race, it’s very interesting. We love to watch documentaries.
We also love to hike and be in nature. Not even talking to each other. We have a “no phones in the house” rule. We lock our phones away for certain periods of time. It’s hardcore but doable. No phone during coffee in the morning, or meals or before morning kisses. We connect more this way, we talk.
I love shopping. I like to shop alone.
I meditate every day, it helps me recover from giving so much. I like to drink wine, listen to nice music with my friends. I prefer things at home. I just love being alive.
Author: Andrea Tamás