„I just can’t express other people’s emotions” - interview with Yvonne Smink
She can do anything on the pole but is scared to drive. She started out as a mountain bike trainer and she got to pole dancing through wall climbing. Then she went from lamp posts through YouTube videos and arrived at sexy. And it works for her. We talked to Yvonne during the break of the International Pole Art Festival.
Yesterday you performed a showcase at International Pole Art Festival and today, you are on the judges’ panel. How is this task different?
When I’m on stage, I have to divide my attention equally between the technique and the expression of my emotions. It is about wholeness. As a judge it is enough to concentrate on one aspect, in this case the technique.
This February, you entered the Classique category of Pole Theatre Paris which was quite surprising… what brought about this idea?
My sister is into Japanese culture and it was at her place that I saw a very bizarre painting of a young woman making love to an octopus. I thought „Wow, this is interesting!”. That’s where it started. I like to get inspiration from different sources. I got the idea for this choreography’s movements from a break dancer friend of mine. I don’t really wear high heels so this was super challenging for me. I ruined three pairs of platform shoes while experimenting with the routine. (laughs)
Your athletic past cannot be called ordinary. While many pole dancers come from rythmic gymnastics or ballet or dance, you did climbing…
Yes, although originally, I am an outdoor trainer. As such, I can teach any kind of outdoor sports: I used to work as a mountain bike trainer. I still do climbing but not so often as it takes a lot of energy and I am trying to concentrate on pole. But I still sometimes join my friends for a Belgian outing – Holland is so flat, you can climb exactly nothing. (laughs) When I’m at home, I do wall climbing.
How did climbing add to your pole performance?
Tension first and foremost. As I’m quite petite, many times I have to do so-called dynamic jumps while climbing (this means that many times I have to use momentum to get to a higher place). This gives you a good basis. Also, caution. I did some crazy things but I always made sure to have a thick mat underneath, a rope around my waist or someone spotting me.
You also tried Chinese pole!
Yes, but that’s a bit tricky to arrange because in the Netherlands you can only practice Chinese pole if you are a circus performer. So I always have to travel to France when I want to do it. There’s a pretty big community there. However, I’m a big fan of Chinese pole, but for now I’d rather stick to the normal one.
You’re quite fearless. Are there any tricks that make even you think twice or requires extra effort from you?
Also, I don’t know if it’s noticeable but I don’t usually do the splits. I’d like to use my cycling background as an excuse why my hamstrings are so tight but actually I should just stretch more. (laughs)
How would you define your style?
Hm… in one word? I don’t think I can do that. If I had to give it a label, it would be „experimental flow”. I’m constantly trying new things and am trying to create one flowy movement.
How did your pole career start?
A friend of mine took me to my first class. I checked it out and loved it. At first, I didn’t have anywhere to practice so I usually was hanging from lamp posts. I basically took my first steps in the direction of street pole. After the basics, I started developing myself, I looked at YouTube videos and tried using those to improve.
When you train for competitions, do you do it alone?
Absolutely. I believe I can only show on stage what is in me. I have no choreographer: I can’t express other people’s emotions. Emotions have to develop within me so that I could show them. I am no dancer, so maybe I am moving a little different than a dancer usually does.. I just want to reflect what I feel in my own way.
So, when your choreography shows sorrow, you are sad yourself?
Yes. It’s interesting, you can work with so many emotions and yet, it’s usually sadness that finds me.
Are you the nervous type?
So nervous! Before going on stage, you can’t talk to me. But as soon as I step in front of the audience, I immediately calmed down.
Many popular pole dancers claim to be perfectionists. Are you one of them?
Absolutely! I’m always going for the perfect performance, and I’m constantly dissatisfied. But I believe it will come with time and life-experience.. The key is of course constant practice and improvement.
What do you do when you don’t train?
I love to read, especially crime stories and thrillers. I should also do something about my driver’s licence…I’ve been putting it off for 3 years.
I’m terrified. While I feel completely in control on the pole, when you drive, there is this thing there that’s completely unpredictable and it’s called a car. It’s a huge responsibility.
(Above: Yvonne's winning routine at Pole Theatre Paris 2016, where so became not only the winner of the Classique category, but also the overall winner.)
Photos: Facebook, video: YouTube
Author: Eszter Varga