From sign language interpreter to touring artist - interview with Heidi Coker
She established herself as a household name in the pole community with her 2014 pink panther and 2013 Pole Art jazz choreography. Intelligent, inventive and merry. This is probably the best way to describe Heidi Coker who sat on the judges’ panel at Pole Theatre Paris 2017.
How did you get inspired to start pole dancing?
I saw an Oprah show where a girl talked about how pole dancing gave her a lot of confidence. I thought why couldn’t I do it? It wasn’t until a few years, 2009 that I did start eventually. Then soon after I started, I competed in USPDF East Coast competition (Training on a 50 mm brass pole!) and to my surprise won 2nd place.
You do have a solid basis…
Yes, I used to be a gymnast which helped me a lot. I also dabble in capoeira and break dancing, whose elements are also included in some of my choreos.
How do you feel about competitions? Does winning motivate you?
Competitions were always a mystery to me. I mean, someone might be flexible, others may be strong, then others might be amazing dancers. How can you compare them? I am not motivated by winning. My aim is to provide something on stage that the audience likes. I want them to enjoy what I do and to create that “moment”. If I mess something up, my biggest problem is the fact that I didn't practice enough.
Do you have a choreographer?
No, I do everything on my own. I know that a lot of people work with choreographers but I feel that only I can represent my own style.
But your dad appears in a lot of your Instagram videos...
Yes, he helps me a lot. He used to teach swimming and diving, he is good at assisting me. Sometimes I would get a new idea and call him to tell him what I thought of and later, we will work on it together.
Looking at your somersaults I must ask if you ever injured yourself?
Luckily I haven’t. Pole took a toll on my shoulders but that is an occupational hazard. And I constantly work my physical therapy to keep them strong.
Are there any pole icons you look up to?
I love Felix Cane. She was my first introduction to pole dancing as an art. And Oona, she used to be a gymnast too, so I could identify with her style as well.
(translated by Andrea Tamás)
Do you do anything aerial aside from pole?
I've tried hoop and rope, and of course chinese pole. It is interesting how many artists on chinese pole are little known. Two of my favorites are Mikael Bres and Jesse Huygh.
What do you do when you don’t do pole?
I love to cook, garden and read. Sometimes I wish I could just sit around at home, no pole, just leading a normal life. It is two different things to do pole for a hobby and as a profession. But then again I feel that my former profession - working in a 9am-5pm setting wouldn’t suffice any more.