• Maëlys Renaud

5 Ways Pole Dancers can Tackle Climate Change

Two of the challenges of addressing climate change - and other environmental issues - are that 1/ we see the ecosystem as serving us, not as part of us ; 2/ we have isolated approaches for a global problem. In some cases, what hinders us from action in the first place is that we either feel apathy towards the impact of climate change or are overwhelmed by it. Dance, including pole dance, helps us to connect to ourselves and to connect as a global community. It is a beautiful way of building empathy and expressing emotions to overcome our inertia to act.

I find strength in moving, dancing, and those precious moments around the pole replenish my energy to take actions. Let's explore the variety of ways pole dancers can tackle climate change!


1/ By strengthening and loving ourselves

Life can be challenging, and the first step towards climate change actions is to feel empowered. Pole dance does that! It helps us reclaim our inner power. There are so many members of the pole community that share their empowering and healing journey through pole dance. “As I became more obsessed with pole, I felt my strength and confidence increasing (I swear, no one will hype you up the way the pole community will!). (...) Pole marked a new phase in my healing, showing me how I could feel both emotionally soothed and physically strengthened at the same time.” told Sammy Picone in her interview for Vogue. I have personally experienced and witnessed this transformation of self and it is life changing.


With the planet in mind, I like to twist the famous quote “To love others you must first love yourself.”? to “To love the planet you must first love yourself.” I would even emphasize: “To show up for others - and the planet - you must show up for yourself first.” Our regained power is our strength to tackle contemporary issues.

Photo from a Total Reset experience retreats (pole dance, movement, and healing) - founded by Zen Oasis (read Zen Oasis' interview to learn more about it).

2/ By exploring our relationship with the natural ecosystems

Let’s face it: pole dance has evolved from performances just in strip clubs to a recreational sport and an art form seen on public stages across the world. This means there are many opportunities for pole dancers to explore relationships with those new environments and particularly the natural world. What does it mean for a pole dancer to be in touch with its environment? How can we be in tune with the landscapes and architecture around us? What is the impact of the space we dance in? What are the types of biodiversity and pollution in the area? What is the seasonal food that can support my body and my practice?


To be and feel integrated with the living ecosystems, we need to gain a holistic perspective. To do so, we can learn from what I call the sister disciplines - like yoga and contemporary dance - and explore how they contribute to the environmental movement.


Yoga is the practice of union, of understanding and feeling our interconnectedness with each other and with nature. This ancient practice has developed in the context of a close relationship with the Earth, the cosmos and with a profound reverence for animals, plants, soil, water and air. There are many lessons to be learned in the roots of yoga and by practicing the awareness of prana, or life force.


Contemporary dance is a great source of inspiration. Dance practitioners have long acknowledged their environment and have worked with and in it in myriads of forms. Choreographers have developed movement techniques based on humankind’s relationship with nature, have sought thematic inspiration from the environment, and have even embedded their work in various landscapes. To delve into the larger context of dance can bring a sense of oneness, togetherness and connectedness.

Bay Area dance choreographer KT Nelson’s production "Dead Reckoning" demonstrates how humans are navigating blindly through environmental damage.

3/ By integrating environmental values

When I find an object that meets one of my needs, I ask myself a whole set of questions before taking out my wallet. When I'm not buying second-hand, I try to choose products that are both “ethical” and “environmentally friendly”. One may ask what is a responsible brand?

Way too often brands appropriate such claims even though their flaws are numerous, their motives questionable and the sincerity to their commitments shallow. When a brand calls itself “responsible”, there are minimum requirements, a duty of transparency and a need to demonstrate a real desire to do better in the near future. Here are some ways brands can show their commitment to building a responsible brand:

  • Building robust sustainability plans and sharing them publicly.

  • Sourcing organic materials, resources and food.

  • Incorporating the UN Sustainable Development Goals in their strategy: adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty and protect the planet, it is a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

  • Committing to be fair trade, an approach to business based on dialogue, transparency, and respect that seeks to create greater equity in the international trading system.

  • Becoming B-corp certified, a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.

  • Demonstrating to be BIPOC committed.

  • Making public commitments to regenerative agriculture.

  • Offsetting carbon emissions: neutralizing the number of carbon emissions from business operations when the emissions can’t be reduced further.

Maëlys Renaud, founder of Pole Dance for the Planet, wearing Atelier Bordelle, a luxury lingerie brand with transparent sustainability values and mission including: "quality over quantity", "restore, revive, recycle", "plastic neutral" goals. Photo by Kevin Kohl.

4/ By raising awareness

Past research states that an effective climate communicator is not necessarily an expert, but a person who uses their platform to create a dialogue, and encourages public engagement with climate change by making the issues interesting and appealing to viewers.


As pole dancers, we are often looked up to for our strength, resilience and creativity. Our pole dance community is a model for the world and has the opportunity to raise environmental awareness. We have the power to use storytelling and to intertwine our pole dance visuals, films and messages with both environmental issues and solutions. Pick what you are passionate about or what’s closest to you: deforestation, coral bleaching, the protection of local species, a local non-profit, veganism, your love for the outdoors, biking, wind power, solar energy etc. and find creative ways to include it in your imagery or to mention it around you and on social media. Your awareness is the most powerful tool to induce climate change actions.

Austrian artist Stephanie Millinger performs balancing stunt on wind turbine for Global Wind Day

5/ Share your own ways!

There are many ways to tackle climate change and environmental issues: find your own! And tell me about it!


 

Let’s do this together! Tell us in the comments how you tackle contemporary issues. Is there an environmental issue that you care about the most? Why so?

Was this post helpful? If it was, please consider buying me a chaï latte! I actually often make it myself, using bulk chaï from my favorite local shop Wild Terra in Highland Park, Los Angeles, and honey from The Urban Homestead, a local urban farm where I volunteer. And all the loose tea then goes to our community compost. From now on, I’ll make a point to bring my own cup at the coffee shop so you won’t even be funding more plastic going to landfill! Support me here or by sharing this article with a colleague or a friend.

 

With love,

Maëlys Renaud

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