Interview with Anna-Maija Nyman
Anna-Maija came into pole dance after watching a pole dance video in 2011. With a background of competitive cheerleading, she fell immediately in love with pole dancing.
In 2013 Anna-Maija won her first competition. Now, she is a 5-times Swedish National champion and has multiple international titles, including the 1st place in Pole Expo in Las Vegas.
If you ask her, pole dance changed her life fully for the better 🙂
Read our full interview!
In a rush? Jump to the questions you are more interested in!
- What do you do when you’re not dancing?
- When and how did you start with pole dance?
- What was your biggest challenge when you started?
- How did you become a pole dance instructor?
- How long after you started pole dance did you have your first competition?
- Who inspired you when you started? And today?
- How does your day look like?
- How long and how often do you exercise?
- How do you create your choreographies?
- How do you choose the music?
- A favorite pole trick? A Nemesis trick?
- When and how did you start with exotic pole dance? What do you like about it?
- What do you think about pole dance competitions?
- How do you feel during competitions?
- What were the benefits for you of pole dance?
- What is your best advice for people that want to start but feel intimidated by the strength and flexibility required?
1. What do you do when you’re not dancing?
I have a regular job in a bank.
2. When and how did you start with pole dance?
A Finnish online magazine wrote about Oona Kivelä, who won the World Championships in Rio 2011. Before reading that article, I had no idea that pole dancing was a competitive sport and how impressive it could be. At that time, I was doing my exchange studies in the U.S., but when I returned to Sweden, I immediately signed up for a class.
For Oona Kivelä’s performance from 2011, check it out here.
3. What was your biggest challenge when you started?
I didn’t like any of the floor-based things in the beginning. All I wanted to do was to go upside down and learn all the cool tricks. I knew nothing about flow, pointed toes, or artistic side of pole dancing.
4. How did you become a pole dance instructor?
I trained a lot from the very beginning: I took classes, I had my pole at home, I went to open training, I watched lots of YouTube and got obsessed about pole. I also started traveling and taking private lessons with my pole idols outside of Sweden.
When the advanced pole instructor of North Pole Studio took a break from teaching, I was asked to teach a special workshop at the studio. From then, I just continued teaching. After I started to compete, I started to get requests to teach and perform all around the world, which all came as a big surprise!
5. How long after you started pole dance did you have your first competition?
It was about one year after my first pole class. It’s still one of my best competition memories because I had such so much fun and zero pressure!
6. Who inspired you when you started? And today?
When I started, Oona Kivelä was my big idol, because she was the first pole dancer I saw. Also Heidi Coker inspired me a lot, especially her routine from pole Art 2011. She performed some Chinese pole style acrobatic tricks, which I knew that was exactly what I wanted to learn. My own style came much later. I did a big transformation from being the sporty trixter into a more artistic performer. At some point, it all became less about tricks and more about transitions, flow, and expression. It took a long time to find my own movements and to get comfortable with improvisation.
Today, Yvonne Smink is one of the artists I truly admire. The way she creates and connects with her movement is out of this world. I also love Olga Trifonova – she’s such a creative spirit. I love Slava Ruza and everything he choreographs alone or with Anna Valfsson and it’s such a privilege to have him at North Pole Studio!
7. How does your day look like?
It’s pretty much just office, studio, and sleeping at home. I don’t work full time, so I often eat lunch at the studio, and then spend the rest of the day training, preparing my classes, and teaching. I’m a night owl, so during weekends, I prefer training late, and I’m definitely most creative at night time. Normally I also travel quite a lot for pole and need to squeeze it to my schedule. I don’t have too much free time or social life.
8. How long and how often do you exercise?
I try to rest one day per week but, otherwise, I train or at least prepare my classes every day. Sometimes I do two sessions per day if the second session is something else than pole dance.
My training regime includes pole, Chinese pole, dance, and a bit of beginner level figure skating. My training hours depend on my mood, schedule, and whether I’m preparing for something. I like to warm up, flow on the floor, and slowly get into the right mood. My best sessions are definitely the long ones when I can take my time and don’t need to rush.
9. How do you create your choreographies?
First, I need the concept or the song. I used to be very focused on the technical part, but these days the flow and the feelings are more important for me. Improvisation has become an essential part of my creative process.
I film everything and, usually, I find something interesting from my improvisation that I can re-work and combine, and let it grow into a choreography.
I’m still a trixter in my heart. I always have a couple of impressive tricks or techniques I want to include in my routine, but I spend a lot of time creating original transitions and integrating the technical part with my concept and music. Otherwise, I let the routine come together by experimenting, and I’m not afraid to change things if it doesn’t feel right.
10. How do you choose the music?
It’s so hard, I’m always searching! I prefer songs that aren’t too used – if 500 dancers already performed to it, it’s hard to create something unique. I need to find a special connection with my song, and it needs to give me the feeling I want to share with my audience.
11. A favorite pole trick? A Nemesis trick?
My current favorite is my previous nemesis trick – the reverse meat hook. I think it was over 1,5 years ago when I started learning it and now I finally can hold it! But I’m still learning a clean entrance into it. It’s probably one of the hardest tricks I’ve tried to master.
A trick that I really can’t do, and probably never will, is a basic layback or even worse the layback bridge!
12. When and how did you start with exotic pole dance? What do you like about it?
When I started pole, I was a true pole sports girl. I wasn’t comfortable at all with the idea of combining high heels and pole dance.
Once I visited Oslo, and I saw some girls training in heels. It started from a joke that I should do a showcase in heels (which I did sometime later!). I ordered my first pair of heels, and a whole new world opened for me!
Dancing in heels is really empowering, and it gave me a whole new type of confidence. I actually had no idea that I could dance sexy or that I’d enjoy it! I found a more feminine side of myself wasn’t aware of at all.
13. What do you think about pole dance competitions?
When I started pole, it felt obvious to me that I’d compete! I had this burn inside of me to learn everything possible to learn, and it turned very fast into a desire to perform.
In the beginning, the medals and titles were important for me, but now competitions are more like personal challenges. Preparing for competition makes me push myself always a little extra, and the creative process of putting a routine together is the part I really love (and hate).
I no longer feel too much urge to compete, but sadly, there aren’t many opportunities to perform on beautiful stages and with professional poles outside of pole competitions. I’m completely ready to run away with circus whenever the opportunity comes!
14. How do you feel during competitions?
I suffer from a quite severe case of stage nerves, especially when competing. I actually had a period when I was seriously considering giving up with competing because I really choked in every competition and felt completely heartbroken afterward.
I had knee surgery a few years ago, and after that, something changed because, despite the nerves, I also felt such big gratitude that I was able to dance again.
Now, I’m more into the artistic style of pole dance, and it’s definitely easier with nerves. I’m still very nervous, but the best scenario is to totally go into my performance, once the music starts and just feel it on stage. It doesn’t happen every time, but it’s my ultimate goal.
15. What were the benefits for you of pole dance?
Before pole, I was so awkward and shy! The awkwardness is still there, but pole dance has helped a lot with my insecurities.
Pole has given me a way to express myself in totally different ways. I didn’t even know about the creative side of me before I got into pole dance. Pole has given me quite a lot of muscles and power, but the reason why I keep dancing is that it makes me happy!
16. What is your best advice for people that want to start but feel intimidated by the strength and flexibility required?
That’s why you go to the pole class! The beginners’ classes are for everyone, and you will build strength little by little. And it’s fun – it doesn’t feel like working out! The atmosphere at the studio is really encouraging, and everyone is welcome to the studio!
I think the best thing to do is just sign up and go for it.
Do you want to practice with Anna-Maija Nyman at North Pole Studio? Register for her classes by clicking here. She also has an exciting Exotic class. Check more about her schedule at North Pole studio.
To find out more about Anna-Maija you can look at her website!