Amber Richard – FleurtheFrenchCat
This interview is also published in Pole2Pole Magazine!
Get ready to meet Amber Richard, 2009 USPDF West Coast Champion!
How did you get started taking pole dancing lessons?
I stumbled upon pole dancing completely by accident in March of 2008. I was a dance major in college and, one day, I was randomly looking up dance videos on youtube when Felix Cane’s Miss Pole Dance Australia 2006 video popped up. I clicked on it out of pure curiosity! I have never been to a strip club and had never seen pole dancing before so I didn’t have any preconceptions going in.
What I saw was a work of art, a gorgeous acrobatic dance, and I thought, “Wow! I want to try THAT!”
I immediately looked up a studio in my area and was hooked after my first lesson at OC Pole Fitness. I graduated from UCI and moved back home shortly thereafter and found my current studio, Poletential. I learned the basics from the instructors at both studios but am self-taught in all of the advanced moves.
I am a total YouTube fanatic and spend hours looking at videos and dissecting the movements so I can try them myself!
How did you make the leap to teaching at a studio and offering pole dancing classes? What was that like?
As a dancer, I am very used to breaking movement down into simple steps and figuring out the mechanics of a move. This enabled me to take to pole quite naturally and I was asked about the possibility of training to be an instructor after my second class! I had already been teaching other dance types for years (ballet, jazz, modern, etc.) so teaching was a natural progression for me.
What is the first thing you teach students just starting to take pole?
The first thing I teach students is how to engage their shoulder and back muscles to keep their shoulders down. Proper body mechanics are an absolute must; I don’t want anyone getting injured!
How do you take care of yourself, given all the pole you do?
I always take the time to do a full warm-up and I stretch after class. I try not to pole two days in a row in order to give my muscles and joints time to recover. I love taking a hot bath after a tough workout; it does wonders! Ice is your friend, if you have any kind of inflammation. I also do rotator cuff strengthening exercises daily.
See this great video of Amber on the pole!
Favorite makeup tip:
All you need is mascara, eyeliner, and blush to look fabulous! Blush is underrated, but it really brightens up your face and adds definition.
Barefoot, sneakers, or platform heels?
Barefoot when I want to dance freely and try new moves, heels when I want to feel sexy!
Favorite grip enhancer:
I don’t use grip aids, just rubbing alcohol. I do have a sample of Butterfly Balm that is amazing though!
Pole dance move that made you proudest to learn:
That’s a tough one! I struggled with the cartwheel mount for ages, so I think that one wins. I was also really proud when I got my first shoulder mount because I was overcoming a mental block. The jade split was another I fought with for a while!
Pole dance pet peeves:
Unsafe or inadequate spotting technique. If someone asks you to spot them, take your shoes off and support them at the hip level where most of the weight is concentrated!
Favorite treatment for bruises and sore muscles:
A hot bath with some Epsom salts is really wonderful for sore muscles. I don’t have any treatments for bruises though; I just wear them with pride until my skin toughens up!
Who would you most like to have in the audience when you pole dance?
Jenyne Butterfly, because she always has great constructive criticism! All other pole enthusiasts are welcome, too!
Who is your hero or role model?
In the pole dance world, I would have to say that Felix Cane and Jenyne Butterfly are my idols, though there are many other dancers I also admire. My parents are wonderful role models in “real life.”
What are your favorite words of encouragement?
I always tell my students: you can do the [insert pole move here], you just haven’t done it YET! It’s only a matter of time before you conquer it!
Favorite pizza toppings:
Everything! Pepperoni, cheese, and roasted vegetables, yum!
Cupcakes or ice cream?
Kara’s cupcakes in San Francisco, hands down!
What do you like to do when you’re not pole dancing?
I like to read. I spend way too much time at my computer researching pole-related information. I like to cuddle with my cats and spend time with my family. I’m a total nerd and spend a lot of time studying, too! I look forward to starting graduate school and becoming a Doctor of Physical Therapy. My plan is to develop an injury prevention program designed specifically for pole dancers. (Wa-hoo, Amber!!)
Anything else you’d like to share:
There are so many people who have helped me on this journey. I want to thank my family and friends for being so supportive of me. I want to thank the Poletential team for believing in me and helping me in every way, especially Ellen for all the feedback she gave me prior to the USPDF competition.
I want to thank Karol Helms for commenting on every video I ever posted and giving me feedback to help me improve. I want to thank the Studio Veena team and community for all their encouragement and support. I want to thank Jenyne Butterfly for inspiring me to be the best I can be.
I am happy to have met so many positive people who are willing to help each other achieve their goals and I look forward to more collaboration with many talented individuals in this growing industry. We are all unique, with our own personal strengths, and I respect every dancer out there! I hope to see many of you in New York City on March 19th, 2010 for the U.S. Pole Dance Federation National Championship, it’s going to be an amazing show!
You can also find AMC Photography online.