Sarah Murray wants to share the word about something near and dear to heart: pole dancing. And in the process, she wants to raise money for a worthy cause. Murray, who owns Impulse Studio, hopes her event Saturday, Pole for a Purpose, will do both. “It helps for people to see the type of pole dancing were doing and it takes it out of the club environment,” said Murray, a 28-year-old Tampa native. “We want people to see the performance side of it. It's challenging and empowering for women to get up there and put on a great show. It's not a seedy thing to do.” The third annual event, held at The Ritz Ybor, will feature more than 50 performers — women and men — of all ages and sizes performing in solo and group-choreographed routines, all benefitting CASA, a domestic violence center in St. Petersburg. This event is for audiences age 18 and older.
The event also will include special performances by Natasha Wang, 2011 U.S. Pole Dance Champion, who also will teach a pole dancing workshop, and Sara Jade, owner of Buttercup Pole Dance and winner of “Most Athletic” in the 2012 and 2013 Florida Pole Fitness Championships. Murray has been dancing since a young age, ballet and classical forms, and taught dance to children. A few years ago, she decided to try a new dance fitness technique and discovered pole dancing. “My arms were killing me and I was exhausted,” Murray recalls of her first pole dance class. “But pole dancing opened up another world to me. It was more accepting; it wasn't rigid or structured, and it was a lot more freeing.” She became an instructor, then decided to step out on her own and open a studio. She now has two locations in St. Petersburg and Brandon. Pole dancing provides an intense cardiovascular and strength-building workout that gives women a newfound confidence. “Anyone can pole dance,” said Murray. “(At this event) you're going to see regular women on stage, moms, students and instructors. This is a great work out for women of all ages and it builds confidence and strength, and its a lot of fun.” Kelly Gilbert, the event's manager, agrees. “People have begun to see (pole dancing) as an art form, as a sport, and the athletic side of it,” she said. “Women who perform it feel empowered and confident.” But getting to the point where students can stay on the pole, spin, climb, hang upside down and perform pole acrobatics takes some time, Murray said. She said people interested in pole dancing should take a class and stick to it. Studios offer classes in varying skill levels, so students can choose what is best suited to them. During Saturday's event, spectators will be treated to a variety of performances by students and teachers from all over Florida. Dancers ranging in age from their 20s to 50s will perform in solo routines, duos and groups. One performance will include 14 ladies dancing on three poles. “You're going to see some great tricks (at the show),” she added. “But it is a professionally done event that will change people's minds about pole dancing, and it's for a very good cause.”
POLE FOR A PURPOSE
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Ritz Ybor, 1503 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa
Tickets: $30 to $65; (813) 325-1990 and www.poleforapurpose.com; for ages 18 and older
Other info: Nathasha Wang will teach technique and signature trick workshops at 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, respectively; both classes will be held at Impulse Studios, 6037 Winthrop Commerce Ave., Suite 225, Brandon; to register, call (813) 325-1990 or go to www.poleforapurpose.com