Interview with Marisa Oka, Owner of Spinderella Studios
Dance was never in my blood. I was not born into a family that danced or did anything musical. At most, I had an aunt on my father’s side who was an actress in India. When I was in high school, I was curious so I took dance classes for a credit or two, but it never stuck. Most likely it was because I did not see the teacher as passionate nor did I see a connection to me or any of the other students that made me think twice about it. So at the time, although I have always admired the art of dance, I never felt the urge to pursue anything related to it. But I loved music – the subtle nuances of the notes, the pitch in which it is delivered, and the way words in the song can grab your soul and push out the movement through my body.
It was not until I discovered pole dancing that I finally understood the passion of dance and what it was like to have your body give in, embrace, and project the music through my own movement. I only discovered this gift in the last nine years of my life. I was first introduced to pole dancing after a friend found us a studio in Seattle and since then, it has been a journey of many discoveries. I learned how to love my body through every size and how to forgive myself on days when I seem to need it the most. I learned to embrace my sense of humor and the humor in others. And of course – music! All kinds of music! I listen without pre-conceived ideas. I define strength in so many different ways.
Even today, I am learning to be more patient with myself. Some days are better than others. On the whole, I am the everyday woman. I stress about my family, my kids, my friends, my health, but I found a passion that provides me with the energy to make all of it work. I am the sum of all these parts and I grateful for the madness of it all.
My studio was started in my very own backyard in 2008. I operated quietly and relied mostly on word of mouth. Business was steady, but sharing the benefits of pole dance and fitness has always been a challenge due to the social stigma that comes with it. It was not always easy to tell people what I do without the “giggle” or the shift in energy in their response. These days, I am entertained by it. My drive to stand by what I do comes from seeing how much love and sacrifice my husband, family, and friends have given me through it all. Their love and support of me never waivers. There were days when I have come home tired, beat up, bruised and sometimes wondering if I am headed in the right direction, even though I knew in my heart that I have always loved the art of pole and everything it has given me.
I have met some amazing women through pole – strong, beautiful, and complete. And with them, we have struggled together to build this beautiful work of art. We have collaborated, sacrificed, and the work still continues. But what has made the journey worth it was constantly being in the presence of passionate students, who return each week to learn from us and, in turn, teach us. Although I am an instructor, there are still many moments where I still am the student. The journey is a bit uphill at this point because we are growing yet again. I am surrounded by the support of my husband, the love of my kids, the strength of my friends and the studio grows. How can I be anything less than grateful. I find myself a humble servant of this industry and it is my goal to spread the joy and enrichment of pole dance and fitness to other women just as it has done for me. It is my goal to name every woman that came into my life that makes my life amazing. It is a long list.
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