In the five years that she’s been a pole dancer, 28-year-old Roksolana Chubenko from Ukraine has figured out that her profession comes with multiple benefits. For one, she was able to make a career out of her hobby. She also uses her profession to make women feel confident about themselves and their bodies. Now, having trained Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez, her career is moving forward fast.
Chubenko says pole dancing is a form of dance like any other, and not something limited to strip clubs. She got into pole dancing in 2012. “It was in 2012 that I saw Natalia Tatarintseva, a famous pole dancer, on You Tube. She inspired me to take a class. Since then, there was no stopping me,” she said. Formerly an exponent of the ballroom dancing style, Chubenko says she prefers pole dancing as it does not require a partner.
Apart from pole dancing, Roxy, as she is known, is also a makeup artist. After a year and a half of pole dancing classes, she moved to Milan to work as a makeup artist and then stumbled upon the chance to hone her skills in Milan. “I flew to Milan and took classes there for a while and then came back to Ukraine.” She has also won a national pole dancing competition in Ukraine.
Then, she says, she thought of opening a restaurant and decided to take a job in the hospitality sector in Dubai. “While I was working in Dubai, actress Jacqueline Fernandez was looking for a pole dancing instructor to train her for her upcoming movie. She found me and I got an opportunity to come to Mumbai and train her,” Chubenko said.
She says pole dancing requires strength and practice, and is a dance form that requires practitioners to condition their bodies with push-ups, pull-ups, squats and other muscle work. “Also, if a person is into yoga or any other workout activity, it makes it easier for them. If not, it can be difficult and can take time to learn. But, if you work hard, you will get it,” Chubenko says, adding that the initial practice sessions doubtless come with muscle soreness and bruises from the pole. Because it requires tremendous physical strength, pole dancing is also a dance form that connects people to their bodies, she says. “My intention behind teaching pole dancing it to encourage girls to believe in themselves and become confident about themselves and their bodies, and not be shy.”
Chubenko, who now offers classes to those interested in pole dancing, says students often ask whether it takes long to learn. “I used to practise for a few hours initially. A person needs to have the hunger to learn. There is lot to learn in pole dancing, it is a never-ending process,” she says, adding that a basic pole dancing course could be about a month, if students practise two to three days a week.
Chubenko now has 10 to 15 students, including Jacqueline, and she teaches at her residence in Pali Hill, Bandra, charging upwards of Rs 1,500 for a class. She has plans to open a studio and explore connected fields, such as yoga and flexibility.
On how pole dancing is viewed in India, Chubenko says the common misconception is that it’s a dance form for strip clubs and bars. “There is no pole dancing culture here, but it exists all over the world. There are national and international events all over the world, except in India. I think me and Jacqueline are on a mission to help Indians understand it as a form of dance,” she said.