[ | Village Voice | ]

“When I started pole, I realized nobody judges,” Cruea says. “It’s amazing.”

Shaina Cruea is the 2014 U.S. National Pole Dance Champion, known for combining her signature contemporary dance style with the beauty of fluid strength and grace. But she wasn’t always so confident.

She still gets emotional when reflecting on her winning the competition. “It felt crazy to get off the stage and be like, I literally left that piece of me on the stage,” she says. “It felt amazing.”

A full-time instructor at Body & Pole (115 W 27th Street), a Chelsea pole dance studio, Cruea, 32, was a contemporary dancer with over 20 years of training. After college, she moved between cities in pursuit of a traditional dance career but didn’t find the right opportunity. In 2010, she took a class at Body & Pole after doing a random Google search, which later led to her career as a professional pole dancer.

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