Known for her incredible athleticism, entertaining performances, and unique style, Brynn Route is a pole star on the rise. Her captivating performances command attention and bring audiences to their feet, sending her off stage with well-deserved applause. Her capacity for self-expression through pole dancing, paired with her graceful style and flawless tricks won her the title of 2011 Miss Texas Pole Star. With several big events and competitions on the horizon, Brynn’s pole future is looking bright.
How did you get into pole dancing?
Route: I grew up in gymnastics, and even spent a couple of years as a competitive cheerleader, but neither of those things really had the capacity for creative expression that I was seeking. I was looking for something that combined the adrenaline I felt with acrobatics and stunting, but didn't stifle my desire to be artistic or convey emotions while performing. I saw a pole dancing video on YouTube, and it was like a light just went on in my head. I actually began as a "pole cleaner" at a pole fitness studio in Minneapolis. I had gone there to take one class and completely loved it. There was a sign in the studio offering to trade memberships for reception and housekeeping work around the studio, so I took them up on it. I would take four classes a week there, and secretly practice all of the things I had seen the more advanced students doing while I was supposed to be cleaning the pole studio.
What made you want to begin competing?
Route: Though I had always been involved in gymnastics and sports competitions while growing up, I am not inherently a competitive person. But when I heard about Miss Texas Pole Star back in 2009, I decided to give it a try. I figured it would be a great project to focus my training around, as well as an opportunity to meet others within the pole dancing community.
You won the Miss Texas Pole Star (MTPS) competition in September of 2011. Tell us a little about your experience surrounding the event.
Route: Being recognized amongst my peers for something that I work very hard at is a completely profound experience. It’s not something that I went into the competition expecting to have happen, but I wanted to show something that meant a lot to me, and of course I had hopes that it would mean something to someone else too. I spent hours in the Brass Ovaries studio training with Ariel and Lindsey. Literally, we must have heard each other’s songs hundreds of times, and would just sit and watch each other like "no, your hand looks like a claw, no your foot's doing that thing again, yes you should add that instead of this," etc. Natasha opened up her studio to us to practice in whenever there weren't classes happening, so we would spend most of our free time in there running our routines and giving each other constructive criticism.
You will be one of the prestigious judges for the 2012 MTPS Competition. What advice do you have for those competitors?
Route: Get comfortable with your routine and your music, practice it daily if you can, and also practice alternatives for everything that you do in case you can’t do a particular move in the venue. Video yourself doing your routine and try to find the best angles for the tricks that you are showing. If you are doing something amazing with your legs, but don't face the best lines towards the judges then a large part of the experience might be lost to them. Dance for fun as well, at least for a few minutes a night before or after your serious training. I believe it's easier to accommodate for more creativity when you allow your brain a chance to relax from focusing for a little bit every day.
Route: I am practicing for two to four hours a day, as well as taking dance and circus classes. I also teach about 20 hours a week, either pole, circus arts, or children's gymnastics, so I try to incorporate small segments of my routines into my classes. If I am feeling stuck on a certain part of my routine, it helps to watch the way other people interpret those movements.
What do you hope people take away from your performances?
Route: I hope they view it as an artistic expression, and are able to appreciate the athleticism and creativity that goes into pole dancing. I would like for their minds to be more receptive to the idea that pole dancing does not have to be specifically confined to background entertainment, and can hold its own as a type of performance art.
Is there any pole dancer in particular who inspires you?
Route: That is a tough question. I am of course inspired by the "professional polers"- Alethea Austin, Natasha Wang, Felix, Jenyne; as it is incredible to see how they have managed to make their mark by creating their own unique styles in the world of pole dancing. But beyond that, I am duly inspired by my students who take classes. Many of them drive for hours to come to class, and the joy that I see in their faces when they grasp something they had once viewed as unattainable is very inspiring to me.
What’s the most difficult trick you’ve learned – anything that took particularly longer than others to grasp?
Route: The trick that I have been working on the longest would have to be variations of the twisted grip handspring. I have always been a huge fan of handsprings, so that was the first trick I saw that grabbed my attention when I first started pole dancing. I practiced it for months on the pole at my house because the studio I was at wouldn't let its instructors teach it. If it wasn't for my gymnastics background I probably would have fallen on my head about a million times.
What are your pole dancing goals?
Route: I want to be able to help students of all backgrounds feel inspired. Whether someone works as a computer programmer or an exotic dancer, I want them to feel completely comfortable coming to take a class. I don't agree with alienating women who have worked in strip clubs in an attempt to make pole dancing more "fitness friendly." I want to make this activity accessible to all people, and to help it maintain its unique ability to incorporate such an eclectic blend of styles. There's an eroticism, as well as an athleticism, and so many various types of manifestations combined into one sport. One of my goals for pole dancing as an art form is to help preserve its versatility.
Do you have any advice for people just getting into pole fitness?
Route: Be prepared to get a little sexy. And maybe even a little bruised, which is not that sexy for a while.
What songs are in your pole dance playlist right now?
Route: I have a pretty eclectic music taste. I have a "warm-up challenge game" that I play by dancing to whatever random songs come on when I am practicing, just to force myself to try and get out of my comfort zone. My favorite artists to dance to though are Massive Attack, Tricky, Kaskade, Richie Hawtin, Tool, and Nine Inch Nails. I mostly just rotate through those depending on how I am feeling.
What are some items in your purse that you never leave home without?
Route: Lipgloss. Dryhands. You never know when you will walk into a place with a pole these days! Also, usually gum or wrappers for gum. I have an incredible gum chewing habit that is kind of out of control!
Heels or no heels?
Route: It really depends. That's kind of a copout answer, but I genuinely do not have a preference. I have seen beautiful performances in each, and really enjoy performing in both. I usually decide on the heels or no heels question when I figure out what kind of character I am pretending to be in my head. Since pole costumes tend to be pretty bare for the skin gripping factor, I think what you wear on your feet, head, and face becomes much more integral as far as affecting what you’re trying to convey.
Any guilty pleasures?
Route: I have a particularly awful sweet tooth, specifically for things with peppermint in them, and choose to combine caffeine with that. It’s especially apparent when I am working on something creative, like a routine. I can down about ten cups of coffee and just sit up ‘til three in the morning surrounded by candy wrappers and notebooks trying to figure something out.
Visit Brynn Route on Facebook to keep up with her upcoming competitions, workshops, and appearances. If you would like to make a donation towards her Las Vegas trip to compete in the National Aerial Pole Art Championship, go to Brass Ovaries online. We wish Brynn the best of pole luck in 2012.