Student Spotlight, featuring Karen K

Hailing from Ireland, our beloved student, performer, pole dance competitor and entertainer, Karen Kiely is a auburn haired, freckled, doe eyed beauty who has been poling with us at San Francisco Pole & Dance for just over one year. We got a chance to sit down with Karen to talk with her about her pole journey and learn more about her world outside of the studio. Read on to learn more about this fascinating, daring, and beautiful woman, Karen Kiely.

San Francisco Pole & Dance: Karen, tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to San Francisco?

KK: Well, I’m from Ireland and moved to San Francisco about 7 years ago. Growing up I was always really enamored by California, the counter-culture of it and how it is an epicenter of so much of the entertainment industry. In school, my degree was in Computer Science and Humanities so when it came to deciding where to move in California, San Francisco was the natural decision since my background is in tech. I came with a friend who already had roots here and that made the transition much easier.

San Francisco Pole & Dance: What is something that you love about your job?

KK: I love working in a growing startup. Our CEO is a visionary who inspires me to do great work and we get a lot of leeway to imagine the world as it should be which helps spark my creativity in and outside of the office. We also have pretty awesome perks including an in house barista. Most importantly, I love the people I work with.

San Francisco Pole & Dance: What did you do for fitness before you started pole dancing?

KK: When I first moved here, I was really into group classes – step aerobics and the like and running! I ran races all over the Bay Area and even travelled for the Chicago Marathon. I discovered pole dancing right when I got transferred to Australia for my job. Back then, there were only series classes available so I started my aerial journey with silks and then tried pole for the first time after that. When I moved back to San Francisco, I wanted to keep it up and I enrolled in a 5 week series with Carlie, an instructor at San Francisco Pole & Dance.

San Francisco Pole & Dance: What do you do outside of the studio, in your non-pole life?

KK: I like to be in nature. I take my dog, Luna, on all kinds of hikes around San Francisco and sometimes take her on road trips if I’m travelling too. Recently we road tripped up the coast from LA, camping along the way.

San Francisco Pole & Dance: What made you fall in love with pole dancing?

KK: The performance aspect really pulled me in. In the 5 week series I did with Carlie just over a year ago, we worked on polishing and perfecting movements and that helped me to think about how to perform my art instead of just treating tricks like a checklist to be worked through. In performance, there is the additional – stressful but helpful – push to really know the routine because you know other people are depending on you! This motivated me to get into the studio outside of class time and helped me level up my inner performer. It was then, while practicing in our sparkly red hot pants costume, that I realized that all these impossible moves I couldn’t do before, I was starting to get! Go figure, the practice really works but it does require patience.

Since that first student showcase, I’ve competed in two different pole competitions, doing character driven pieces. I have a third one coming up soon – Nationals in Los Angeles in just one week. It is a nod to one of my favorite movies growing up, “Back to the Future”!

San Francisco Pole & Dance: Well, we’re not going to say ‘good luck’ but instead, as we say in pole, Break a Stiletto, Karen! And good luck to all our Nationals, and NCPP competitors over the next month! Thank you for chatting with us!