"I realized I was stronger. I realized life was full of possibilities, if I was willing to do the work. I also realized the importance of being present, here and now."
For this month's feature, we are graced by a multi-talented artist, Christina Dy or CD - as most people call her. CD is the founder and creative director of Polecats Manila, the first official pole dancing school in in the Philippines. They were at the forefront when it comes to popularizing and promoting pole dancing as a fitness alternative since 2009. So thanks to them pole dancing is no longer taboo and has become widely accepted as a sport. CD is also a visual and performance artist, and a breast cancer survivor. And this is why this month of October is extra special. Not only is CD our our Movement Ambassador for this month, but we've also collaborated for an exclusively designed sports bra set for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Check out her story below and be inspired by her discovery of pole dancing, surviving breast cancer and her message for all of us.
1. How did you discover pole dancing and what made you decide to start your own school?
My friend took me to a pole class to comfort me after my fiance ended our engagement. It was fun! But as it was the early days of pole dancing as a fitness class, people didn’t really know how to teach it. I got injured a lot. I believed there was a more informed, organized, and progressive way of teaching pole, so Polecats Manila was born.
2. What were the challenges you faced at the beginning and what do you think are the factors that contributed to Polecats’ success today?
The most challenging thing was also the most exciting thing— no one really knew how to put up a pole studio haha! So we kept trying out ideas. A lot worked, some didn’t, we keep learning along the way. Polecats is what it is today because of all our company members, our faculty, our staff, our students, our families and friends. It’s really a team effort.
3. Can you share with us your journey on surviving breast cancer? What were your realizations/learning going through it?
I saw an ICanServe ad for breast self-exam, I did the BSE, found a lump. Mammogram and ultrasound and biopsy confirmed it was cancerous. I found out on a Tuesday, December 4, right before I taught a pole class. The following week, on Dec 11, I had a lumpectomy.
The moments, days, and months after the surgery were some of the toughest I’ve ever had to face— I couldn’t dance, I had no energy to draw, I couldn’t even lift my arm, I had scars, I felt useless and unattractive.
But those were also some of the best months. I’ve always known people were kind, but the amount of generosity shown to me in all sorts of ways was just humbling.
I realized I was stronger. I realized life was full of possibilities, if I was willing to do the work. I also realized the importance of being present, here and now.
4. Who or what’s your “go-to” when things aren’t going the way they’re supposed to?
My go-to — sugar, caffeine or alcohol, escape. HAHAHA! I throw an internal tantrum. When I’m over being a privileged brat, then I just hunker down and do what needs to be done. Therapy would probably do me good haha. I recently started using the Waking Up app (a meditation app, but it’s so much more than that). I start the day with some David Whyte poetry or some stoic meditation— it’s helped center me a lot.
5. How would you describe CD then and now? What changed and what stayed?
Pre-cancer and pre-pandemic, I was always doing something. They were all fun stuff, I enjoyed them all, did so many things for other people and myself, but I neglected my family, so I am working on that. The sense of curiosity and wonder stayed, but I am now much slower and more deliberate with the use of my time.
6. What plans have you lined up for yourself personally and professionally?
I never have plans, beyond maybe the next couple of months. Haha. Now I’m just trying to learn different things for fun, and then let’s see.
7. Can you share your idea behind the sports bra set that you have designed for Pure Movement Lab?
Every check up with my oncologist raises the question of: what bra do I wear?
I want something easy to take off, and easy to put back on; something comfortable; but also something pretty enough to wear on its own, and with enough support to dance in. And so this design was born.
- This bra has a zip front, for easy boob access— no need to take the bra off! And it’s easy to zip up.
- It has slots for bra pads or prosthesis.
- There’s a hook and eye at the top to keep the bra secure in case the zipper slides down.
- There’s a lining behind the zipper to keep the zipper from chafing the skin.
- The bra straps are thick, for comfort. They’re also adjustable from the front, for easy reach and so that there’s no discomfort when lying down on your back.
- There’s no tight garter under the boob, to keep the bra comfy.
- The matching shrug is for dancing (or for outerwear, why not?)— one shoulder is covered for all those shoulderstands and rolls, one arm is left bare for armpit grip.
Yes, this is everything I want in a bra and shrug set.
Each Sports Bra set comes with a hand-painted butterfly wing by CD herself. We asked what is the meaning of butterflies and this is her answer:
Butterflies symbolize new beginnings for me. I felt this so much after cancer-- there's no going back to way things were before, but instead, by going through this struggle, there is a becoming, a journey towards something new. To say thank you, I am including a tiny butterfly wing with each purchase.
8. What message would you like to share with everyone reading this?
Check your boobs!
The Pure Movement Lab x Christina Dy Sports Bra Set will be available for pre-order starting Monday, October 4, and will become widely available on October 9. 50% of the proceeds will go to ICANSERVE Foundation, an organization that promotes early breast cancer detection and provides help to women with breast cancer. Find out more about ICANSERVE by visiting www.icanservefoundation.org
For more info pole & aerial classes, please visit www.polecatsmanila.com