Updated: Jun 5, 2021
Dancer, Teacher, Studio Owner, Danielle Giannantonio, talks to us about her passion, and what drew her to pole dance.
Danielle is a wonderful dancer, teacher, and performer. She is the owner of the Los Angeles based pole and aerial dance studio, The Vertitude. I am lucky enough to know her. I taught at the studio before Covid changed things. She is a wonderful person and a great boss. I wanted to spotlight someone that could offer some insight into the world of pole dancing and I couldn't think of anyone better. Covid has effected her business just like it has so many studios. if you would like to support a wonderful place of dance, visit the studios GoFundMe page.
" I just do what I do unapologetically"
Sunny Dance: How long have you been dancing ?
Danielle Giannantonio: I've been pole dancing for about 7 and a half years
SD: Did you know any other kinds of dance before you got into pole?
DG: No. I had zero dance background whatsoever. But I was a stripper long before I was a pole dancer, so I was somewhat familiar with sensual movement.
SD: So is that what drew you to training pole?
DG: Partially, yes. I was always impressed with the women in the club who could pole, and it always stayed in the back of my mind, but the real draw came when I started seeing pole competition videos on YouTube. It was so awe inspiring.
SD: That's awesome! What pushed you to take your first pole class?
DG: I had just recently lost 60 lbs. and started getting fit, and accomplishing that brought a new sense of courage I didn't have before... I had wanted to take a pole class for years, and one day I was just brave enough to do it.
SD: That's amazing. Pole is definitely a good way to stay fit.
When in your pole journey did it turn into a passion? Why do you love dance?
DG: I think it was instantly. I just "got it", and I loved it.
I think I love dance because I love music. I love seeing and creating a visual representation of music. And I love pole dancing, additionally, because of how empowering the strength of it is.
SD: I completely agree. Couldn't have said it better.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about pole in the world. What is something you would say to someone that wasn't educated about what it really is? What would you say to enlighten people?
DG: That's a tough one. I just do what I do unapologetically. I try not to waste much time educating people that can't see with their own eyes. I don't feel the need to defend. But I suppose, if I had to say anything, I'd say that pole is whatever you want it to be. If you like the sensual side, do that. If you like the gymnastics side, do that. Do anything in between. The pole is just an apparatus, and you can use it however you like.
"The idea of owning a studio one day was on my mind"
SD: That really is all you can say. People will be open or they won't.
Now you are the owner of The Vertitude! Tell me about how that came to be. What year did you become owner?
DG: Coming to own The Vertitude was crazy and random! I had been subbing classes there for a few months when I got an email from the owner, informing all the instructors that she had been looking for a buyer, and there was a very good chance that the studio was closing. I responded to ask how much she was asking for it, just out of curiosity. The idea of owning a studio one day was on my mind, but absolutely not at the time. When she responded with something I could afford, I was just instantly terrified, because I felt like I needed to jump on this opportunity and just do it. I became the owner in November 2016.
SD: Wow, that's crazy. I'm so glad you did! Personally I think you made it what it is. I love being there. You've created such a wonderful environment.
DG: Thank you!! I really love our Vertie family!!
SD: This is a great lead in to my next question. Tell me about the pole community! From my experience its such a wonderful group of people.
DG: The pole community is one of the most encouraging and welcoming communities I've ever experienced. Pole is hard and it's painful and it can be frustrating... And it's a rather vulnerable experience for a lot of people, so a studio HAS to be a safe space. There's no room for judgement or competition with other people because we're all just trying to hold on and get through the combo without dying. Lol
SD: Haha I completely agree. I've had such a great experience with the community. So supportive.
What do you love about teaching?
DG: I love teaching maybe more than actually poling because of the journey I get to watch my students go on. Pole changed my life completely, and I'm just really excited for everyone else to have that experience, too. There's something amazing about realizing what you're capable of, and pole shows you that.
"I would describe my dancing style as strong and sexy"
SD: Now, I have to ask, since covid how have you been doing? How is it effecting the studio? How are you staying afloat and how can the community help keep The Vertitude strong for when things get back to normal?
DG: Oof! This year has been rough. We've been closed for classes for over ten months now. We have managed to stay afloat with private studio rentals and private lessons. We tried the online classes, but we just didn't see the demand for them. Most people still really want to train in person. So myself and a few instructors have been teaching private lessons pretty regularly this whole time... With Covid safety protocols in place, of course! Some instructors have been donating all their private lesson profits to the studio, and some students have continued to pay their memberships, which has been incredible. We have a GoFundMe that is still up, and has been a great help. And to continue to help us get through this, I'd say to just keep doing what our students have been doing... Donate when you can, rent space, book a private lesson, buy a pole, buy some shoes... Everything helps!
SD: I can understand people wanting to learn in the studio. Especially if they don't have their own pole. That's so great the support you are getting from everyone.
DG: It really is!!
SD: That's what you have created. You built this community and now they are here for you.
SD: I know you are also a performer and competitor. Tell me about the shows and competitions you take part in. You have a residency don't you? How did you get that opportunity?
DG: Yes! I competed for the first time in 2017, about nine months after buying the studio. I went to a competition earlier in the year, as some of our students were competing, and after experiencing it, I felt like I wanted to do it, and more so that I needed to do it so that I could help prepare my students for it. I've now done a total of six competitions, all with Pole Sport Organization. Performing started that same year. My pole mom Leigh Acosta, who's responsible for pretty much everything I have now, asked me to perform with her in a show called Lucha Vavoom. That was my first gig... And it was huge! She was also a member of The Bootleg Bombshells, which invited me to be a guest after she left, and I'm now a member of.
I also perform with Wicked Women and Belle, Book and Candle on occasion.
SD: So many great opportunities! You've done so well in your performing journey.
So for my last question, how would you describe your dancing style? Like your personal style?
DG: I would describe my dancing style as strong and sexy.. I like the juxtaposition of the two. I have said about my performances that I want the audience to be aroused, despite being a little bit scared.
SD: Haha yes!! You definitely have a Gothic sexy style. And your music selections are great!
DG: Thank you!
SD: Do you have any last comments? Anything you'd like to be sure is in this interview that I didn't ask?
DG: I will just add that I'd like more people to take the leap. If pole or aerial or dance is something you're interested in, DO IT. It is literally life changing.
SD: I love it!
Thank you sooooo much. It was so wonderful talk to you. I wish you luck with everything.
Performance Instagram: @bootlegbombshells
Performance Website: https://www.bootlegbombshellsburlesque.com/
Pole Sport Organization (PSO) Competitions
The Verties are truly a family. Danielle's students share their experience.
Danielle has created an inclusive environment for any and all dancers to come and feel welcomed. I came to The Vertitude initially because of the diversity in class offerings (types, times, instructors) but I stayed (going on three years now) because of the family Danielle has created.
Without finding the Vertitude in my life I would be lost. Danielle took me (and all of us) in her second home with all the love and support in her heart. It’s a safe space where confidence, strength, love and friendship is built.
It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to write. I joined the Vertitude because I wanted to get in touch with my feminine side and to feel sexy again. I’ve always been a dancer and I thought it was going to be easy. Well, it wasn’t easy and it gave me a purpose to strive for. Danielle was so supportive and fun. She had to calm me down for being so hard on myself...lol. Over the past couple of years I did get in touch more with my feminine side, I did feel unapologetically sexy, and I gained strength I never had before. Danielle and the Vertitude is the place where you really can be yourself, surround yourself by beautiful supportive people, and set your pace of learning. I’m so proud to be apart of this family and I’m happy to support them as much as I can.
Danielle pours her love into the Vertitude and the students. For the years I've been at the vertitude, I've watched her work with all the students to help pull out thier strengths, achieve their goals, and sometimes just be a listening ear. She has created a community where we can have fun, feel safe, and workout.