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From Burlesque to Pole, JMK Dance Studio Reimagines Fitness

By Marina I. Jokic

Jennifer Kennedy has had a longstanding love affair with dance performance. Cabaret, jazz, salsa, and pole dancing are close to her heart and at the center of her professional life.

The director and founder of JMK Dance Studio, Kennedy was born in Derby, England of a Caribbean background and moved to the United States in 1976. Always a dance aficionado, she was drawn to the performing arts from an early age, eventually becoming a professional dance instructor. With a teaching career spanning over 30 years, Kennedy is a seasoned dance professional who has also established her own cabaret troupe.

In addition to being a dancer, Kennedy graduated with a degree in radio and television production in 2009. She enjoyed learning how to produce an entertaining program on the screen, similar in many ways to putting on a thrilling dance performance in her studio.

"Dance is a fun and effective way for [everyone] to get in shape," she said. "The variety of styles and music helps our students to try [out] something different and [to] never get bored."

In addition to its signature pole dancing class, JMK's lineup of classes includes chair dancing, Polates (a blend of Pilates and pole), burlesque, and belly dancing, which round out the curriculum quite well. The studio is also the venue of choice for bachelorette parties and ladies' night out events. JMK Studio is very welcoming to novices and encourages people to sign up for their basic pole class.

"Fake it until you make it," Kennedy said. "Our instructors and students range from trained dancers to new dancers."

The close-knit community of students at JMK has been instrumental in shaping the studio's friendly and nurturing vibe, and attracting a dedicated following. The basic pole class begins with developing upper body and core strength, which are essential for pole dancing. Kennedy advises to stay in the basic program for at least three to six months before progressing to the next level, but of course your progress also depends on your strength, athleticism, and consistency. Women feel empowered through their trainings, and also enjoy the advantages of being more fit.

After you've completed the basic training in pole, you can enroll in their Pole 101 class, a preparatory training before attempting the intermediate level. As the in-between class, Pole 101 will teach you spins, climbs, and transitions until you are ready for more challenging movements and techniques. Intermediate Pole, in turn, guides students through body conditioning, more advanced pole spins and climbs while still grounded in fundamental movements.

If you feel out of your element in the more advanced class, Kennedy recommends going back to basics which will help instill more confidence and poise in your abilities. At the end of the day, Kennedy's studio exists to help women of all backgrounds, shapes, and sizes feel strong and beautiful through various forms of dance.

"We specialize in helping women feel sexy and confident while achieving their fitness [and] self-esteem goals," Kennedy said.

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