Celebrating Strong Women in Singapore: Gabriela Riestra–Dr. Jenny Li introduces us to Gabriela Riestra, a Pole Dance instructor from Mexico who wants Singaporeans to know that Pole Dancing can be a great workout and is not limited to seedy bars anymore.
Tell us little bit about yourself
My name is Gabriela Riestra, born in Mexico City and been in Singapore since September 2008.
My coming to Singapore like most of foreigners was due to work reasons. My husband found a business opportunity that brought him here, thus I followed him six months later.
What challenges have you faced while working in Singapore?
My case is a very fortunate I must say. I joined one of the pioneer Pole Dance studios in Singapore, Acropolates, in 2011 as a student. I fell in love with this sport and thankfully the studio embraced me as part of a very tight family so I evolved from student to Performer and more recently to Instructor.
The biggest challenge I probably could mention I face in my job as Instructor, and on occasions as Performer, is the misconception of our sport. It is still to many eyes, a dirty way of dance or merely stripping – which it is not.
How do you overcome those challenges?
Lots of patience and education. When somebody asks what I do for living, my answer is, “I’m a dance instructor.”
Some brave ones dig dipper and ask what kind of dance. That’s when I see the shocked faces when I say Pole Dancing. Most of times I hear, “Oh, ok!” then a cold silence. Hahaha!
Then comes the elaborate talk to explain that Pole Dance is no longer just walking and acting sexy around a pole. It is more like acrobatics and gymnastics on the pole.
I probably should just leave it there – Why bother right? – But I love my job. This is my passion so I love sharing with others what it means to be a pole dancer and hopefully this helps changing the view of it.
The bright side is that I also encounter many supporters who immediately pay their admiration for the strength and flexibly that this sport nowadays requires.
“Wah, very hard lah! Six packs! Very strong! Lot of arm muscles… Good!” – Hahaha! I love these responses!
What did you learn from your experience working abroad?
I’ve worked in many countries before Singapore in different fields like Hotel Marketing, Finance, and now in a very different area. But the common denominator will always be the misconception of whatever you do. You may have to defend your job with shields and swords but you will only succeed if you love what you do. When you don’t call it a job anymore but your passion.
That’s how I feel about Pole Dance and Aerial arts, I love it and will always be a fervent advocate of this sport.