Tempe pole dancing studio challenges stereotypes, empowers women

During a time of illness and despair, a woman rediscovered her confidence through dance and went on to found a studio in Tempe that's breaking down the negative connotations some associate with pole dancing to empower women and build self-confidence.

Express MiE is an all-women’s pole dancing studio with locations in Tempe and Queen Creek, founded by Christie Kerner, an ASU alumna.

“It’s not what people think when people hear pole dancing,” Kerner said. “They expect pole dancing to be about entertaining an audience, but in the studio it’s about dancing in a way that’s elegantly sexy and makes you feel awesome, and if someone else gets to watch, lucky them.”

Despite the positive nature of Express MiE, Kerner said it was born from a tragic past.

Kerner said she began dancing to improve her fitness after she discovered she had a brain tumor that affected her metabolism, causing her to rapidly gain weight.

Kerner said she explored dance in its many forms for several years, and after some hesitance, ventured into pole dancing and loved the confidence it gave her.

“Feeling confident and beautiful from the inside out can really affect the way you approach your life,” she said.

Kerner moved to Arizona where she began Express MiE to give women the same self-confidence and sense of support that she found through dance.

“I don’t think I can put into words how much it has meant to me to help other women feel better about themselves and their lives,” she said. “The journey of life has a lot of chaos in it ... and strangely enough, through pole dancing, women have really been able to have confidence in themselves.”

According to Express MiE's website, most women experience apprehension before taking a pole dancing class, but many come to really enjoy it once they build up the nerve to try it.

Kerner said she’s heard testimonies from many women, old and young, about how empowering they’ve found the pole dancing classes.

Current participant Ashley Crane said she’s really enjoyed the tight-knit community at the studio.

“It's been one of my favorite things that I've done,” she said. “I love doing all the tricks.”

New owner Laura Czarzasty recently acquired Express MiE and has continued to promote the atmosphere of female support and empowerment.

“The studio really comes from a place of acceptance and empowerment,” she said.

Czarzasty began taking classes with Express MiE in 2009, she said they’ve been growing her confidence ever since.

“The environment is really cool,” she said. “It’s kind of an all girls place, and you really bond with the girls you meet and get supported by other women.”


Reach the reporter at icastil3@asu.edu or follow @isabella_m_cast on Twitter

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