JUDGING & WORKSHOPS
Anastasia Skukhtorova has been an innovative leader and bright star in the pole industry since her debut on the international competition stage in 2009. Today, there is hardly a pole dancer that doesn’t recognize her name, or draw some inspiration from her performance style. Over the past decade, Anastasia has impressed audiences all over the world with routines showcasing her signature flexibility and graceful movement, often set to classical music.
However, one of the most beloved and impressive qualities about Anastasia is her determination to achieve whatever she sets her mind to. Many have heard that Anastasia has no background in dance, gymnastics, or any other sport – and yet she won her first national competition after only 11 months of pole training, and rose to international stardom in under 3 years. She says she believes anyone can achieve their goals, however unattainable they might seem, if they too believe in themselves.
Anastasia’s pole journey started like so many others’ – with a desire to take dance classes that focused on feeling feminine and elegant. Growing up in Moscow, she always dreamed of being a dancer; she loved movement but had no classical training. At the age of 18, after watching American movies like Step Up and Honey, she was inspired to take her first pole class at a studio in Moscow (Studio “Cindy”) on December 9, 2008. At the time, almost all classes at Cindy were taught in heels.
Anastasia was instantly hooked and started preparing for her first competition the following year. In 2009 she competed three times: in April as a beginner-level at Russia’s first ever pole dance competition; in August in the professional division at the Russian Pole Dance & Fitness Championships in St. Petersburg; and in November at the qualifier for the upcoming World Pole Dance Championship. Anastasia won her qualifier, earning her a chance to compete at the World Championship in Zurich.
The World Championship took place in October 2010, with only 13 dancers worldwide who had been accepted as finalists into Anastasia’s category (including the incredible Felix Cane, Alethea Austin, Jenyne Butterfly, and Zoraya Judd). Anastasia counts this experience as one of the most important competitions of her career, largely because of the opportunity to meet, perform alongside, and be inspired by these dancers whom she respected and admired so much.
The following year, Anastasia competed at the Pole Art competition in Helsinki, where she placed 3rd in her category. The video from her 2011 Pole Art performance, with over 4 million views on YouTube, helped launch Anastasia into super-stardom. Following this performance, she was immediately offered teaching contracts abroad, and decided to make pole dance her full-time professional career. And finally in November 2012, Anastasia won her first international title at the Pole World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she placed 1st in the professional division!
After achieving international fame, Anastasia fully immersed herself in the world of pole dance as a profession. She travelled the globe teaching workshops, judging competitions, and occasionally competing and performing. In 2014-2015, Anastasia toured with the company “Cirque le Noir – the Dark Side of Cirque” as a guest artist. Today, she continues to lead the pole industry, inspiring her students and audiences with her captivating pole style. Anastasia is now based in Denmark, but still tours the world to teach and perform, and is always trying to find something new to explore.
Most recently, she competed in the 2018 season of “Denmark’s Got Talent.” She says her goal was not to win, but to show new audiences how beautiful pole dance can be. She attributes her success to a combination of training programs, circus artists and pole coaches who have helped her along the way, and the desire to do something “different.” For example, when Anastasia started competing, she was one of the only dancers to perform barefoot or to perform to opera / orchestral music. She encourages her students to focus on what makes them unique in order to develop as artists.
Anastasia’s true love is performance for the pure joy of dancing. She has turned to exotic dance in more recent years as her “pole therapy,” which she does for her heart; to feel beautiful, confident, and feminine. Anastasia says that after coming home from a day of conquering difficult pole tricks, you can conquer anything else life throws at you. She has this advice for aspiring pole dancers: “Celebrate every achievement … no matter how small … and don’t forget why you started pole dance in the first place … believe in yourself, believe in something and you can achieve it”. Anastasia continues to be a world leader in the pole industry, and plans to keep dancing until she’s (at least) 90. The world can’t wait to see what she does next!