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By on May 24, 2013
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Muriel D’ Aragon boldly brought Pole to her High School, and well, why not?

by Emilee Wilson  Photography by David D’Angelo

While most high school juniors are focused on getting a drivers license, Muriel DeAragon is concerned with improving her flexibility, so she can perform on the pole in her high school talent show. Sixteen-year-old DeAragon has been practicing pole fitness for nearly two years. Her first glimpse into the world of pole was when she arrived at her stretching class. She stretches with the famous bending brothers, Emil and Mario Valentino, known simply as the Valentino brothers. DeAragon says, “One day I walked into class and there were poles up in the studio.It was love at first climb.”She admits to bruising badly in the beginning, but growing up jumping horses helped her maintain a sense of resilience. Once a fledgling ballerina, she has also learned to be disciplined. And being a former varsity cheerleader, undoubtedly shows her passion for gymnastics and school spirit.

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You may be asking yourself, “When and where does a sixteen year old get the chance to pole dance?” Well, DeAragon was so adamant about the dance being an athletic endeavor, she chose the vertical apparatus for her independent physical education class. She approached the principal and asked if she could pole dance every afternoon for credit. Imagine an uneasy principal asking his student, “Do you wear heels when you do this?” She confidently responded that it is a form of gymnastics. DeAragon also has no desire to wear stilettos. At sixteen, she doesn’t think it is appropriate and prefers to dance barefoot while sporting a simple ponytail. DeAragon says that after her principal approved her, she was then required to supply fifteen pages of her personal goals, a schedule of hours and an insurance policy. As part of the agreement for her curriculum, she is required to provide a weekly log of her trials and tribulations. Currently, she averages an hour and a half every day on the pole; seven of those hours are required per week to pass the P.E class.

A resident of Santa Barbara, DeAragon is the first female to get pole fitness approved at Santa Barbara High School, an institution that takes athletics very seriously. The school has a reputation for churning out state soccer champions, high-ranking water polo teams, and an undefeated tennis team. She is allowed to leave two classes early and practice pole at home. Muriel is among the brave young women who discovered pole purely as a form of fitness and will defend it as such. She has since found other performers like the captivating Felix Cane, whom she respects as an artist. She aspires to someday dance with the same elegance. The uncomfortable act of approaching a male authority figure, well into his fifties, for permission to dance on a pole for school credit, is truly an example of the end of one world and the beginning of another, an era that will teach high school girls about the benefits of pole fitness instead of hiding in shame from the aged stripping stigma.

Both, her mother and father support her new found athletic endeavor. Her father enjoys staying up to date with her new moves and her mother admits that she partakes occasionally. “It is also a great thing for younger generations to be exposed to,” her mother mentioned. DeAragon’s biggest fan is her cat, Fonzi, who watches her climb to the top every afternoon. The pole, by the way, has evolved from her backyard near the spa. to the living room, and finally to her parents room which has vaulted ceilings. It is here where she is most comfortable and it is a safe place to practice.
DeAragon’s high school sweetheart thinks she is doing the right thing by doing what she loves. He knows how much it means to her and supports her every move. Her male colleagues, on the other hand, give her a hard time, but she explains that there is no grinding and she enjoys exercising. She has become more popular at school because she talks amongst her peers about her vertical studies, perhaps her girlfriends will follow suit in the near future. DeAragon still stretches three times a week and pole dances for an hour and a half every day. She hopes to get stronger and compete in the future. She is optimistic that pole will become part of the stretching class one day at school, but she knows that this will only happen in time and of course until mainstream America accepts it.
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