Lyndi Cochran, aka Bendy Lyndi, started pole dancing at 16 years old. After 8 years of competitive dancing, it was her Mom who convinced her to try it out.
She instantly fell in love with this new form of expression, later focusing on projects to educate others about pole dancing, teaching her signature Melty Movements class at Brass Ovaries and even became a certified pole judge. We talked with Lyndi to learn about the sides of pole dancing that aren’t always apparent at first glance.
What led you to pole dancing?
My Mom wanted to try it. She finally found somewhere ten minutes from our house but she didn’t want to go by herself, so I went with her. From the first class I knew 100% that this is what I wanted to do. It was all her, shout out to my Mom! It was exhilarating. I just felt so happy and I couldn’t remember the last time I was that happy.
How is pole dancing different than other forms of dance you had studied before?
My instructor said it best when I interviewed her for my documentary: You’re literally fighting with a steel object while you’re dancing. That pressure you feel and pain from it is intense. It’s unlike anything you would do in just a floor routine. There’s that extra element of testing your pain tolerance.
Is it more like an art form or sport? (or both)
It’s definitely a combination of the two. The best pole routine is one that comes from the heart. It’s really all about style. Some people prefer dynamic moves, or have a gymnastic background. But there’s also low flow, where you don’t go up very high and there’s even poling in socks.
In the competitions I judge at there are two categories, artistic and sport. For the sport category you have to declare ten moves in the order they will be done and you’re judged on hitting minimum requirements for those moves in addition to style. When I used to judge, the art division has no limits except for song link. Props are also encouraged. I think they tend to tell more of a story.
For my personal poling, I choose move how the music tells me to.
Is educating people about pole dancing just a part of the process?
It’s different for everyone. There are people like my Mom, who felt like she needed to say this is a legitimate form of exercise every time she shared a photo or video to justify it for other people. That’s certainly something that I have dedicated my life to. I created a blog in college about pole dancing and made two documentaries.
But the reality of it is that so many people don’t see it as anything more than stripping, because they haven’t been exposed to it. I can’t blame them but it is frustrating when you have amazing examples online of these artists and athletes and insanely talented dancers, movers and polers.
Have you felt insecure about sharing this side of yourself before?
It’s not the first thing that I introduce about myself because I feel that people need to earn knowing that side of me. If they are not dope they don’t deserve to know how dope I am. But it’s not anything I shy away from.
I’ve had so many questions. I started teaching pole while in high school. I have fought all of the fights, I’ve had all of the arguments. There was one person that at the beginning of school each day he would ask me, like clockwork, “how was your stripper class last night?” It made me so frustrated but after about three weeks I would just say, “it was good.”
No shade on stripping at all. Paved the way for pole dancing. So anytime someone calls me a stripper I am flattered that they think I can do that. That’s a hard job and those women earn their money.
Musicality is an important part for your performance.
Definitely. It sometimes takes me 30 minutes to an hour to pick the right song. I like to pick music that I know well so that I can incorporate slow or staccato movements.
I like to give myself prompts for different routines. Sometimes I try to find slowest song I can think of, and dance as slow as possible, like one 8 count for every motion. It’s so hard, to perform simple moves and to make them captivating. I always strive to do that.
Do you think your art form needs to be seen in order to be real?
Yes. I film every single thing I do on pole. I don’t have a giant mirror in house so I watch the videos to make improvements and break down the video so I figure out how I did that move.
But I also film because I want to share it. Instagram is saturated with pole dancers, but it’s an amazing, supportive and inclusive community. It bonds everyone that does it. It’s such a beautiful community filled with really wonderful people.
Can everyone who takes their first pole dancing class expect to feel supported and included?
If they come into Brass Ovaries, 100%. We’ve all been there, taken our first class. We know how nerve racking it is. It’s so out of your comfort zone, you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know what to wear. (Do not put lotion on by the way.) If it’s someone’s first class, it’s our responsibility to be there for them because this isn’t always easy. So many people take years wanting to do it before they try.
It’s cool to walk into the studio and not feel cattiness or nervous. All these people are into what I’m into. It’s a lot of empathy. Everyone is welcome. Pole is for everyone.
Even men take the class right?
The second documentary I did was about my friend Matthew, an instructor at Brass Ovaries. Lots of men pole. I know there’s even more of a stigma for them too. It’s a gender neutral sport and it’s art.
How have you kept up with practicing during quarantine?
I have been rigorously using my Instagram, it’s my favorite place to share pole performances. Seeing friends leave comments makes me feel like they’re cheering me on. I also take song requests that people want me to pole to. I also incorporate more combos (specific set of pole moves that are in continuance). I stitch combos and improv together so I can adjust how I get into and out of the moves.
What do you want people to know about pole dancing and performances?
There is so much more to it.
There are so many different styles of pole. My style is more contemporary, sultry. When I was younger I tried to shy away from anything too sexy. I didn’t want people to stereotype me. In college I started to explore different ways that pole could be performed.
There are so many different styles: rave music, lyrical, emotional, performances with fierce ten inch boots and everything in between. All art forms have a range of genres within them and no two are the same.
Everyone has their own style, it’s so beautiful. That’s how you know that they are expressing the most genuine version of themselves. I feel like the truest version of myself when I pole.