Cecilia De Bucourt was a model in the 90’s: she worked with Naomi and Claudia by her side for elite names of the fashion industry.
A fashion designer: designed collections for Barney’s and Guess and now she has her own clothing line.
A photographer: her photos of dancers are true pieces of art that transcendents anything known so far in pole dance photography.
And of course: she’s a pole dancer. AND she recently won “Dramatic level 4 Master” at PSO Boston.
And these are just a few steps of her career.
This beautiful woman – with her life résumé much larger than my probably 5 next incarnation will be – has really captured my heart. We had only virtual rendezvous (unfortunately we’re miles away), but I loved her energy, her creativity, her passion and the way she’s always ready for action.
And that’s why I began with a set of questions, that interested me most.
On the left: “Pin up calendar shoot in Argentina wearing a REAL snake around my neck. It felt cold and wet and super heavy.”
On the right: “ELLE Cover. I was about 25 years old.”
With a body of a goddess that you have I suppose you did some sport before?
Thank you for the compliment… No… I actually never exercised before I started pole dancing. I was really lazy and claimed most of my life that I would never get into sports or exercise. I remember saying when I was in my 20’s: “I wished I was more athletic”, I knew that it was more than just looking fit, it was a lifestyle. I tried yoga, the gym… but would quit after 3 weeks or so. I always got bored quickly.
“Natasha Wang, she is a classic in the pole world. And Icon. Pure elegance, talent and such a nice person.”
So why pole dance?
I was 41 years old, and after having 2 kids, I felt the need to do some kind of exercise. I knew very well that going to the gym was out of the question. I didn’t care only about looking fit, but I wanted to find a way of moving, expressing myself and finding a fun activity. I heard from someone that pole dancing was a great complete workout. So, I went online, googled pole dance and Michelle Stanek’s video came up (USPDF 2012 champion). I was blown away… So much elegance, strength, and beauty!
I decided to give it a try. It was April 5th, 2013 (a date I will never forget, almost as important as my birthday), and I signed up for my first intro to pole class at Body & Pole in NYC. I knew my life changed forever the moment I left class that day, I wanted more… much more. I was certain I would never quit pole dancing, but I had no idea at the time that pole dancing would affect and transform my entire life.
“Pink Puma. This was one my first shoots with an International pole Star that I have not met until my shoot day. I contacted her by FB message and asked her if I could take her photos. When the day she walked into my studio, I was blown away. Her beauty and presence are out of this world. She said she would give me 3 hours max. She stayed 8 hours. We connected and we loved the images we were doing together. I took about 2.000 images, which I can assure you 1.950 are perfect. It has never happened to me before. Choosing the very best ones, was incredibly challenging, A moment I will never forget.”
Can you share us in what way did pole dancing affect your life?
Yes, pole dancing has transformed my life, big time.
My body had been my work tool for 14 years during my modeling years. And I was constantly judged by the way I looked and that made it difficult to feel confident or love my body.
After I started to pole dance, I felt more connected to my body, started feeling it in new ways. Amazed by the thing it can do, the way it can move, the way it can become a medium to express feelings. I now feel stronger, healthier and more confident than ever before.
And most important, when I started pole dancing, I was recently divorced. I felt so heartbroken, scared, sad, disappointed and hopeless. My divorce was the most stressful an difficult thing I went through in my entire life. I can say with certainty, pole dancing saved me. It gave me back the confidence, strength, and self-love I needed to understand that I didn’t need anyone next to me. That I AM ENOUGH. I became my best friend. And now I know that the day I choose to be with someone again, will not be from a place of ‘need’ but from a place of growth and pure love. Pole dancing “as a lifestyle” affects people more than words can explain. It is pure magic.
“Ahhhhhh Magnus, the “MagnusFICENT”! I love this guy. Currently, he teaches at Body and Pole in NYC, where I train. And I try to take all his classes. Just watching him demonstrate the moves we are learning, is a treat for me. That is where the “emoji eyes” come from… LOL. I feel that hearts come out of my eyes when I watch him dance. He is pure perfection. Also, a really nice human being. Shooting with him was one of my dreams. And, I can’t wait to shoot with him again sometime.”
It’s true. Pole dancers have a special bondage among themselves because of that magic and the experience the pole gave to them.
Yes, so true! I have met amazing friends in the pole community and there is a sense of companionship with them that is really valuable to me. I was only 14 years old when I left home in Argentina to go model in Japan, Spain, Italy, France and lastly the U.S.A. So friends are real treasures to me. I love them as a family. Today, I can say that most of my friends and people I connect with are from the pole/aerial world.
“Aggie Ng. This shoot was beyond crazy. I got an inflatable swimming pool in my studio. My idea was to fill it with water and paint (which I did) but the water in my studio was cold and this was shot in winter during the night. The heater was turned off in the whole building and it was freezing. She suffered through this. I literally took only 5-7 clicks and this came out. She was so cold and I just couldn’t make her stay longer in that silver freezing water. Aggie is incredibly talented and unique.”
You said that dance entered a bit late in your life when your creativity was already in expand. So in what way pole dance influenced your art? How would you describe the connection between the pole dance and art? The way you see it?
I started taking photos when I was twelve years old. I went through different phases of photography styles. Street photography, fashion, musicians… and when I started pole dancing, I decided that photography would be my way of giving back to this community. I wanted to create artistic photos of pole dancers in an elegant, strong and dynamic way and show to the world through photos how beautiful, elegant and classy pole dancing is. Every session is a very intense and beautiful experience for me. My goal is always to capture the essence of my subject in a new way.
“Kelly McLaughlin and her boyfriend Ryan Daniel Beck. I shot this for Body Art. Painted bodies in Copper and Silver. It is one of my favorite images I have ever done.”
Your pole photography is so different from the rest of pole photographers. It’s expressive, we can clearly see your own different vision of seeing things… how do you achieve that even the great pole stars like Marion, Natasha and the rest step out of the conventional movement and poses?
When I take photos, I stay true to my vision. It is not an effort, these images are all somehow part of me.
Working with pole starts is truly a blessing because their experience and talent are very inspiring. I always say it is teamwork. It is not only me who creates the image. We do it together. When I prepare for a shoot, I do a lot of planning. I even sketch the frames I have in mind, as a storyboard as if it was a movie. I get props, make the clothes myself, I think of the lighting, poses, hairstyle, make up, etc. And the more I plan the better it turns out.
I also like very much shooting dancers off the pole. Only in that way, I get to discover something different about the dancer and how creative they are without having a pole as an apparatus. My favorite photos of pole dancers are actually not on the pole.
On the left: “Crystal Belcher. This shoot was everything! I painted her in Gold, I made a dress out of grass, and we did some timeless images with her.”
On the right: “Marion Crampe. Ahhhh… she is a fairy, a magic soul. We have become close friends after this shoot. I adore her.”
Can an ordinary pole dancer hire you or do you pick a person who you’ll be taking pictures of? Your photography is art – I imagine it’s difficult working on demand…
For a long time, I only took photos of who I wanted to. Mostly pole stars, or people that simply inspired me. However, photography has turned into a big part of my life, and this past year, I started offering photoshoots to anyone who wanted to work with me. And it has been a wonderful experience. Every shoot becomes an unforgettable experience. We have fun while creating art. Yes, It is not easy to be an artist on demand. That is why I don’t shoot too often. I need time to recharge, and feel inspired each time.
“Steven Retchless. I call him the GOD OF BEAUTY. I believe he is the most beautiful human on the planet. On top of that, he is talented and super sweet. We have done 2 photo shoots and each time has been pure magic.”
I read somewhere that you were turned down by some designer but you kept calling him and contact him every single day till he accepted your line and together you had a very fruitful cooperation for years! Can you give us some advice, a wisdom from this anecdote?
Ohhh the story with Barney’s department store. Oh, dear… that was quite something. So when I was 29 years old I started getting tired of the modeling world and I was being turned down for castings for being ‘already too old’ so I decided to move on. I enrolled in F.I.T (Fashion Institute of technology) to become a fashion designer. At school, the teachers prepared us to be good at working for someone else. They would tell us: the day you work for someone like Donna Karan…. or Ralph Lauren… etc… and I was thinking … “why would I want to work for anybody else when I can have my own brand?”. I remember even saying that thought out loud in class and got a few cold looks from some students as if I had said something out of place. Truth is, I never even had the remote idea or wish to work for anybody.
So only one month into design school, I created my logo, my label and started hand knitting shawls and scarves. They were funky, colorful and one of a kind. I had a dream, to sell at Barneys New York. I got their number from the yellow pages (yes, we used yellow pages at the time) and called for 3 months over and over leaving messages. Until one day, they returned my call and I told them I really believed that my product was perfect for them. They set up a meeting, and they were my clients for 10 years.
My advice is to just try. Go for it… insist and don’t be scared of rejection. Keep doing what you love, and what feels right.
“Patricia Yndigoyen. I remember the first time I saw her. It was a rehearsal at Body and pole for a competition. I was still on my first baby steps in my pole journey. And she was competing and showing us her routine. I was amazed by her talent and fierceness. And started asking around: Who is that girl? I learned she was from Peru and searched her up on Facebook. After some time, we became super close friends. She also loves photography and helps me in many of my photoshoots. Patricia is the current Iceland Pole Theater Professional Champion among other International and national titles. And, my friend and soul sister!”
I want to thank you for this interview, for sharing your intimate feelings, for inspiring us and for making this world much more pleasant with your visual art. Your passionate energy is so contagious and I hope our readers had a chance to felt you as I did. I’m hardly waiting to see your next project! Wishing you all the best … and I’m so happy that this time I can say that to YOU: “emoji eyes, emoji eyes” (laugh)
Thank you, Masa! It has been really nice talking with you and really hope we meet in person someday soon!
I create these images hoping I can make people feel things so I truly appreciate your kind words about my work.
Emoji eyes… back at you!
“The End – I always take a selfie with my models after a shoot. It is a great memory and reminds both me and them of a good time we had.”
Magnus Labbe interview with beautiful photography of Cecilia de Bucourt