Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan


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Perception: Body and Pole

Contributed by Sophie Herber
Interior of studio, located at 302 Mankato Avenue, Suite A, Winona, MN

A local business is bringing a fresh wave of creativity, strength, and inclusivity to Winona.

Perception: Body and Pole are a pole dancing studio owned and operated by Ashley Wagner, 36.

Wagner celebrated her 30th birthday in 2017 by trying pole dancing for the first time at a studio in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

“I instantly fell in love with it,” Wagner said. “I had seen pole dancing in strip club settings and was just so in awe of the way they moved and their strength and abilities.”

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After two years of commuting to La Crosse for training, Wagner began to envision a practical space for this art in her hometown of Winona.

Perception: Body and Pole first opened in late 2019 as a 250-square-foot downtown studio. Wagner was ecstatic to finally have a space to practice her passion and teach others.

Three months later, her plans were put on pause due to COVID-19.

“I did not teach for a while. I was so new to the business that I decided not to move forward with navigating the business as a new owner and navigating COVID-19,” Wagner said. “Instead, I focused on my own training and got my group fitness instructor certification, as well as my pole instructor certification.”

After reopening for classes in early 2021, Wagner realized the small studio space was no longer sufficient.

“I was very limited on what I could do in that space, so I started looking at other spaces and when I came upon this one, I thought it was perfect,” Wagner said about her current studio located on Mankato Avenue.

According to Wagner, many preconceived notions and misconceptions surround pole dancing, even though it contains an immense variety of artistic and athletic abilities.

Perception: Body and Pole aim to challenge this by fostering a community of inclusivity and empowerment.

“My hope is that people can come here and feel that this is a safe space to express themselves however they want to,” Wagner said.

Wagner strives to make her studio a safe place for all people, genders, and fitness levels to challenge themselves and explore the beauty and artistry of the dance form.

“Pole can take on so many different looks. You can be sexual with it, sensual with it, you can be artistic with it, you can be more athletic with it like a gymnast, or even more theatrical with it and tell a story,” Wagner said.

Perception: Body and Pole are working to break the stigma surrounding pole dancing by embracing the technical and creative components while also encouraging everyone to be their authentic selves.

More information on Perception: Body and Pole can be found on their website or on Facebook and Instagram @perceptionbodyandpole.

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