When Jahleeka Morris earned one of 20 slots on “Born to Dance,” she fought for it tooth and nail. On the dance competition show, which aired last year on BET; Morris was one of the oldest dancers, the only mother in the house, and the one with the fullest figure.
“Jelly” as she is known, was considered an underdog. However, she quickly became a fan favorite and a favorite of celebrity choreographer, LaurieAnn Gibson. While Morris did not win the competition, leaving as the final four were chosen, she did gain a strong fan following and support that has allowed her to further her dancing dreams.
Morris and her business partner, Jynnifer Phillips, have recently opened a pole dancing studio in Atlanta, a city known far and wide for its legendary strip clubs. However, the clientele of Eye Candy Studios, “The Kittens,” as they are affectionately called, are not professional pole dancers, but teachers, lawyers, and psychologists. Even the owners are employed in corporate America. For “The Kittens,” Pole dancing is about exercise, empowerment, and exercise.
In the last five years, pole dancing has become a popular and successful fitness routine among women and is no longer just associated with seedy strip clubs. Even Jay-Z dropped a lyric for “all the girls taking amateur strip classes for exercise.”
AllHipHop.com sat down with Jahleeka Morris and Jynnifer Phillips at Eye Candy Studios in Atlanta to talk about life after “Born to Dance,” and Hip-Hop’s obsession with skrippers.
AllHipHop.com: Are you still in touch with LaurieAnn?
Jahleeka Morris: No. unfortunately I have not spoken to LaurieAnn. At first, it was frustrating because she would always tell me how proud she was and genuinely interested she was in further my dance career. But I didn't hear from her at all. I get the business, though, and I am mature enough to understand that people do and say things sometimes but don't have action to reflect those ideas. Thank God I take things for face value, or I would have been hurt - like some of the other girls.
AllHipHop.com: Why did you choose to open a pole studio, versus some other type of dance?
Jahleeka Morris: Pole dancing is a non-conventional method of self-expression. The hardest thing to get a woman with lowered self-esteem to do is to look at herself and actually like who she sees. Pole dancing pretty much exposes all the insecurities women have, and helps them get over them. For the most part, pole dancing helps a woman gain a sense of pride and self-encouragement. Women are getting into pole dancing because it’s sexy, it’s a great form of alternative fitness, and it’s a way to create and build new friendships. We learn from each other, we are there for each other, and we support each other.
AllHipHop.com: Along those same lines, why do you think Hip-Hop is so obsessed with strippers?
Jynnifer Phillips: It's all about the fantasy. Pole dancers, and women who take pole classes, are confident women who can dance and are unashamed of their sexuality. Who wouldn't be attracted to that?
Eye Candy Studios is located at 2135 Defoor Hills Dr. Suite F., Atlanta, GA 30318. The studio offers fitness classes to women of all shapes, sizes, and levels of experience 7 days a week. More information is available at their website: www.eckstudio.com.