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International Pole Dancing Competition in Denver: Meet the winners (PHOTOS)

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Pole Dancing Universe's International Pole Dance Competition took place in Denver over the weekend, and according to the organization's Facebook page, there were four big winners: Michelle Stanek (pro division), Phoenix Kazree (amateur), Maria Luz Escalanta (pole artist) and Timber Brown (pole athlete). Look below to see photos and bios of the champs from the PDU website. Michelle Stanek (US) Michelle Stanek's pole dancing career began after her first frustrating yet intoxicating class at Crunch Gym when she realized it could be an incredibly fun and challenging and art form utilizing her classical and modern dance background. Four years later, Michelle is the 2011 USPDF Amateur champion and now a USPDF Pro. She also earned first place in the PFA's East Meets West "Pole Drama" competition in September 2010 and also Polesque in January 2010. She is beyond humbled and excited to be a part of Pole Dance Universe and to have the opportunity to share what pole dance means to her--something inherently but unusually sensual, creative, unique and expressive.

Michelle is one of three master trainers for the new instructor certification program, X-Pert, a partnership between Crunch Gym and X-Pole. Michelle cherishes every opportunity to dance--her childhood dream, finally realized, with the addition of a pole apparatus. In addition, Michelle earned her BA and MA in the theory, history and criticism of art and design. She taught art history survey courses at Pratt Institute, worked as the program curator of AIGA, the professional association for design, and traveled to Italy each summer to lecture and lead tours on Italian art and history. She also loves bonding with nature and seeking adventure.

Phoenix Kazree (US) Phoenix Kazree, a native of Los Angeles, CA, is married and the proud mother to a beautiful son.

She began her journey on the pole in September, 2010. Phoenix is a former gymnast and currently travels the US with the touring company of a hit Broadway show. With the constant traveling, Phoenix hasn't had the opportunity to establish a home base within a particular pole studio. But, she has been welcomed to many studios across the country and would like to thank those studios and instructors who have helped her make it this far.

Maria Luz Escalanta (Argentina) I´m 31 years old from Argentina, South America . I started taking ballet lessons at the age of 5 and never stopped! From 19997 till1999 I played various key roles in Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, Corsair, Carmen, Paquita, La Fille Mal Gardée,etc.

I have a Degree in Human Resources.At 23 years old I became a fitness instructor specializing in spinning, stretching, cardio strip dance, gymnastics located, reggaeton, Latin rhythms, pilates mat, etc.

In May 2007, I finally met the pole dance world and soon started to teach beginners level in the first school of Pole Dance in Argentina. A year later I earned the title of "Best Pole Dancer" at the Pole Dance Championship Argentina-2008.

In 2009 I won again in Miss Pole Dance Argentina 2009 and became the first runner up at the Miss Pole Dance South América 2009. Last year I took the 2nd place at the Miss Pole Dance World in Zurich, Switzerland and looking forward to a new challenge at the competition in Denver.

Timber Brown (US)

Timber Brown, most noted for his vocabulary and skill on pole, is a professional aerial and acrobatic artist. Timber has been a featured character and performer in numerous productions and special events around the globe. In addition to owning and operating "Anomalia Entertainment", based in Las Vegas, Timber primarily performs as an independent contractor in association with several entertainment companies worldwide. "I love the companies I work with! On most contracts I feel like I am visiting my second family...there is an unconditional, subconscious amount of trust we all have with each other. Without this trust the show would never be a success."

As well as performing Timber loves apparatus concept creation and acrobatic vocabulary research..."This is what I really love and enjoy...it's difficult enough for me not to climb anything I see that peaks my curiosity. Especially if it has an interesting shape or I see that something amazing can be done with it... I am very fortunate that this is my livelihood." This will be Timber's debut at a major pole fitness event. "I am very excited to say the least! Every person has their own style, vocabulary and movement quality...in the end we are all exercising, sharing, and performing the same thing...Pole. I'm very happy and proud to be participating in an event that is integrating like minded people and giving us all the opportunity to share, perform, and have friendly competition with each other. Thank you!"


More from our Follow That Story archive: "Denver Nuggets Dancers finalize 2011-2012 roster (PHOTOS)."

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