Over the weekend, ANIMAL had the privilege of witnessing the athletic mastership and gravity-defying feats of grace at the 2012 U.S. Pole Dance Federation Championship at the Upper West Side’s Symphony Space performing arts center. Watch our interview with this year’s winner Michelle Stanek and behold some amazing moves. “I’m not bothered by the provocative tone of pole dancing. What bothers me is the missing link between what I do and what the public generally thinks we do,” Stanek told us, adding, “the roots came from the exotic dance industry, but where it is now is totally different. We really need recognition for where it’s gone since then.”