IMG_0820Four years ago (when this photo was taken!) when I walked into Art of Pole studios on Parramatta Rd, I would have never anticipated pole dancing would have affected me the way it has. I didn’t even know who Jamilla Deville was, but as soon as I saw her spinning and twirling with such grace and strength, I felt it shake something up inside of me.

Despite the Art of Pole studios being rather small – a single room, 50mm static brass poles, wooden floors, and an outdoor toilet! – Jamilla and her team were keen to run studio showcase events. They valued the idea of offering students a safe and supportive place to dance.

This ethos has been threaded through the studio as it has changed locations and changed hands. The owners, teachers, and students all recognising that showcase is a chance to foster aspiring dancers and offer a space for performance that is not a competition or paid gig. It’s a space for you to get up on stage, dance your way, to your music, in your style.

Daunting? Yes!

Hard work? Yes!

Worth it! Hell YES!

My first showcase was at the Vanguard Theatre in Sydney’s Inner West. I danced to Numb by Portishead, and my biggest trick was an Ankle Grab (AKA Bat). Could I have placed in a comp with that routine? No way! But in the showcase environment, it was more than welcome, a sign of the studio’s acceptance and interest in hearing a new voice.

I’ve clocked up over fifteen solos since, all performed in the container of security and support that is my studio. I now have many more tricks than a straddle to an ankle grab, but the essence of that dance is still woven into my new routines. In that first performance I learned about choreography, interpreting music, conveying messages with my body, stage presence, facial expressions, costume, hair, make up … the list goes on! And the stage, lighting, backstage energy, sense of community, I was hooked!

A fortnight ago was our most recent showcase at Sydney Pole. I was invited to dance as part of a small group in what was aptly named the “Proposal Dance”. A friend surprised her pole dancing partner with a “Will You Marry Me” dance! We choreographed a short routine and then brought Kat on stage for her surprise. It was magic! And it highlights the whole showcase concept – it’s about community, acceptance, support, and openness.

My pole journey started with a showcase performance. Every time I get on stage I learn something more about myself, and more about dancing. I am so grateful for the studios who offer this as part of their program and highly recommend you get yourself into one! Or at least come along to watch at Sydney Pole sometime, I’m sure you’ll get hooked too!

Oh, and yes, she said “yes!”