Tagjamilla deville

Self Awareness

JDPS Showcase March 2014

Last month I saw a video of Jamilla Deville interviewed by The Pole Dancing Chronicles. Sharing pole tips is a fairly common Q&A, most pole dancers offering advice that falls into a few typical categories –


These are all very practical tips, some of which I have written about on this blog too! But Jamilla is not just a pole dancer. She is an artist and her entire lifestyle is focused on training, body practices, health, and performance.

So, what was her pole tip you ask? She states,

“Pole is all about being aware of what your own body is doing … the more you grow as a pole athlete or artist the more you become self aware”

Self awareness can take many forms. There is spatial related self awareness, involving the knowledge and feeling of where your limbs and body are in space. Upside-down, hanging from one leg, finding your foot with your hand behind your body, it is obvious why self awareness in this sense is important when pole dancing.

There is also body related self awareness. How do you use your body to convey an idea? Showgirls and dancers have lots of practice in using their body to engage the audience. Hand gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, the poses and shapes chosen by a dancer, all support stage presence and the overall impact of a performance.

Let me also suggest that you may cultivate self awareness of the mind, through pole dancing just like any form of performance art or body practice.

Self awareness is defined as
“conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires”

I recently shared some insight into my choreography process, explaining how I use material from my own experience as inspiration for concepts and performances. In this way pole dancing, and choreography creation, is like a reflection tool, helping you to unpack your thoughts and feelings about an event, reaching a resolution or a state of deeper understanding.

Embedding your dance with meaning and making conscious decisions about what to add or leave out, is similar to the process of any artist (painter, writer, photographer, sculptor etc) that fosters greater self awareness. You find a way to share a feeling, motive, or desire, through the medium of expression.

This process may also reveal broader ideas such as why you choose pole dance as your medium of expression. Does it stimulate a feeling or desire, or a character within yourself that you wish to express?

Asking yourself these questions can reveal some insightful ideas that may inspire a new performance piece, or a whole new direction in your training. For those seeking authentic expression and a sense of fulfillment, the act of fostering self awareness can be creatively satisfying too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on self awareness or how pole dance offers you avenues for growth. Comment here or tag me on Facebook!

Stage Presence

Stage PresenceThe X Factor. Engaging the audience. Capturing the crowd. Having “It”.

There are some dancers that just seem to own it. From the moment they step onto the stage you are drawn in. It might be a walk, a look, their costume. The dancer might not have even moved yet, or be on stage, but their choice of music and/or pose has you mesmerized by their mystery.

These are the shows I want to talk about. The ones that stick in your brain for years to come. The performers that you can watch again and again. They are the shows that make your dinner go cold as you sit there frozen, moth agape, unable to turn away.

A few years ago I joined a small group to train with Jamilla Deville as part of her Extend Yourself training program. Over two days we learned some great pole tricks and cross training advice but we also talked extensively at this elusive “it” factor.

Like many abstract concepts, it was easier to describe what it wasn’t then to truly grasp what it was. No one could put quite their finger on it.

One thing was for sure, however, we knew what it was when we saw it!

If you are seeking to understand stage presence and begin to learn how to capture it yourself, my advice is this,

1) Start studying dancers who you see have it.
Short Instagram videos are great for mini tutorials and finding new tricks, but you are going to have to watch entire performances to begin to understand stage presence. You can find many full clips on YouTube of pole competitions and showcases. Pole Ranking offer live streams of the larger comps too. Add your favourites to a short list so you can return to them again and again.

2) Go and see a live performance.
It doesn’t even need to be a pole performance. Check out some local plays, or head to a burlesque night out on the town. Small intimate venues will let you be close enough to the action to see their movements and get a feel for how they are putting on the show. Larger venues, like Miss Pole Dance Australia at the Enmore Theatre, will give you the chance to see how great performers can dance in front of 1000s of people while giving the impression that they are solely dancing for you.

3) What elements make these performances the same?
Aside from the fancy pole tricks, sensual body rolls, and legs for days, ask yourself what else are these performers doing.

  • Are they making eye contact with the audience? When? As they walk out on stage, during pole tricks, during floorwork?
  • Are they telling a story? Contemporary and lyrical pole performances can be particularly enthralling when done well.
  • Are they using props that help you understand the story? Your narrative is only worthwhile if the audience knows what is going on.
  • Do you notice the soundtrack or is the music working seamlessly with the choreography? Everything doesn’t have to be on the beat, but a sense of musicality goes a long way to helping a performance look polished.
  • How long are they holding their poses for? Even with a fast song, a good performer knows how to draw out their pole poses and floorwork so the audience has time to see and understand what they are watching.

If you can start incorporating these elements into your own routines, you will be well on the way to a brilliant performance. Begin working on these ideas as you are writing your choreography too, then they will be ingrained into the routine just as well as your pole tricks.

For extra tips about feeling confident on stage and developing your performance skills I recommend reading, Feel It, before you try and say it and Everyone is Talking About Sexy Pole. Or if you are on the look out for some inspiration, I have linked to my favourite dancers here.