Inspired by Anais Nin – Part 1: “Organised Flow”

“too great an emphasis on technique arrests naturalness. The material from which I will create comes from living from the personality, from experience, adventures, voyages. This natural flow of riches comes first. The technique is merely a way to organise the flow, to chisel, shape; but without the original flow from deep inner riches of material, everything withers”
The Journals of Anais Nin – Volume Four.


There is so much I love about this quote! Anais Nin is not a dancer, but her words speak to every artist. Over the next few weeks I want to break down this quote and talk about it in relation to pole dancing – to pole practice, to performance, to training, to choreography, and to expression.

I think sometimes pole dancers forget to see themselves as artists. We’re told by the media and social memes that we are strong, empowered women. That we are athletes, stronger than our counterparts. We need sass, attitude, and if people don’t listen we’ll just bust out a move and prove them wrong.

Just like other creative endeavours pole dance is a form of expression, in your lounge room or on the stage. Just like a painter, photographer, writer, or singer, a pole dancer is expressing part of themselves. It feels good and that’s why we keep doing it! At the heart of the matter, we are not in it for the likes, nor to show off in the gym when we can do more pull ups than the guys. Our intentions when dancing come from within. We are artists and dancers, and shouldn’t be afraid to take that seriously.

Solotude 3

What first stood out for me in this quote was the line,

“The technique is merely a way to organise the flow”

To articulate this I’ll use an example from a pole class. In the studio our instructor was teaching us a combo – inside leg hang, through tammy, to elbow grip, to some kind of elbow grip split thing that we couldn’t decide if it had a name. It is an advanced move and required lots of trust through your elbow grip and commitment to the momentum of the spin. But many of us trying to learn the move kept breaking down into it’s individual components, and we all became stuck at various points unable to complete the combo.

Our instructor reiterated,
“it isn’t move, move, move, move, hold. Your arm and leg come around at the same time, hook the elbow as the hips sink out, bring the leg down, split. It’s all one action”.
She made it just flow. It wasn’t the final pose that she wanted us to achieve, it was the entire movement.

This instructor has impeccable technique. She even did the combo on her other side, always a good training tip! Back to the quote, her “technique is merely a way to organise the flow”. In other words, her solid technique allowed it flow, and our failed attempts at the move highlighted gaps in our own technique. For me, I lack trust in my elbow grip.

The individual tricks had become so natural, that our instructor could focus on how they flow together, creating a seamless progression with no stop-starts or jerky moments of uncertainty.

So what do we take from this? How do we find that place of “organised flow”?

I think it starts with trust, in our bodies, our skills, and our strengths. It takes persistence and determination to ensure our technique is solid and not just a series of happy accidents. It also takes intention. Our intention as pole dancer should not be just to nail the latest trick and move on. Our transitions, combos, poses, and tricks are just part of repertoire we use to create art.

Read on ….

Part 2
“too great an emphasis on technique arrests naturalness”

A Story in Song Titles

Last year, Sydney Pole started a call out for people’s stories – How Pole Changed Me. Dancers submitted videos, slideshows, or anecdotes revealing their reasons for taking up pole and the affect it has had on their lives.

Pole dance is an empowering practice and many stories share very powerful and personal messages of triumph, renewal, hope, and self love.

You can see my video from last year here.

Just for fun, this year I found a new way to share my story. With a backlog of over 18 solos and group choreography projects, it seemed there was a tonne of data just waiting to be collated into a story.

Writing out the song titles for each of these projects, they seemed to follow their own path that reflected my personal pole dance journey. Each song appears in chronological order from 2011 until now.

Perhaps my subconscious has been working at this all along! It all came together in a very uncanny way!

Bonus points for matching the song name to the photo if you have been following along!

Mel Nutter as Baudelaire PCM


Many of these songs appear on my playlist which you can listen or subscribe to here.

I’d love to hear about your own pole journey! Find a way to express it creatively, or just speak from the heart. You might just be surprised to see how far you have come!

Solotude 3 – Video!

You have seen the pictures, heard the rumours, and now you can watch the video!

Solotude 3 was such an amazing event! The feedback that has been flowing in about my routine has been wonderful. Thank you to all my followers and supporters, in real life and online. It has been wonderful to have such regular dance opportunities to grow as a performer.

This routine had been in the works for about six months. I usually work with a quicker timeline, however I think the overall performance benefited from my sustained practice. The extra time also offered me more space to reflect on the movements and how they related to the story and my intentions.

I like to work with narratives and pole drama, so this routine was based on the story of the Gemini constellation. Driven by the narrative of Pollux and Castor’s tragedy, I invited the audience to engage with elements of loss, connection, reunion, and shared identities. I love working with props, and the mask was a simple way to help the audience engage with and follow the story.

Photos of the night were captured by Lioness Photography and Ash King. I love how they used close ups and unique angles to compliment my performance, not just capturing my tricks.

If you like my performance, feel free to share it online! I am also available for choreography workshops, for studios and classes, or to help you with your own solo.

Send me an email at mel@melnutter.com and let’s start dancing!

Every Artist Was First An Amateur

Next week, I will walk on stage at The Vanguard for the fourth time – fifth if you count being pole monkey for another show.

December 2011- Art of Pole Christmas Showcase


April 2015 – Glam Rock Cabaret (Pole Monkey)


June 2015 – Solotude


November 2015 – Solotude 2

Solotude 2 - The Vanguard, Newtown - November 2015

June 2016 – Solotude 3

solotude 3 poster


I have been incredibly lucky to have had so many opportunities to refine my performance skills. Over so many years, of course my tricks have improved, but I have also been able to work on my stage presence and fluidity, and forge out my own style. Looking back at photos from 2011 I am blown away by how much pole dancing has shaped my growth as a person as well as a performer.

Ralph Waldo Emerson is famous for saying,

“Every artist was first an amateur.”

The journey from amateur to artist requires the support of a strong community. It requires determination, persistence, and passion. It also requires space to grow and evolve. In the case of a dancer, it also means a space to perform and people to watch.

I am so grateful for Solotude and the Vanguard for providing that space. And I am grateful to you for being that audience.

Come along to the show next weekend and support the rising stars! Find me in the crowd after my show and say hi and let me thank you in person for supporting all of the amateurs who are growing an artist within.

Tickets available here.

The Ultimate Guide to Walking in Heels


Last night I was collaborating on a photoshoot with a friend, and the photographer asked us to wear heels. Being a pole dancer, I happen to have quite the collection of shoes to choose from, and thankfully the skills to walk and dance in them!



The other model however, could not hide her nerves! She had only brought along one pair of heels and soon revealed that she did not feel at all comfortable walking, or even standing in them!

So, as the rest of the photography party played with lighting set ups and camera gear, I spent about twenty minutes coaching my friend on how to keep her balance and make the most of the extra length and extra swag that her heels could offer!

First, some long term strategies to make sure your strut stands out from the rest.

1 – Practice Practice Practice!
When my first pair of  7inch Pleasers arrived, I wore them as much as possible. Not just for pole, but while doing the dishes, vacuuming, and making dinner. For shoes with hard plastic straps, or even boots with stiff PVC, this will help soften them and make them more comfortable for when you are ready to dance. It also helps you stop overthinking how to walk and stand in them, making you feel more natural in the newest addition to your sexy wardrobe! And who doesn’t want to add some glamour to your daily chores!

2 – Good Posture
Walking and dancing in shoes is not just about learning what to do with your feet. Great shoes become an extension of your entire body. Knees, quads, hips, abs, it all helps you walk and not wobble. If you find yourself needing to cruise along furniture or never leaving the handrail, try to think about stabilizing. Use your quads to lift your legs, pulling up the muscles above the knees, hold tight with your core and make sure you are not leaning too far backwards or forwards. Lift your chin and look ahead, not at the ground just in front of your feet. In yoga, instructors talk about a drishti, a technique of fixing your gaze on an unmoving point to help you focus, and balance in one legged poses.

3 – Strengthen your ankles
If you find yourself rolling to the side when walking in heels, you may want to put some time in to strengthening your ankles. Practicing toe point exercises and heel raises will build up the supporting muscles that will help your feet stay in alignment when you are walking. When wearing your heels around the house, try some different walking motions,

  • take two steps forward and one step back,
  • take a step to the side,
  • step wide and then bring your feet back together,
  • even try turning around on the spot with the least amount of steps possible!


Now to some points for actually walking.

4 – The Four S’s: Slow, small, steady, steps
Save your Sarah Jessica Parker envy and don’t try and run in heels unless you have had years of practice! Start slow, with small steps. This will help you maintain your centre of gravity and allow you to focus on your technique as described above. Walking slow with small steps will also give you time to correct yourself if you do stumble.

5 – The heel and toe polka
Aside from times when you should be pointing your toes and landing on the platform, most walks in heels should follow a heel toe pattern. A flat footed walk will make you look more like a horse than a woman in control! A heel toe step will give you an elegant gait. But remember, the more slender your stiletto, the more stability you will need in your ankles to not roll as you place your heel down.

6 – Stairs
Walking up and down stairs can also be a nightmare in heels. There are often stairs to get on to a stage, and you would rather keep your composure than stack it before your routine even starts!
Going up – First of all, take it slow, and hold the handrail. Be mindful of how deep the tread of the steps are and if your shoe will fit. Keep the weight in the platform, and consider turning your feet to the side if you want to make sure your heel won’t slip.
Going down – I repeat, take it slow and hold the handrail! Be mindful of your posture and make sure you are not leaning forward, a sure fire way to go A over T. Turn your feet to one side so the platform and heel both make contact with the step.


So now there are no more excuses! Go out and buy some great shoes and get practicing! Keep this link handy for when you see a friend struggling in their heels too!

Happy dancing!

Keeping the Dance in Pole Dance


Do you speak through movement? Are you interested in learning how broaden the scope of your pole dance choreography?

I have previously shared some of my research into different forms of dance and how it influences my choreography and dance practice. As much as pole dancing shares it’s roots with stripping, exotic dancers, and Chinese pole, I believe it has the scope to stand up as a form of contemporary modern dance. Ideas from Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, Isadora Duncan, and many pioneers in dance,  can be applied to movements on or away from the pole, and their theories about movement and how to convey meaning with the body are just as valid for pole dance as they are for lyrical, contemporary or ballet productions.

So with this is mind, you can probably see how excited I was to come across Pole Purpose: Speaking Through Movement by Rowena Gander – a publication specifically aimed at helping pole dancers with their choreography.

Rowena Gander is an internationally recognised dance artist and a BA Hons graduate of Dance Practices. Her dance background and knowledge of how to integrate concepts, improvisation, meaning, and story telling into choreography has been such an asset to my own dance practice.

Her ebook, Speaking Through Movement, is super affordable and accessible to every pole dancer. The book is laid out in parts so you can work through each stage of the choreography process progressively. It is also really easy to to flick through to refer to during your rehearsals to keep you motivated and on track.

Aside from Kristy Sellars’ publication Key to Choreography, most of the media surrounding pole dance is fixated on new tricks, increasing flexibility, and capturing the sexuality of dance to empower women. Rowena acknowledges that sexuality and sensual dancing is tightly interwoven with the history of pole dance, however she asks the questions “where is this going?”

“When using the pole with a deliberate sexual intention, regardless of how the movement is executed, you will pull the attention of the audience. That’s easy. The real challenge is keeping them engaged like any other dance genre could. Ask yourself; where is this going?”

I don’t want to get shamed here for shunning sexy pole dance. You can read about my opinions about sexy pole here, and I have dipped my toe in this style with many routines. I do find I have a personal preference for story telling performances that are grounded in contemporary dance.

Chatting with a friend Richard a few weeks ago, I shared with him my latest choreography. Richard is my yoga teacher but also an accomplished dancer. Working constructively, he asked about my intention related to my movements, and about the character I was portraying. To me Rowena is asking the reader to also consider these points, “where is this going?” Who are you dancing for? What are you trying to say?

Rowena Gander recommends using improvisation and freestyle as a way to explore movement. Freestyle is often something that scares many pole dancers. It’s a space that makes us vulnerable and the limitless potential can be daunting, causing us to freeze up. However, practicing freestyle is a great way to find new movements and learn what feels natural for our own bodies. Rowena suggests taping your freestyles and experiments and reassures those dancing along at home that “there are no rules” – don’t be afraid of making mistakes.

In line with my own philosophy about dance, I believe if it feels authentic to you than no one can tell you that it’s wrong. Owning your movements and your expression can be scary, but often this is where the juicy bits of the choreography come from!

In addition to her advice on the theory behind the dance, which I could muse over for hours, Rowena also offers really practical ideas for working with music, movement, props and the pole. From how to begin mapping out your ideas, to how to refine your choreography to best convey your intention. Rowena’s words are relevant to both the beginner and professional pole dancer.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the content, but couldn’t write this without sharing some of my favourite quotes.

When talking about choice of pole tricks and transitions, Rowena guides the reader to refer back to their intentions and keep things simple. She states,

“The thing about tricks is that it can sometimes cripple the creativity of a routine.”


“A simple arm gesture is much more effective than a false back bend that has no relevance to the artistic intent. “

I have watched, and been tempted to choreograph, many routines that end up just be solely trick based. As hard as it is to let go of a combo you feel like you’ve been working on for months, but it is sometimes to the benefit of the entire work and the synergy of the routine to find something simpler.

I am so excited that Rowena Gander has contributed this book to the world of pole dance. As we find ourselves in a field that is growing quickly in so many directions, I find it reassuring to hear from someone who shares my sentiments about pole.

Let’s keep the dance in pole dance.


You can read about Rowena’s research and dance practice on her website, and see some of her performances here.

I am also available for individual choreography advice, or for group workshops for your students and/or instructors in your studio. Please contact me for details.