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”

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.

Floorwork: Rising Up to the Challenge


When I first started pole dancing, we had a saying at the studio, “the floor is lava!”. The pole was our safe place, our rock that allowed everyone to spin around like superstars. The floor was a hard place (especially on the knees!) that revealed our lack of dance backgrounds and coordination.

Over the last few years, however, there has been a resurgence in floorwork. Pole dancers now don knee pads and leggings, and admit to even neglecting their pole tricks for the allure of “rolling around on the floor”. Floorplay is open for auditions once again and studios run classes exclusively for floorwork. Competition pros even have their own take on Basework  and Low Flow.

Floorwork does not have to be defined by sultry and sexy moves. You can make it gymnastic, acrobatic, contemporary, or add a break dance feel depending on your influence. In fact, your floorwork may even impact the overall style of your routine, dictating the flow of your pole tricks and your expression.

I was recently asked about my choreography process, in particular which comes first, pole or floor? Most of my initial inspiration comes from visualisation and as much as I see myself doing pole combos to various parts of the song, I also picture a pose or grounded movement. It’s a starting place for a floorwork sequence that is not necessarily how I will begin the routine, but may become a motive or shape that I revisit throughout.

I like the idea that floor based tricks can add a new layer to a performance. Jazz and contemporary dance talk a lot about levels for pathways of movement. You can try this exercise in your lounge room or studio:

Put on a song and set yourself a limitation. Consider moving from A to B (or pole to pole) by only crawling or rolling on the floor. No kneeling, no standing. Take as long as you need to, the whole song if you wish. Tune in to what comes naturally and places you get stuck.
Try a second and third time with new limitations. Rising only as high as your knees, or moving across the floor from a standing position. Set a rule that you much have one hand touching one foot at all times. Try it with both hands touching each other at all times.

The character of your performance and your intention will define how well each of these suggestions connect to the rest of your choreography. But they are worth exploring though freestyle or as a specific exercise, you’ll be surprised how creative you can be!

It has taken a long time to grow accustom to the carpet burns and bruised knees that come part and parcel with floorwork. However, I am working at making it a more important part of my repertoire. Acknowledging it as a space to incorporate different dance styles and offer even more scope for expression, time spent “rolling around on the floor” can lead to finding the essence of the dance, just as much as a pole freestyle.

But if the floor is still a scary, untouchable place for you take inspiration from Yvonne Smink, who choreographed an entire routine without touching the floor until her final dismount!

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.

Solotude 3!

solotude 3 poster

The team at Sydney Pole are at it again! Solotude 3 will hit the Vanguard on June 19th!

This night is an opportunity for amateur and semi-pro dancers to perform in a more public space than the studio. The last two Solotude events were an absolute blast and I am so excited to have been invited to perform once again!

You can see my first Solotude performance here. And there are shots of my Solotude 2 performance in the gallery.

Come along to see a fabulous night of pole story telling and performance art in the grand venue of the Vanguard!


Tickets available here!