When we think of strong circus women, pole naturally comes to mind. Women have been on the front lines of teaching and performing pole dance since the beginning, developing new skills, crafting curriculum, opening studios around the world, and performing everywhere from the gentlemen’s clubs to Cirque du Soleil. In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re taking a look at some of the most influential pole dancers of the past two decades — a sort of who’s who of present day pole.
The Innovative Instructor
Australian Jamilla DeVille started her career studying various forms of dance, along with trapeze, silks, and corde lisse. She took up pole in 2000, and was crowned the first Miss Pole Dance Australia in 2005. Ever heard of the jade split? It’s named for her: ja[milla]de[ville]. Jamilla has also won a number of awards for her teaching — one of her biggest contributions to the pole world is a series of instructional DVDs, The Art of Pole. Before there was a pole dance studio in every major city, many aspiring dancers relied on Jamilla’s instruction to help them understand concepts like body alignment, balance, and grace on the pole. Check out her signature showgirl style here.
The Cirque Star
Jenyne Butterfly hails from Seattle, where she began pole dancing around 2005. Jenyne was the first US Pole Dance Federation champion, but she is perhaps best known for work with Cirque du Soleil. She originated the role of Dirty Diana in the cirque show Michael Jackson ONE, where she performed on a unique curved pole. Check out one of her famous YouTube videos here.
The Hometown Hero
Our next pole star, Natasha Wang, was born and raised in Austin and graduated from UT. She took up pole dance at the age of 30 — with no prior experience in dance or gymnastics. Natasha’s strength and grace, along with her incredibly creative storytelling soon shot her to fame. She’s won a slew of awards for teaching and performing and is the co-founder of X-Purr, a line of premium pet toys. Check out her famous Black Swan routine here.
Originally from Indiana, Alethea burst onto the pole scene in 2009 and was the US Pole Dance Champion in 2010. Known for her signature “sexy-flexy” style, Alethea’s raw and sensual performances are always crowd favorites. A few years ago, she “retired” to Nashville and opened her own studio, The Chrome Bar. However, she soon embarked on a new creative project: reimagining the pole dance competition by putting the emphasis on amazing performances, stage spectacle, and killer music. Her brainchild, Miss Pole Dance America, was a smash hit in 2015 and 2016. Check her out here.
We’ll complete our list with an up-and-comer: Roslyn Mays, AKA Roz the Diva. A personal trainer and pole dance instructor based in New York City, Roz is perhaps best-known as the creator of the award-winning documentary Dangerous Curves: A Celebration of Plus Size Pole Dancers. She currently teaches “obnoxiously loud” classes at Body & Pole and Incredipole in NYC and has appeared as an actor and stunt double in a number of TV shows, including Law & Order: SVU. You might also recognize her from America’s Got Talent. Watch her work here (skip to the 3:00 minute mark).
We celebrate strong women like Jamilla, Jenyne, Natasha, Alethea, and Roz every day in our Austin circus studio. We hope you’ll take some inspiration from these influential women, and from all the amazing women who walk through our doors. From all of us at Sky Candy, Happy International Women’s Day!