Local pole dancers heading for Hollywood

01 June 2018 | Life Style

Leandrea Louw - Childhood friends and now pole dancing enthusiasts Sonja Keil (27) and Charlotte Ann Taylor-Debortoli (27) are on their way to Los Angeles for the World Championships of Performing Arts held from 6-15 July.

The duo entered the Namibia Championships of Performing Arts after they stumbled across the event on Facebook and decided to take a chance.

“We initially thought it would be nice to be judged on a theatrical point of view by local and South Africa judges. We were completely chuffed by the end result as we received gold for acro duet as well as the trophy for best overall duet dance.”

They are however still avidly trying to raise funds to make their trip to Hollywood a reality.

“For the past six months we’ve hosted a potjiekos competition, we sold wine and raffle tickets, and now we are planning a Ladies Night for 9 June. We still need about N$60 000 to make it to Los Angeles. We are extremely excited and have worked hard to make this dream a reality. We feel honored to have such a strong community behind us that is supporting us.”

Sonja, the owner of Pole Dance Fitness Swakopmund, always had a passion for gymnastics, and was a gymnast during her early school years.

Taylor-Debortoli played inline hockey and practiced karate for which she presented Namibia in a few competitions. The practice accountant for a local auditing firm is married to Namibia Senior Inline Hockey captain, Marco Debortoli, and is the proud mother of a five-year-old son.

Sonja says she always had an immense passion for dancing, gymnastics and theatre from a very young age. After she matriculated from Namib High School she went to Cape Town, South Africa, to pursue her dreams.

“I’m certified in ATCL which is an Associate Diploma in Speech and Drama, awarded by Trinity College of London. I’m also a qualified group fitness trainer, qualified yoga instructor awarded by the Chaitanya School of Yoga and a qualified beginner, intermediate and advance pole dance fitness instructor through the Pole Community.

“Even after I accomplished all this, I felt there was more I could learn, and then I heard about pole dance fitness. I attended my first pole dance fitness class and I immediately fell in love. My pole instructor saw potential in me and immediately enrolled me into a beginners, intermediate and advanced pole dance teacher course, which I passed with flying colours in 2010.”

She started teaching pole dance fitness at various studios and later on travelled to Australia for three months to train at the Boobies Pole Studio, one of the best pole studios in the world.

“To enhance my flexibility I also attended a contortion course, and in September 2016, pole dance fitness Swakopmund opened its doors. At the end of last year, I also attended a pole dance fitness camp in Croatia, to brush up my skills. ”

Taylor-Debortoli attended classes with her. “I immediately saw potential in creating a pole double team with Charly. She is also a qualified beginner’s pole dance studio instructor since last year June.”

The duo did their first double pole dance routine at Carnival of Flames in December 2016. Shortly after they were invited to dance at the Windhoek Karnaval in March 2017, which was a huge success for them. Right after they were invited to do the opening act at the Africa Inline Hockey Cup 2017. On the same night they danced at Shimmy for Shelter, a fundraising event for the SPCA.

“In June 2017 we were the first Namibian Pole Dance Doubles team to compete at the South Africa Pole Dance Competition, in which we were awarded first place in the doubles category.”

Afterwards they were invited to many more events which include the Walvis Bay Karnaval, a fundraiser for the Goju Kai karate championships, the Standard Bank Coastal Motor Show, the Poker Rally as well as at the Round Table in Windhoek.

More recently they performed at the 14th Gymnastics African Championships opening ceremony and at the opening of the Africa Cup Inline Hockey Cup.

According to Sonja there are usually people that stereotype what pole dancing is, since many see a pole dancer as a stripper or exotic dancer.

“We ignore those comments. Everyone that has seen us perform completely understands the art behind our routines. I love it when people have something to say, which makes the performance even more exciting, because we know we’ll completely surprise them.”

According to her pole dance fitness is an exciting sport designed to increase strength, flexibility, burn fat, tone and build muscle.

“It crafts every part of your body as you control spins, execute tricks and perform a routine while building on your muscle strength in a unique and engaging way and having lots of fun with a 360 degree workout”.

Check out their Facebook page, Pole Dance Fitness Swakopmund, or contact Sonja at [email protected]

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