This year’s Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira put pole dancing on the world’s BIGGEST stage for millions to see! In celebration of this amazing milestone in pole dance history, we spoke to ALL of JLO’s super pole dancers to get their perspective on their historic performance.
Johanna Sapakiehas been pole dancing off and on for about 10 years. She was already working in the industry as a circus performer (aerialist) and dancer for many years. In 2009, Johanna joined Cirque Du Soleil. She began her pole dancing journey there, combining both aerial acrobatics and dance.
Egyptshari started pole dancing about 15 years ago at the age of 20 with the likes of OG polers such as Karol Helms, Pantera, Felix Cane, Studioveena, Fawnia and Jamila Deville…
“This is the first time I’ve ever truly gone on record to state it, but I started pole dancing in a strip club in Emporia, Kansas…”
Irmingard first saw pole dancing at a film festival after-party. The women dancing seemed so strong and powerful. She was mesmerized. The dancers had sensuality and grace while being in control of their own bodies. She saw them and thought… I want to learn how to do that. Soon she looked up where she could take classes and has been pole dancing for 11 years.
Sheila Joy Burford fell in love with this new craft 8 years ago! Little did she know she would take it from a hobby of fun and fitness to actually performing.
Crystallionc started pole dancing ten years ago because of a culmination of life events. She was getting enervated by her day job and she always wanted to try a circus class. Having a hard time finding adult silks classes, Chrystal found a groupon for pole classes.
“I went on a blind date with pole dance expecting to like it, but not expecting the healthy long-term committed relationship it’s become. I am forever grateful to have found a community that provides such enormous camaraderie and support!”
Talia Jade Marinostarted poling in 2009 working in her first Cirque du Soleil show, Viva Elvis. She was required to learn pole dance as well as spins pole-a hinged pole apparatus with two hand loops where two acrobats would do pole and aerial tricks.
“It was intense for me since I had never pole danced ever in my life, but I was determined, and the rest is history.”
How long did you train for this performance?
Talia: I was training for 2 months. Johanna Sapakie, J-LO’s pole coach and choreographer could only be there for the first 2 days of rehearsals. So Johanna called me, as well as J-LO’s creative director Tabitha Dumo (aka Power couple Nappytabs), and asked me if I could come in and fill in for Johanna, almost as if I was Johanna’s assistant, since she was the lead for pole for this Super Bowl gig. I stood in for Jennifer for “Waiting for Tonight” as well as reviewed choreography and went over any pole tricks and skills she wished to review. We had about 10 days break for Christmas and New Year’s.
We were back on Jan 6th and Johanna and I started rehearsals a week prior to the other pole dancers joining the team- to work on pole combos and doubles pole work for the creative team. Although it evolved from the combos we created originally to what you saw at the Super Bowl which was all solo work, we wanted to be prepared and give Jennifer and her artistic team options to pick and choose. The rest of our pole team trained with us 3 weeks before the Super Bowl.
Were there any opportunities to get to rehearse as a group before game time? How much rehearsal time did you get with JLO?
What was your favorite pole move that you executed at the Super Bowl and why?
Egyptshari: You know it’s really funny because I’m going to answer this and people are going to think that I’m so basic, but I’ve been in the performance aspect of pole for so long that I understand the uneducated audience does not quite translate pole moves like an educated audience who is familiar with pole dance. Being an OG, it was all about the showmanship. For this show it was important for us to be at the top of the polls because there was a lot of action going on down below us. On top of that, we were asked to try to maintain a decent spin. Therefore, my favorite pole trick for this event was the Ballerina. It translates to any audience, educated or not, and it’s a pretty shape…
Irmingard: I did a move where I hooked my shin on the pole in an upright split. It’s one of my favorite moves that I have had years to work on perfecting. It’s a shape I can move comfortably in and out of and really enjoy without overthinking. In the performance it gave me a moment to breathe and look out at the scene in front of me to take it all in. I even got to look up and see fireworks being set off over the night sky. Really an incredible memory I will carry with me forever.
Sheila Joy Burford: I would have to say my favorite pole trick was cranking a good, old Machine Gun! The poles were LED So I enjoyed looking down and seeing the crowd go bananas!
Crystallionc:The Dragonfly/Libellula. Not only do I love the trick, but it also allowed me an opportunity to look around and take everything in! I would often catch eyes with Sheila, and we’d send each other ALL the energy. The move enabled me to absolutely live on that stage!!!
Talia: Hmmmmm, that is kind of hard for me however, I have not one but 3… Handspring because it is classic, up right Shaina Split because it keeps a nice tight spin since our poles swayed A LOT, and Martha split because it is interesting and you stay high on the pole. All of us pole dancers had to stay quite high, basically at the top of the pole, due to the dancers being right in front of us.
What was the energy like performing for over 60,000 people and an audience of 102 million?
Egyptshari: Before the Super Bowl, the largest audience I had ever performed for was the combined concert of Snoop Dogg and Wu-Tang up in the DMV area. It was an outside arena and the seating was vast, I remember walking to the stage and having my breath taken away in that moment.
However, when I walked into the stadium for the Super Bowl, I felt that same moment for literally a split second and then I felt completely overwhelmed with gratitude and amazement…. Kind of like somebody opened a floodgate of emotions and I almost couldn’t control it. Usually when I get nervous, the adrenaline is pumping through my veins so intensely that I’ll tremble or shake a bit. I get these nervous butterflies in my stomach and I have to close my eyes and take a deep breath to channel my energy in the right direction. But for this event-like I said I was completely overwhelmed with such positive emotion that I almost burst out into a full-blown, snotty nose ugly cry!!! Right before tears were about to fall from my eyes, I had a self-chat with myself and I said “Bitch! Pull it together!!! You cannot ruin this beautiful AF makeup!”