Namibian acrobatic pole dancers, Sonja Keil and Charlie de Bortoli, have elevated their extreme pole dancing routine to international status.
They have been chosen as the only act of its kind to participate in the World Performing Arts Championships in Los Angeles [LA] , United States of America [USA] on July 2. The duo first made their debut at the 2016 Carnival of Flames Extravaganza in Swakopmund, when in skimpy costumes mesmerised a large audience with their graceful and acrobatic double dance routine using a metal pole as support. Since then these two incredibly talented artists, have gone from strength to strength performing shows around the country, amongst others at the WIKA Carnival.
They are also the first Namibian Pole Dance Doubles to compete in the [USA] Pole Dance Competition, coming first in the doubles category. They then went on to compete in the Namibian Championship of Performing Arts last year, winning an invitation to [LA] this July, as the only represented pole dancers from hundreds of different acts around the world.
Their 13-day trip will include boot camps, workshops, modelling and shows and because they are the only pole dancers chosen to participate, Sonja and Charlie will be teamed up with invited acrobatic circus acts, which is the first time this category has been opened. Preparation and practise is high up on their agenda, with costumes and routines being perfected. They will be performing in six acts with Sonja doing three solos, as well as a duo performances. But performing aside, both girls have an impressive CV and are unique artists and professionals in their own right. Sonja studied drama and dancing, group fitness training, personal training and yoga for six years in Cape Town, and started with pole dancing in her second year to “try something new and exciting”.
“I fell in love with pole dancing immediately and it was really amazing performing at different events and showing people the beauty of pole dancing,” says Sonja. “I want every woman to try pole dancing at least once in their lives, just for them to find out how absolutely beautiful and strong we can be.” Sonja also worked as an instructor for five years in a Cape Town pole dance studio, then spread her wings to Australia, to further embark on more pole dance training, which resulted in her opening up her own Pole Dance Fitness Studio in Swakopmund.
Charlie is one of the few Namibian women with a black-belt in Karate. She also takes part in regular fire spinning shows, performing for international tourists in exotic desert locations, as well as corporate events. She is a mom, and put herself through accounting studies, which is her day job.
The two together are a formidable team, which they say is “built on trust”. Their routine is so skilled, controlled and technical that one slip of the hand, whilst the one is hanging upside down on a thin pole in an intricate position – could cause an injury.
Meanwhile, their fund raising efforts for N$150 000 travelling cost is continuing with all sorts of initiatives. So far they have raised N$77 000, and with just weeks away, they are getting into high gear.