If I would have to describe Nadia Sharif in two words, I would think ‘fun’ and ‘wild’. And I do not even know her personally. Nadia’s choreographies always seem so easy and she looks as if she is having the most fun on stage. Nadia does not seem to take herself too seriously. Instead, she wears high heels that seem higher than herself, wild hairstyles and exotic outfits. Her Pole style is influenced by different sports and defends itself strongly against any category.
Nadia Sharif has started in Pole Dancing in 2007 after she saw Felix Cane on YouTube. Already six months later, Nadia participated in her first Pole competition. She did not win it, but she was hired directly as a Pole instructor. Today, Nadia has gathered titles in countless Pole championships and is a proud brand ambassador of Bad Kitty.
In this interview Nadia has answered 11 questions and tells us, among other things, why you do not need self-confidence to rock the stage, which was her biggest blooper on stage, that nobody noticed, and how to come up with a Pole trick through pure physics. Have fun reading!
Nadia, you really do not seem to fear the stage. How come that you decided after only 6 months of Pole training to compete?
I have always loved the stage! Any stage, didn’t have to be a proper stage with lights, it could just be a living room where people want to watch. I decided to compete after only 6 months of pole training because I had nothing to lose. I wanted to throw myself into the scene in any way I could. At the time I was already working at Jumbos Clown Room, a bikini bar in Hollywood that is still my favorite place on earth, so people watching me didn’t freak me out. If anything I fear the stage more these days because I feel like people are expecting something crazy from me!
- Does one need to be self-confident to conquer the stage? How do you prepare for a competition or a public performance in general?
I don’t know that one needs to be super confident in day to day life to conquer the stage. I believe that we become something else while on stage, so creating a confident alter ego is good enough. The way I prepare for a performance is I try to practice as much as possible so that I don’t have to think at all and I can just live. I’m a freak about it, I’ll be obsessed, it’ll keep me up at night, I over think it and when my back is up against the wall I somehow pull it together. I can’t say this for EVERY performance I’ve ever done. Many times I’ve had to just wing it since I tour and travel a lot and training doesn’t happen as often as needed while on the road. But when I really know a major performance is happening, I will change my schedule to make the training happen… As I’m doing now for Miss Pole Dance America!
- Did you ever have a major blooper nobody seemed to notice? What was it and how did you deal with it?
Hahaha, I’ll never forget this one. I was competing at Nationals for USPDF and I had practiced the shit out of my routine. I totally missed my own signature trick, elbow grip to cup grip handspring that I always have called “the Chinese Pop”, and that had NEVER happened before (or after) that day. I was shocked that my feet were on the floor, kept my face together, felt the music and went into another signature handspring shape like nothing happened. It was noticeable but no one was as bothered by it as I was.
- Your start into the Pole Dance world sounds hilarious, but also a little frightening. You installed a Pole from IKEA that was not a Pole and trained yourself via YouTube. When I think back to the way I trained 4 years ago, I too, am glad that I am still alive (and able to walk). What is one of the worst things you did back then that makes you cringe reflecting on it now?
This list could go on and on and on, but the worst was my climbing techniques, I didn’t know how to use my legs properly so I refused to do leg hangs and only wanted to do a butterfly. Terrible extension, no pointed feet, didn’t hit straddles in invert. Wow, I mean an utter mess!
- As a Pole instructor, what is the most common mistake that your Pole students do and what do you always advise them to do?
I see A LOT of students of all levels from all over world, and the biggest mistake would be rushing through movements, not reaching full extension, not waiting for natural rotation, not spending time to master the basics before trying the crazy shit. I give them examples of pole 101 moves that are still used by bad asses like Marlo and Oona, something like a “step around” or “around the world” and how these basics are necessities and what separates a good pole dancer from a great pole dancer. I also give them example stories, like for example… You’re with all your friends, you go out to a bar, you see a pole, your friends know you have been taking pole classes, what are you going to do? That crazy hard move you can barely do? You have no dry hands and you’re wearing a lot of clothes. Just DANCE! Simple steps, spins maybe if you are feeling crazy a clean invert slide down, but do it with style and flavor!
- You are known for your incredibly high heels. How can we learn to walk and to Pole dance on such high shoes and maybe one day even feel comfortable and secure? Is there a move you would never dare with High Heels on?
The high heels are only very scary on the floor. Walking is by far the scariest thing I do in them. Once you’re on the pole all your dealing with is extra weight, so consider it just conditioning. I’m not sure I feel comfortable and secure in them, but they get less shady over time. They are pretty dangerous and difficult but oh so fun lol!!
- You said you developed the Chinese phoenix through bare physics. How exactly does that work? Did you literally sit down to a desk and make up a move? How do you create new moves and how do you make sure that you creativity continues flowing?
I was actually driving to the studio and I wanted to do a Phoenix so bad but twisted grip has always made me feel uncomfortable. I love cup grip handsprings but there wasn’t a Phoenix for that yet. I wasn’t really strong enough to dead lift my cup grip handspring at the time, so I thought I needed to learn how to spin it to help get my ass up. The hand drop mid spin seemed shady and I wasn’t sure if I could do it, I knew I had to be quick and stay tight. Walked into the studio and told my coach the whole idea. She said “I don’t know about dropping that inside hand”. That was the part we weren’t sure of, so I just decided to try it and it literally worked the first time. That is probably the only time a trick actually worked out how it should on the first try! There was a point in time where I was creating a lot of unique skills, I think that came from being self taught and spending a LOT of time just playing and once people starting noticing me it was them that told me how unique my style and skill set was. Then there was a time when nothing I did was new, I didn’t feel creative, I didn’t want to push myself, I just wanted to roll around and I spent a couple years rolling, playing with different floor skills and now I feel creative again. Taking classes in other movement forms is the best way to twist what you normally do, so even if it’s not new to the world, it’s new to you or possibly a new style or new approach to an average move. It’s a never ending process.
- How does a typical week in the life of a professional Pole Dancer look like?
This varies A LOT! If I’m on tour a week could mean I see 3-6 countries, constantly on and off airplanes, trains, buses, taxis, in and out of studios, see a lot of new faces and teach a ton! However, right now I’m at home in training mode, so I work a couple days a week and spend my off time preparing for MPDA. So at the moment, I’m in the studio 4-6 days a week and I’m really focusing on a particular piece. If I was not preparing for competition I would be spending more time doing other things like break dancing, capoeira, rolling on the floor, handstands, aerial and whatever else I felt like training.
- You are very flexible. How did you get there and what is your method?
This is an illusion lol. Many of my joints have very limited mobility like my elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles. My shoulders require a tremendous amount of constant upkeep and I would describe them as “high maintenance”. I have a couple gifts that were granted to me from birth, such as a good primal squat, available back bend (which is slowly leaving me with age) and a mobile rib cage. I try to highlight my gifts and have worked very hard for my splits. Through years of pole practice I have grown very comfortable in certain postures which allows me to focus on my extension. It’s really difficult, even for bendy people, to reach full extension without a significant amount of pole training.
- What are your favorite Pole wear and Pole heel brands?
This is a very easy question for me. I am a brand ambassador for Bad Kitty and have been since 2012. I love their clothing, especially Pole Fit, but more importantly, I think of them as family. I could call them for business advice, stop by for a visit, enjoy mimosas and consider them close friends. My favorite shoes are Pleasers, they have a great variety and Bad Kitty sells them on their site so it’s a win-win :)
- What are your plans for the future?
My future plans are to learn and grow as much as possible. The older I get the more I realize I can’t just keep pole dancing forever, especially with the way I pole dance. I have plans to spend as much time as I can learning different forms of movement like martial arts, capoeira, yoga, breakdancing, hand balancing, and cultural dances. I am finding inspiration by the earth, the ground, physics, how the mind works, mechanics, blending science and art and noticing things that I never did before. I want to absorb and then share. That is my plan.
Thank you so much, Nadia, for taking your time! xxx