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A Chat with Coloring Book Honoree Rudolf van Jaarsveldt

Continuing our short saga of interviews with dancers who inspired the coloring pages of Pole Shapes, I'd like to introduce you to Rudolf van Jaarsveldt, a plant-powered South African poler from the beautiful city of Cape Town. I have to admit I'm a little jealous that he can go to Kirstenbosch any time he likes (although maybe not so much now with Covid). Rudolf tells us about his creative process, his penchant for wearing mismatched socks, and the perks of living with a pole dance instructor—he even shares some photos of his cats! So many wins!

Some portions edited for clarity and brevity.

Photo credit: Coert Venter

View a performance by Rudolf van Jaarsveldt here

How did you get into pole and how long have you been practicing? My partner introduced me to pole when we first met and I was hooked. It has been about 3 years now (I've had a little break here and there).

What's surprised you most about it?

The fact that is was not as easy as it looks. I mean pffft what is so hard about doing a Jade? And the fact that it is recognised as a sport!

"My creative process always starts with the music. I must feel and hear the music."

Has it changed your relationship to your body?

Yes. I have always been very negative about my body (and still am) but it has taught me to listen to my body, to respect it, and that I'm stronger than I think I am. 

You're based in Cape Town, right? What's the community like there?

The Cape Town community is a very supportive community. I have met people from various studios and they are all very positive towards one another. Yes, you get your occasional rivalry, but that is expected in such a competitive field. I also find the community to be very experienced and each one has something different to offer!

Have you visited studios in other parts of the world?

I have only been to one in Phuket (Nai Harn Pole Dance with the incredible @daripoledance) and it was AMAZING. The plan is to do more traveling and then to visit other parts of the world. I am also on a mission to go to all the studios here in Cape Town at least once!

How has pole challenged you creatively?

I like to move and it has challenged me to look at various styles of dance and then to try to stitch them together. Also it has challenged me to get moves to flow into each other while still making it look pretty and effortless.

What's your creative process like when you're building a routine?

My creative process always starts with the music. I must feel and hear the music. I like free movements. The next step is to identify what is pretty and can fit nicely into the flow of the music. If I am entering a competition (amateur) I will look at the scoring of moves as well. But most importantly I link the music to a story that I am trying to tell! We can show so much through movement and I think it is important!

"My hope is that we are heading towards a community that is recognised for the diversity that it has."

What's your pole dance superpower?

I can drop into a front split! It is also my party trick! 

What goals are you working towards?

I am working towards my Ayesha/Handspring - I know it is going to take some time to get there, but that is the move that I want to do the most. I am also working towards competing in our national competitions when COVID-19 allows us again.

It's cool that your partner is into pole too! I'm always trying to rope my husband in. What's it like, having a live-in pole buddy?

He is an instructor so I have advice 24/7 should I want it! He is also very good at breaking down moves my brain can't get! He is very supportive and I can always count on him to be honest. He adapts stuff for my level, which is great!

Who inspires you?

Ah the dreaded question. I look up to or find inspiration from so many people that it is hard to name them. I try to find something in all people I meet. In the pole community I look up to my instructors, who show me that nothing is impossible with hard work and dedication.

What's the future you hope to see for the pole community?

My hope is that we are heading towards a community that is recognised for the diversity that it has. There are so many forms.

I would hope that pole gets the recognition and accreditation that it needs—whether it is in the olympics or just the destigmatisation of the art form—I would be happy with this.

Another hope that I have is that compassion for the art keeps on growing. It is important that we support the community and other pole or aerial studios out there - especially in this difficult time.

My last hope is that we will continue to fight for the positive body movement, being accepting and welcoming to all body shapes and sizes etc.

Other than pole dancing, what fills up your time?

Work, some sport (a traditional South African sport named Jukskei), my partner and 3 cats!

Have you colored yourself in yet?

I have indeed and it was so much fun! I tell everyone I meet that I have a colouring picture of myself! 

You can switch the sounds of any two animals. Which animal sounds do you switch?

Oooo I would switch a cow with a cat... 

Rudolf's adorable trio of rescue cats

Is there anything else you'd like people to know about you? I don't wear matching socks. I also ride a motorcycle. Oh, and how do you know someone is vegan? They tell you! ...yup, I am vegan.

You can follow Rudolf on Instagram @rudolfwindell

If you're feeling lazy, just click here

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