Our new instructor is more than a little amazing. She is a Penthouse Pet, Hustler Honey and award-winning striptease artist. Beginning her career as a podium dancer at the old Dancers Cabaret in Kings Cross, she went on to tour Australia as a feature showgirl. She modelled at the World Bodypainting Festival in Austria, was an art muse at Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School Tokyo, taught pole dancing workshops in Stockholm, performed in drag at the Amsterdam Burlesque Festival, judged Miss Pole Dance Bavaria in Germany, hung from trapeze at Auckland Erotica Expo, and undressed at the Adelaide Fringe Festival.
In addition to her many awards and accolades, Zahra Stardust is a passionate and caring teacher. With years of experience in teaching pole, as well as her training in aerials and acro, we are so excited to welcome this mystical mermaid to the Sky Sirens team! Read on to learn more about the amazing Zahra Stardust.
Interviewed by Eva Devore
How long have you been dancing and how did you start in pole?
I started table dancing when I was twenty because I wanted to learn a new skill. I moved from clubs into stage shows, private parties and competitions. I mostly loved the dress ups!
I first learnt pole from Bobbi when she would come into the clubs offering free lunchtime lessons to dancers. A few years later Suzie Q asked me to teach at her pole studio, and I taught there and at Madonna’s gym Hard Candy for about six years. I taught workshops in Japan, Germany and New Zealand and loved seeing the different styles internationally.
How long have you been teaching at Sky Sirens and which styles do you teach?
I am about to start my first mini-term at Sky Sirens next week! I’ll be teaching Bend and Lap where we will be learning a cute striptease routine to Santa Baby. If you need a present for your loved ones with a low environmental footprint, a lap dance is a gift that keeps on giving! Next year I will be teaching pole, lyra and hopefully sling! I’m most excited about lyra – I am totally in love with that apparatus. I learnt trapeze for a long time and it’s exciting to have a new medium with new tricks! How would you describe your dance and performance style? I love being upside down and feeling strong. My favourite moves on the pole are the static V and jackknife. I like fast transitions, fluid movements, tricks that need upper body strength and just feeling the music – I love to freestyle. I think the best shows hit musical accents and time their big moves with the chorus. I like to connect with audiences and just enjoy myself onstage. People tell me I smile a lot when I perform!
What advice to you like to give to your students?
Dancing is about finding your individual style and owning it. I couldn’t touch my toes when I started and definitely couldn’t dance! Sometimes students worry about not being strong or flexy enough to get certain tricks, but it shouldn’t be a deterrence to starting because we learn by doing – we need those tricks deep in your muscle memory. Conditioning can be super fun (sweat is sexy!), and your body is capable of extraordinary things. All bodies are beautiful - you should wear whatever makes you feel fierce, sassy and yourself. When in doubt, body roll!
What do you do when you’re not being a Siren?
I’m currently finishing my PhD on queer and feminist pornography, so I’m spending a lot of time in my pyjamas on my laptop! I also work in policy and research on human rights and am about to start a podcast called Thinking Justice. Much of my work is about sex worker rights, LGBTIQ health, animal liberation and supporting women exiting prison. I’m into DIY decorating and just painted my entire kitchen rainbow!
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’ve been lucky to travel a lot. I have backpacked around South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and even did a brief stint with the UN in Eritrea on sexual and reproductive health. When I finish studying I am planning a trip to Central America because I really want to learn Spanish in Guatemala and go to Mexico to visit Frida Kahlo’s house! I would also love to see orangutans in Borneo.
What does this term hold for you?
More training on the lyra, more bruises (no doubt), and getting cosy in the gorgeous new studios downstairs. A few months ago my partner and I started learning acrobalance, and we are excited we will be performing an acro show at the next Glory Box! Please cheer, even if I fall on my face!