Introducing someone to pole dance for the first time and teaching them the art form is
always so much fun, especially someone as athletic and physically capable as JLo!
However, what made this job so exciting was the combination of so many of my skill
sets into one project. This job wasn’t only about pole dancing. From the very first day
we started working together, we were always discussing how her character in the film
would move and how to use the pole dancing to help the audience truly understand who
she is in this story.
Because we only had a few months to get her ready for the role, I
had to be very efficient with our training process. Approaching the job from the
perspective of ‘character’ really allowed me to streamline and pinpoint what she needed
to learn in order to transform for the film. Jennifer is an incredibly busy woman,
balancing her TV shows, music career, film career and family life (Hello? She got
engaged during the time we were working together!!!) so we had limited hours to train.
I had to be very strategic and always in my mind was the idea of what movement would
look best on camera and be the most useful for each pole dancing scene. The world
knows JLo as a phenomenal mover, dancer and performer so we knew her transition to
pole dancing would have to be equally as strong. Her dedication and focus on
perfection are amazing and she definitely put the hard work in to pick up this brand new
Determination is the Key
It was very important to her, and to myself as her coach, that she didn’t just learn
how to do some pole moves, but that she could be absolutely confident and dominating
in her presence on screen. She said in interviews and many times in conversations that
pole dancing is one of the hardest things she has ever had to learn in her career!
Coming from a woman with a work ethic as exceptional as Jennifer’s, that is quite the
testament to all the polers out there. She fully recognized how much effort goes into
doing what we do and said she has a new-found respect for pole dancing. She also
became intimately familiar with ‘pole kisses’, aka pole bruises, and definitely got her fair
But it was all worth it because what she was able to accomplish in such a short
amount of time was truly remarkable! When it came time for filming, Jennifer Lopez
absolutely nailed her pole scenes (including her outside leg hangs!). I was so very
proud to have guided her on this journey into the world of pole dance and I cannot wait
for everyone to see her fly!
Look out for Hustlers, coming to theaters this fall.
Love - Johanna Sapakie