Teen Pole Queen and our 2011 Miss Pole Dance
These days, people can’t strike a conversation about pole dancing in the UK without naming ‘Jess Leanne Norris‘ straight from the off, whether you are in the industry, a newbie learner, or even just Joe public. Why??? Well, she is this year’s Miss Pole Dance UK, a phenomenal pole artist, has had an extensive amount of media coverage in the last year, set up two pole studios after just 3 years of pole dance experience under her belt …. yeah yeah yeah …. this is all very impressive but did I mention that Jess is JUST 18 years old?!
Truly Jess is an exceptional pole dancer but she’s not only that, she achieved an extraordinary accomplishments in such a short space of time for someone of her young years.
To meet, Jess is a typical but sweet hometown girl from Bolton in Lancashire, but DON’T BE FOOLED, Jess is as strong and determined as any I have ever met, she is NOT just a sweet little hometown girl – she is an ambitious athlete, an inspiration to young women all over Britain, and she’s here to take over the World!
I met her recently after attending a masterclass, where she found some time at the end of the class to talk to me…
Candy & Chrome’s Interview with Jess Leanne Norris
Tiny: Hi Jess. So … You know what my first question always is right? But for once I don’t need to even ask because your age is very well documented already. So, at just 18 years old, you won the Miss Pole Dance UK competition, what sort of impact do you think this has had on the UK pole industry?
JLN: I think, just because I am so young to be in pole, it has had an impact on a new generation of younger pole dancers, and being an influence to getting kids into pole – from a fitness perspective. So because I started at such a young age myself, I was only 14 when I started pole fitness I think this will encourage others of similar age to try pole fitness too.
[quote float=”left”]There’s been a bit of a mix of reactions, there have been some jealous folk and some people have not really been too encouraging[/quote]Tiny: How have people in pole treated you? Do you think you are treated differently because of your young years?
JLN: There’s been a bit of a mix of reactions, there have been some jealous folk and some people have not really been too encouraging by not saying much, but I have also had a lot of support as well but I think overall more people have tried to help me coz ‘she’s only young’, which has been really nice.
Tiny: So, back to the beginning, you are ballet, tap, street and modern dance trained since childhood yes? Do you think this has given you an advantage when learning pole dance?
JLN: It’s helped me a lot with posture, pointing my toes, getting the extensions and the clean lines in my moves.
Tiny: So doing this throughout childhood, did you gain any qualifications to teach dance?
JLN: No, I did ballet up to 9 years old, so I got through little gradings, but no formal qualifications.
Tiny: Oh right well I don’t really know anything about ballet – did you get to some sort of graded standard as a student? Something like that?
JLN: No, just basics.
Tiny: I can read that you bought your first X-Pole in 2008 – what prompted that?
JLN: Well, me and my Mum were looking together for a new hobby, yunno just something fun and active so that we could spend time together and we saw a Felix Cane video from her Miss Pole Dance Australia 2006 winning routine and I was just wowed! So my Mum said right then, we had better just get a pole and give it a go then! So we got one and started messing about for the first few months but then we started to learn over the internet.
Tiny: Your claims are that you are completely self taught – How on earth have you managed to reach the standard you are at without professional tuition?
JLN: I am self taught yes and erm…. I kept it fun really, I enjoy it so much and that keeps me going, as much as I could to get my strength up. And determination! Within 8 months I started teaching. Teaching students meant that I had to keep myself a level above them, so that kept my progression going. And then my aim was to be Miss UK, so I had to work hard for that.
Tiny: Would you recommend this to others new to pole? Or is your opinion different now that you teach?
JLN: Well … I think it is perfectly fine, I can’t say that it isn’t because that’s how I learned myself so I now can’t say ‘You must go to classes’ because I didn’t, so you CAN do it on your on but you have got to be so careful, plus I never did it by myself I always had either my Mum or Dad there to spot me, so I definitely wouldn’t suggest doing it on your own – with the harder stuff you should have someone with you.
Tiny: Do you EVER suffer from plateau? If so, how do you beat it?
JLN: No. Once you learn a new move it does hurt that area of skin but you kinda get used to it.
Tiny: How have you been able to progress so quickly – what’s the secret?
JLN: Yeah I have been doing it 3 and a half years now, it has been quick …. Erm, just doing it all the time, a lot of people who start classes just doing the once a week, but I was on it all the time.
I also do Thai boxing, so that helped me keep my energy levels and strength up as well as my definition.
Tiny: Who inspires you in pole?
JLN: Felix Cane from day 1, but now a lot of the time I look up to Dominic Lacasse, strength wise I want to be able to do what he is doing now, I watch him a lot.
Tiny: Plus, he’s hot! So what was your original training regime like back in the day? And now?
JLN: Every night. I did it to spend time with my Mum, and my brothers too – every now and then they will have a play on it (Jess has two younger brothers), so as soon as I came home from school I’d whip the pole gear on and get straight to it until I had to go to bed every night. And as for now, I teach every day and I’d say I train myself three or four times a week, could be for a couple of hours each time I train.
[quote float=”left”]As soon as I came home from school I’d whip the pole gear on and get straight to it until I had to go to bed[/quote]
Tiny: How many classes a week do you personally teach?
JLN: Erm …. (Jess thinks hard!) Could be about 14 classes a week I think, with private 121’s and groups etc between the two studios. So that’s evenings, weekends, whatever I love teaching and training – it’s all fun!
Tiny: I see you are very pro-actively promoting pole FITNESS, what is your background in fitness?
JLN: Just pole and Thai boxing, that’s what my life revolves around now. I have been doing the Thai boxing a year and a half now so I have been doing that a long time too.
Tiny: Ok, so are you thinking about studying for your ETM sometime soon maybe? Or something else like that?
JLN: No. But I do have an instructor training qualification launching in the new year for instructors. No official date set yet.
Tiny: Where do you think your strengths lie? Teaching, performing, running your business, or other?
JLN: I do a lot of both teaching and performing every week. Hmmm… I love teaching I do, seeing people achieve new moves reminds me of how I feel when I get a new move, which puts a smile on my face every day.
Tiny: What are your weaknesses?
JLN: My nerves. Confidence needs to go on the up I think but I guess everyone gets nervous and it keeps the adrenalin going so it’s probably good anyway but the sweaty hands I could do without.
Tiny: I can also see maturity in your business acumen too – you seem to be making smart business choices for someone of your years which is so good to see …are you managed or do you have a business mentor? Or is it all you?
JLN: Well, we kinda work as a team back at home. My Dad does the store and my Mum does a lot of stuff behind the scenes, it is like a family business.
Tiny: What have been the effects of your recent media coverage regarding teaching youngsters? The good, the bad, AND the ugly!
JLN: Hmmm yeah we had a lot of negative feedback about that when it went into the papers but we recently had an article in a magazine that was really good and positive, we got picture of the kids in the magazine too, so that’s been good and it’s getting more positive and I have had plenty of emails and texts from people who have read it. So it’s going in the right direction now but yeah at first the papers liked to say ‘kids pole dancing’ a lot, it’s not dancing, it’s fitness so they weren’t telling the truth.
Tiny: Tell us about UK Pole Artistes championships – will it be back again? Was it a success? What will be different next time?
JLN: It is going to be back, bigger and better. This year was such a success for it’s first year running, I didn’t expect the amount of people who wanted to join in, it just all went fantastic, and every single routine performed they put their all into it. Next year we will do video entries as well.
Tiny: What are you big plans for the future?
JLN: My next aim is to get the Miss World title, do some international competitions, getting plenty more JLN’s across the country hopefully, we have already got the instructor training course coming up.
Tiny: Well, I have no doubt that you will have the Miss World title before you’re through but the question is …. when!? When do you think you will win it at a guess? In a few years? Or do you think you could be ready sooner?
JLN: I don’t know, I’ve got plenty of years to try but I do WANT it for next year! I am really focussed, that IS my aim really – this year I wanted Miss UK which was amazing to achieve but than I also did an American competition in between that and the Worlds which is why I think I didn’t do so well – I think I put too much pressure on myself. Miss UK was my main focus this year so now it’s the Worlds and I will put my all into it.