Twerkology Nation: empowering women through twerk

For today’s post I decided to interview Chanelle Hall, founder of Twerkology Nation, a London-based twerk class that empowers women through dance. 

Twerk is one of those things people have an opinion on. In my case, I never thought I could do it, or that it would me my ‘thing’ as a white metalhead who didn’t know who Drake was until last year. Then I became a pole dancer and it all changed. I didn’t only fall in love with dancing; through pole, I met incredible performers, dancers and teachers that inspire me everyday and that I’m introducing to you on this blog.

Chanelle is one of those people. We found each other on Instagram last summer, when I was about to make the move from Australia to Italy to finally move back to London. Initially I only thought I’d attend her classes at the London Dance Academy, but then I found out about Twerkology Nation’s story and I couldn’t help but share it.

<img src="chanellehalltwerkologynation.jpg" alt="Chanelle Hall from Twerkology Nation">
Picture by: Aidan Orange Photography

Chanelle, 30, is a singer, dancer, trained gymnastic coach and ex gymnast. She trained for musical theatre during college. She loved ballet but felt too curvy for it, out of place. “Dance was one of my strengths but I had no confidence in it. It’s funny how much thinks have changed changed!”

Twerkology Nation

Twerkology Nation was born in April 2016, when Chanelle auditioned to be a Twerk instructor for the London Dance Academy. Initially she was just meant to cover for absent teachers and to fill in gaps in the timetable, but LDA loved her style of teaching and offered her to teach her own class. “I focused more on the technique, on how to twerk and I broke it down so that’s where I made up the name Twerkology,” she says. “It was a nice shift, going from Chanelle to Miss Twerkology. Everyone knew me as a singer or a dancer, but twerking was a surprise when it started becoming popular on Instagram. I got reposts from artists such as Giggs, and got offered to feature in shows and music videos.”

Chanelle turned the music videos down and focused on her brand instead: she wanted to make Twerkology Nation a vehicle for women’s empowerment. “I was undergoing therapy for trauma and I used teaching twerk as a therapy to restore my sexual confidence, as I would have to create fun choreographies that made my students feel good. It naturally rubbed off on my style of teaching and how my dancing comes across.”

Twerkology Nation started growing from there. The class was covered in the Daily Star. Chanelle then worked with the Princes Trust to get more of a solid idea of turning her classes into a business. The last year, she says, has been a lot of trial and error. She has produced music videos and spoken at events for young girls. Yet, twerk is often misunderstood for a “tacky” type of dance.

Twerk

For Chanelle, current prejudice against twerk comes down to the way this type of dance is presented – the whole Miley thing, for instance. For her, twerking, like pole dancing or burlesque, is an art. She thinks the media sexualised it up to a point where it looks negative.

“It’s my culture: I’m Jamaican, I danced as a child moving my hips to rhythm and it wasn’t sexual. It was just the way we danced in the playground making up routines for fun. It comes from Africa and I feel it became overly sexualised and its meaning has been lost.

Initally, twerk was just Chanelle’s “little party trick” to surprise friends, but her company has grown to make her proud. She now books some of her students (ahem) for jobs like music videos. “My favourite thing is working with my students and watching their confidence grow. I love seeing the technique I teach expressed with their body. Everyone has a different style and it’s nice to see that and see them supporting me. That to me is so amazing because I think of the time at the very beginning when I had only two students coming to my class and how it’s grown now!”

These last 18 months have been an amazing journey with teaching @londondanceacademy “Twerk and Grind”. At first I didn’t know if I could keep it up I felt quite defeated with certain circumstances however my students kept me going. I learnt that my class was more than just classes, the birth of “Twerkology” a name I just made up now a company supporting women, abused women. It was always encouraging hearing the stories from the women who travel near and far to come to my classes for different personal touching reasoning; confidence building, depression, divorce, anxiety, low self esteem or to simply learn to Twerk!! I’m excited for the FUTURE!! . MAAAASSSSIVE THANK YOU TO @fumzgop on the camera!!! . @myaplanet9 & @sisqo “It’s all about me” . #dance #dancers #dancing #worldofdance #aliyajanell #geasy #cardib #bardi #nolimit #choreography #hiphop #heels #choreo #talent #lit #fire #choreo #epic #boss #worldofdance #nbcworldofdance #sytycd #dwts #danceon #twerkthatass #twerkqueen #twerkologynation #mya #sisqo #90s

A post shared by TwerkologyNation® (@twerkologynation) on

Twerkology Nation’s Future

I really recommend attending one of her classes, especially if you’re one of those people who says they can’t twerk. Chanelle won’t take that for an answer: “It’s not easy but change the word ‘can’t’ to ‘try’. I had the flattest feet ever for ballet but I did the exercises and now I have an arch and a little pointe. It’s the same with twerk: if your hips are stiff, stretch, and it’ll work.”

Chanelle is currently working to continue building her brand. She has now taken a step back from teaching full-time and she is studying Psychosocial Studies and the Principles of Psychodynamic Counselling, in the hope the course will add to her plan to use twerk as a therapy to make women feel good.

You can follow her on Insta at @twerkologynation. She now has a brand new class every Thursday starting on the 22nd of February at 7pm at the brand-new Base Dance Studios. She is also teaching a workshop for Womens’ International week on the 10th of March at London Dance Academy – and I sure won’t miss that one!

<img src="twerkologynationposter.jpg" alt="Twerkology Nation Poster">

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