Going to a (virtual or offline) twerk class can be daunting for complete beginners – and I was bad when I first started in 2016. Four years and an instructor training certification later, I wanted to help beginners with twerk tips to get started. And who else should I ask if not Torwa Joe aka Fiya Starta, the founder of Atlanta-based pole studio Vertical Joe’s and of the Twerk Technicians certification I took in June 2020? Read on for her twerk tips for complete beginners.
Vertical Joe’s Twerk Technician Training
Joe launched the Twerk Technician training because she became really busy with performance and artist work while still teaching, so she had to train people to teach for her. She says: “We have names for everything, we have a technique for how we teach it, that way everybody gets the same experience.” The company wanted to share the art and share the skill correctly. Joe says:
“We noticed a lot of people had started teaching twerk or were appropriating twerk and had no idea of its background or history. It was just something cute to do for them, where for us it’s bigger than that: it’s a style of dance, and it has history and roots, and everyone who is doing it or thriving off of it – we want them to have that same history, and to show homage and respect for it.”
Read more about twerk and cultural appropriation in my long form interview with Joe here.
Joe also noticed that a lot of people were twerking and looking funny – “Like, her shoulder should not be involved in twerk! Her form looks crazy! She’s terribly off the beat!” – so Vertical Joe’s felt that if no one is offering to further educate people, they’re not going to learn.
“For us, twerk is for everybody, so I find it very important to share it with everyone and give people the background and the details, and how to do things properly, so we decided to launch the Twerk Technicians program really for that reason.”
Vertical Joe’s Advice For Twerk Beginners
Joe famously said: “If you have a crack, you can make it clap.” But a lot of people feel like – either because of their shape, coordination or skills – twerk is off-limits for them.
#1 Start with the basic moves
“Anyone can do this. We have 5 basics: saltshaker, throwback, wiggle, whine and shimmy. You’re going to be able to do at least one of these moves with confidence! Once you find that move, we just give you more moves that are related to that and you stick with that until you get good at the other stuff.”
#2 Find eight twerk moves that you like
Joe also recommends finding eight twerks that you like, and then continuing to work them because we all gotta start somewhere!
#3 Find a twerker that looks like you and copy them
“There’s going to be someone that kind of looks like you, built like you, body like you that can twerk – so look at those people and pay attention to the twerks that they’re doing and they’re using and see if you can start to mimic them, and you’ll be great in no time!”
#4 Don’t be intimidated by your shape or size
Twerk seems really size inclusive, but a lot of people say: “I don’t have a butt, I can’t twerk.” Joe doesn’t agree.
“I do think that some people may have to work a little harder, but I cannot say that just ’cause you have a big but that you’re guaranteed to be a good twerker. Let me tell you, some of the worst twerkers I know have big old booties, and it’s like, girl you got all of that and you can’t shake? And then some of the most skilled twerkers I know don’t have a lot of butt, you’re like, oh wow: you really have not a whole lot back there, but you are giving it to us!”
#5 Wear the right clothes and show off
If you’re not seeing movement, Joe recommends putting on some shorts or a thong and shaking, jiggling and moving way more aggressively than someone who has a lot more butt – just make sure that you practice and you enjoy it. And work on those power moves! “Find you a split, find you a flip, find you a foot behind your head, find you a back arch, so we don’t know what hit us!”
Links and info:
- Follow @twerktechnicians on Instagram
- Follow @verticaljoes on Instagram
- Follow @vjsfiyastarta on Instagram
- Sign up for a Twerk Technicians cert here
- Read my long form interview with Joe about twerk and cultural appropriation here.
- Get my Absolute Beginners workshop here.