PART OF MY JOB IS CONSTANTLY HUNTING FOR PEOPLE OF INTEREST. I TRY PRETTY HARD TO DISCOVER TALENTS OF ALL SHAPES, AGES AND TYPES. ART AND CULTURE IS SHAPED BY THE PEOPLE THAT MAKE THESE CREATIVE EFFORTS AND NEWCASTLE IS FULL OF THEM. TWERKING WASN’T REALLY ON MY RADAR UNTIL NICOLE POPPED UP IN MY INSTAGRAM FEED AND HER TALENT WAS MESMERISING. FEELING LIKE THERE WAS PROBABLY A GOOD STORY BEHIND THIS SKILL I ASKED HER TO MEET.
Sitting on Darby Street one morning, Nicole Marie spared a moment for me to explain what Twerking is, how it works and how to get involved. I promise you will want to look her up by the end of this article.
I've been following you on Instagram for a little while. I was looking for a bit of an explanation as to who you are and what you do.
I was a jazz dancer for 10 years, for most of my life. I started about 12, just a student, did jazz dancing throughout Newcastle eisteddfods, troupe, that sort of thing.
I stopped dancing in my mid-twenties. Got married, had two little boys. So, stopped dancing for a good 8 years and after my second son was about 2 years old, I started to feel like me again, if that's a good way to say it. I don't know if you've got children but it's tiring.
Anyway, I came across twerking. I guess I found a girl by the name of Lexie Panterra that I just came across on the internet.
Yeah, exactly. I'm like, "Oh, she's twerking? Awesome." It's something that wasn't really even I guess done in Australia, like ever. I'd never seen it done before anyway and I'm like, "I think I need to get into this."
Anyway, I did some twerkshops in Australia, trained up over the past - I'd say it was 2015/2016. Did some twerkshops, did some training with a lady in Melbourne that teaches twerk and also a young girl in Sydney that teaches twerk. Trained up, then started teaching twerk.
The reason I wanted to do it was because it specifically targeted the muscles that weakened you in pregnancy because basically it's a movement that isolates from your waist down. So, you're only moving from your waist down and once you've had kids, that's what you need to work on after you've had them to get back to feeling good again, if you know what I mean. So, it specifically targets your core strength.
It's a bit cheeky, a bit sexy which is good. It's good fun. When you're in your thirties and that - as I say, I don’t want to do dancing to go have a concert at the end of the year. It's just more about doing something with the girls, having a bit of fun in class but also keeping really fit.
It's heaps of fun. We get girls that come in and they're a little bit guarded at first. "Oh, what's this about?" Then break them down after that first half an hour, make them feel comfortable, and they're really comfortable by the end.
Even with my courses, I've got girls that come in. They’re quite covered up but then by the end, they learn the reason I wear booty shorts is, so I can actually see what the muscles are doing. I actually want to see what your bum muscles are doing. You know what I mean? I don't want to hide them.
Yeah, is it working? Am I doing this right?
Exactly. It's about actually finding your jiggle.
It's just a short course, 4 - 6 weeks depending on how I want to structure it. Come in just once a week, an hour and a half. Warm up, stretch your full body and then basically I teach them all the base twerk moves. There's lot of terminology: pop, drop, wobble, bounce, shake. I'll just name a few. Booty isolation and I just go through them nice and slowly and we work on those movements. They kind of start out a bit unsure and then usually by the end of it, they can get quite good at it.
You only do workshops?
Yeah, basically. I do workshops, either one off workshops - just one to know what twerking is, what's it about and learn that base move of rocking your booty forwards and backwards.
every Tuesday night. I call it Twerk Tuesday because that’s when I can hire the studio. I've always done it on a Tuesday night because that's when it suits me.
Do you do that at different times on a Tuesday night?
Yes, that's right. Different times on a Tuesday night.
You shift from beginner to more advanced?
That's right, exactly.
I have done big hen's parties and that sort of thing so it's heaps of fun.
Right, so that's another reason why someone might contact you.
Definitely, yeah. Hen's parties, girls’ nights out.
That would be a good laugh.
Oh, it's so much fun.
I blast the music up in class and we do lots of RNB, the latest tracks and stuff and it has to have a specific beat, the music, so that you've got to time.
Are there kind of artists that have a lot of music in that tempo range that you play a lot of?
There are. There are Pitbull, there's this other - what's another one that I use a lot? Drake, Pitbull, J Balvin. I don't know if you've heard of him, J Balvin?
He's amazing for twerk. Balvin is probably one of my favourites and Chris Brown. Rihanna's got some good stuff. What's another one?
I was imagining some darker B-sides like...
Tiga, Lil’ John, a lot of his stuff.
Do you spend much time hunting music, or do you try and build a playlist?
I spend too much time. I've got a big playlist but because I'm listening to them all the time, I'm always trying to find more music. I'm quite specific in what I'm after. I could just pretty much write it off straight away in that first two seconds. "No, no, no."
You can tell if the beat is going to work with...
Yeah, exactly but I'm going to more say to the girls, "Hit me, send me some music." I'm quite pedantic about what type of beat it is so I'll write off a few songs pretty quickly, but I spend a lot of time looking for good music and trying to find...
Is that why you gravitated towards twerk?
For the music? Definitely because I love that kind of hip-hop/RNB style/twerk/rap. That real where it's got that tick-tick-tick beat behind that. A certain type of beat but that's definitely why because when I found that I was a jazz dancer - and I was a student, I wasn't a teacher - one of my biggest frustrations was the teacher would also pick this cheesy music. I was like, "Ugh," and as a student, you couldn't - you'd have to go along with it. It was so frustrating.
I totally get that.
So, when I found twerking, I was like, "Awesome." I love that beat, that sort of style of music. So, that was a win. It's a win-win. Music and the moves.
Is the studio in town?
The studio is at New Lambton, near Corner Lane, that coffee shop there. It's a tiny studio. If I need to - if I'm doing big classes, more than 7, I'll go to a studio at Charlestown that fits 30 girls in a room.
What's the best way for people to contact you? Do you do most bookings through Instagram?
Instagram, yeah. I do everything through Instagram. I've got business cards which I hand out, drop around to hairdressers and things to try and get hen's parties and give the girls usually a few classes just to try and get it out there, but I do all my business just on Instagram. I've found that's really the way to go these days.
Find Nicole and her Twerkshops on the ‘gram @nicmaries and watch a few of her videos. Slide into her DMs with a booking for the next Hen’s party or join a workshop. Shake that butt. As Sir Mix-A-Lot would say “Baby Got Back!”.