The most eye-catching thing about Felix Cane isn’t her fiery red wig, her black stilettos or her Swarovski Crystal-encrusted bikini. It’s her extraordinary ability to contort, flip and climb all over a 24-foot-high pole, which is why she’s part of the cast of Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour” (at the Verizon Center Friday through Sunday).
The 27-year-old, three-time winner of Miss Pole Dance Australia originally set out to be a ballerina. But she got bored with ballet at 19 and decided to study science instead. A pole fitness class with her mom, however, convinced her she needed to get back into dancing — only this time around a pole instead of en pointe.
“There’s a lot of physics in the way you’re shifting your weight around the pole,” Cane says. “And of course, anatomy.”
Cane has gotten to experiment, too, because she’s embraced a relatively new art form. Unlike the older circus act of Chinese pole — a male-dominated skill focused almost exclusively on strength — Cane’s style of pole dance is more about fluid artistry. That’s given her the freedom to devise new moves.
“I’ll have an idea to put my leg here instead of here,” says Cane, who choreographed her performance to Jackson’s “Dangerous.”
The shift in style doesn’t mean she’s not strong, though. It takes serious muscles to pull off moves like the flag, in which you grab onto the pole with your hands and extend your body off to one side. Flexibility has come easy to Cane, but she’s been hitting the gym three times a week to build up her overall strength, particularly her core.
“There isn’t one advanced trick I do now that came easy,” she says.
The practice pole that Cane travels with on tour has been popular with her fellow cast members, who enjoy taking it for a spin backstage. But she’s not ready to swap the pole for any of their acts: “I get scared of heights unless I have a pole to hang onto.”