Why I Dance

Julia Roth helped produce Why I Dance, a pole dance film about women who come together to reclaim their bodies and themselves. 


It’s an understatement to say Why I Dance changed my life. It cracked open parts of me I had kept locked up, in fear of overflowing. I bottled parts of myself, portioned out appropriately for what I believed people could ‘stomach’ — not too much, not too loud, not too big, not too curvy. I hid behind this desperation to be less, to make others around me comfortable, cursed the body that just kept busting out of everything I dressed her in.

And then one day, one unassuming morning in my flannel PJs, I came across a Kickstarter for a film that celebrates women, that preaches their curves like the gospel. A film that marvels at their strength, both in muscle and backbone. It was three women on screen, luminous, unapologetic, promising a story of ‘Yes’ to women, for women.

Then, to my surprise, they talked about pole dancing. Some combination of thinking “that’s not for me” and “I hear that takes a lot of upper body strength” lulled me into my usual feelings of the door I won’t open in fear of the drop, afraid of what wellspring lay within me that would eventually push people away. It was the opposite of the pen I had built for myself and called a cradle. But something was stronger than my reservations, louder than my excuses for not doing it. I emailed Sascha, one of the producers and dancers, and asked to help in some way to tell the stories of women, most of whom I’d never met, but would come to give a voice.


And in the midst of that studio, in the mist of a downtown LA sunrise, women filed in of all kinds, shapes, colors, swimming with nervousness, smiles, hesitation. But as the music came on, something happened I’d never seen before. As 30 women entered the space — dancers and crew members alike — an unspoken agreement took place; we were there to support each other, lift each other up and celebrate each other. No catty word nor jealous glance made its way into the space, but true support of each other’s light, gorgeous women supporting gorgeous women, encouraging their glory, their whole selves. It was like meeting rockstars, these creatures opening right in front of me, spilling their beauty into the whole room to be caught and held by their sisters.

Their bodies were electric, strong and soft. They danced through every nasty word, unwelcome touch, every ‘not-enough.’ They danced through every time their sexuality had been claimed for them, reclaiming it for themselves, standing their ground. They danced through all the shame they’ve ever been made to feel. They danced for their freedom. They danced for women who have never known freedom. They danced to break open all the misconceptions we have about women, our compartmentalized sexuality, what society allows us and what society doesn’t. It was rebellion in its most beautiful form.

We cheered, louder than I’d cheered in my life. We screamed, cried, comforted each other for taking this plunge, reassured everyone that no one was in this alone. This was our space, our story. It was worthy, alive. We shook off our shame. No — we kicked shame right in the patriarchy.


It’s been an honor to reach the amount of people we have reached with this film. It’s been an honor even to get a rise out of the slut-shamers, the men who are threatened, the women who are threatened. We wanted to start the conversation, to offer our voice to the complexity and duality of the divine feminine. It’s not simple. We are mothers, sex goddesses, friends. We do not fit into society’s ideas of ‘woman,’ but we are not what’s wrong with this picture. We take up space. We are allowed. It does not make us wrong. It does not make us targets. It makes us human beings.

As women, we are often separated and pinned against each other in competition, but our strength lies in how we encompass. We are fierce, resilient, enduring and life-giving. We are entitled to the life we want. We are entitled to our own bodies. We are the ones who decide what to think about it. We are the ones who decide what to do with it.

I dance because I can. Because it makes me happy. And that’s enough. I dance because my shame does not belong to me. I dance to give it back. I dance because I love my sexuality. Because I’m strong. Because I’m fearless. Because I’m human. Because I’m worth it.

We are all worth it.



Born and raised in Los Angeles CA, Julia Roth is a writer, yogi, feminist and dedicated world-changer.  Starting off as an actor from a young age holding plays in her backyard, she attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for theater, then began to write and produce, later entering the professional film world on HBO’s True Detective. She went on to work on many features and shorts, and currently works at Illumination Entertainment, where she hopes to bring compassion, perspective and diversity through film. Julia continues to produce, write, direct and hold plays in her backyard. 

One Response to “Why I Dance”

  1. Pam Kelly

    I have been so inspired since I first saw the short Why I Dance video on Facebook. I have been researching online like crazy to find how I can learn and join this amazing sisterhood. I am an almost 5 year breast cancer survivor, in the past 5 years I have picked up my world shook it real hard and let all the shit fall out. I am on a constant “Find myself” journey now. The closest studio is in NYC I think. I live in the Hudson Valley and really cannot afford to get down there every week. Is there somewhere closer to me in Hyde Park NY I know several women who would love this. I would love to learn and teach it in my area. Finances need to recover first. Any information on how I should proceed in getting this I feel addicted and haven’t even been in a class. 🙂 Please Help. You are all so beautiful and amazing. Thank you for sharing this beautiful gift.

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