Kristy Sellars has recalled finding freedom to explore pole dancing as theatre during her first beginnings in Warrnambool, before being crowned winner of this year's Australia's Got Talent.
Sellars said she "can't believe the response" after she won the public's vote after her routine was televised in the season's finale on Sunday night.
"It really hit home for a lot of people, which is amazing. Connecting with the audience is the ultimate reward," she told The Standard.
Sellars, who grew up in Warrnambool and whose father Frank MccArthy and sister Sheridan Sicely live in the city, started her first PhysiPole studio while renting space in a Warrnambool gym a decade ago.
"It was like a pop-up studio, and it was really where I got to start exploring the creative side. I didn't really get to be at a studio with the poles and just play around with ideas until then," she said.
"Those first beginnings in Warrnambool were where I really got to explore what I could do with theatrical pole, and now here we are."
Her winning performance was set to Unsteady by X Ambassadors and was choreographed to a backdrop by a Los Angeles-based projectionist.
Sellars said she practiced the routine more than 200 times before the final. It told a story of a character transforming her life and raised awareness of family violence.
"It started in a domestic violence setting, but the show was about the main character's inner strength and being able to grow the world around her into something beautiful," she said.
"I wanted to tell a story that would touch people and move the audience and be something that was important to talk about."
Lucy Durack, one of the show's four judges, described Sellars' performance as "the ultimate grand final performance".
"Your pole moves were harder than any pole moves I had ever seen," Ms Durack said. "You just told this most beautiful and important story."
Viewers chose her among four of the show's talented women who judges had earlier selected to be put to a public vote.
Sellars said the show had prepared four endings and she was at home in Ballarat with her three children, aged 10 months to eight years, when she was announced the winner.
"We popped a champagne and then my phone went crazy and it has not stopped," she said. "I need to look at my inbox, because there are so many opportunities to perform in Australia."
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