Pole Dancing Without Nudity or G-Strings. Just Express Yourself.

On most weekdays Cristi, 33, works in advertising and marketing for a vogue firm, a daily 9-to-5 job. But on a latest Friday afternoon, she might be discovered at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side, doing a cut up within the theater aisle as a buddy pulled again her arms, helping her in a deep stretch.

She would want that limber backbone in a number of hours, when she took the stage on the U.S. Pole Dance Championship, whipping herself round a metal equipment to “Cornflake Girl” by Tori Amos. (To maintain her skilled life separate, she most popular to make use of solely her first title.)

“It’s a great way for me to de-stress, add some creativity, and all those types of things,” she stated, explaining why, 5 years in the past, she obtained hooked on pole dancing.

The different rivals at this two-day occasion — 115 in all — had additionally, clearly, caught the pole bug. Some, like Cristi, work full-time in different fields, practising and educating pole dance on the facet; others make their residing within the rising pole dance trade, as lecturers and studio house owners. Some have backgrounds in gymnastics or ballet; others by no means danced earlier than attending their first pole class.

“Even if it’s competitive, these are some of the nicest competitors — they’re helpful to each other,” said Kellye Janel, an actor, model and makeup artist who would perform that night in the doubles category with her dance partner, Christopher Kyle. Like many of the solo routines, theirs involved feats of propelling and contorting the body around the pole, with the added thrill of one dancer, say, holding the other by the ankles upside down.

For her own competition — the first of its kind in this country — she wanted to offer a more positive experience, where participants could enjoy the culmination of their hard work while the audience enjoyed a good show.

“There’s no G-strings, no nudity, nothing like that in our competitions,” she said, “but women have the freedom to express themselves in a sensual, sexy manner if they want.”

Even at its most risqué — or especially, given the challenge of wielding platform heels, as many performers do — pole dancing requires great strength, especially in the core and upper body. A tolerance for the pain of skin gripping metal also helps.

“Pole dancers are masochists,” Mr. Kyle said, holding out his callused palms.

“You just keep doing it and the nerve endings will die,” Mr. Petrovia added, pointing out a rough patch on the back of his knee.

But excelling on the pole takes more than brute strength and a high pain threshold. At the U.S. Pole Dance Championship, soloists are judged in five areas: performance; flexibility and extension; difficulty of tricks; smooth and unique transitions; and technique.

By the U.S. Pole Dance Federation’s rules, dancers can earn their pro status, a selective honor, only through competing in the amateur division. Jena Clough, 32, a studio owner and mother of two from Cape Cod, was among the seven amateurs anointed pro this year, placing third. The accolade, she said, would boost her résumé, helping her land more teaching and performance gigs.

While Ms. Clough’s routine was on the sultrier side, performances across all levels ranged in style and mood, from punk-rock defiance to flowing lyricism. “Pole names” like Candy, Magnetic, Apocalyssa and Serpentia reflected the array of personas. Some competitors built characters and stories with props and costumes — a sparkly lollipop, foil confetti, a long satin skirt and a leather whip all made appearances — while others took a more abstract approach.

But for others, the pole remains more an expressive than a competitive space. As Mr. Taylor said: “What I like about pole is you can do whatever you want with it. One day it can be a sexy release, one day you might be more acrobatic, one day you might just want to dance.”

Source link Nytimes.com

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