Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pole Art 2011 - a vertical dance competition

Though I'm a big fan of dancing of the horizontal kind, I didn't want to pass up an opportunity to see some of the vertical kind: pole dancing. Figured it would be interesting and oh boy was it! I definitely hold a high regard for people with such acrobatic capabilities that they can move with grace up and down on the pole. Or two poles actually, a static one and another that is free to rotate.

Pole Art is rather new competition and showcase event for pole dancers. Well I guess so is the pole dance community as well, pole dancing beign a rather new art form, sport and type of dance. This particular event was the third of its kind and most competitors were champions of various national and internation events from the current or past two years (but nothing was noted from before 2009). Also the group of nationalities was rather narrow: Finns, Swedes, French, Russian, Britons and Americans. Though the backgrounds of the participants varied - people from various dance arenas, gymnasts, acrobats and circus performers. This was the first Pole Art event where males succeeded to get to the finals and thus had the male category for the first time. Altogether 9 females and 4 males competed for the respectives trophies (shaped as a huge diamond BTW). In addition to to the competitive series, there were a number of showcase perfomances.

I don't know the first thing about pole dancing or how the competitors were evaluated and scored but would imagine there are some obligatory moves and some points for various artistic aspects, using the space and the music and so forth. Irrespective of what the actual merits were, I had my favourites. My number one favourite also placed number one on his category - the spectacular Edouard Doye from France. See the video below, especially the start where he goes on and on without touching the pole with his body or legs - the audience holding its breath. All the moves flowed from one to another with such elegance, no need to readjust his hand position and no hesitations. Amazing body control and an admirably artistic performance! 

My other favourite was Evgeni Greshilov from Russia, another fantastic male performer with undeniable technical skills but he also had a surprisingly funny and romantic piece for the pole. No need to wear clingy, sparkly spandex or tons of makeup (like Vladimir Karachunov and Steven Retchless, both great as well and Steven placed second of the males). Of the many highlights in Evgeni's show I most liked the move at 0:40. I'm wondering if he lost points on the striptease since he didn't place on the top!

Of the ladies I was happy to see the Finnish Oona Kivelä win (unfortunately found no video of her performance on youtube at the moment). Another favourite of mine of the female category was Manuela Carneiro from France, both feminely elegant and technically interesting despite some minor fumbling - see especially the "there has to be an invisible cable somewhere" move starting at 1:00. I recommend googling or searching youtube for more jaw-dropping videos.

Looking at the show my one clear thought about pole dancing was "no way!". As fun - no, awe-inspiring - as it looks, I can see that it would take me forever (first at the gym, the at the pole) to get anywhere. But as my new pole dancing friend told me, these were the "pole roaylties" so no worries if this looks humanly impossible!

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