When it comes to pole dance, some may think of debauched nightclubs, smoking hot strippers, and some may even consider it a pornographic and unpresentable acrobatic display. In fact, it is easier said than done to pose and perform alluring moves on a pole. Not only must the dancer have sufficient muscle strength to hold a bodily posture, but a flexible physique is also required to pose beautifully and gracefully.
Narlton, a 25-year-old pole dancing instructor, likes to integrate acrobatic elements into pole dance and challenge the limits of both muscle strength and somatic flexibility. Narlton opened his own dancing studio in January this year and began to promote pole dance as a form of exercise. There have been more and more advocates fighting to make pole dance an Olympic sport in recent years in the choreographic circle around the globe, while the international competitions of pole dance growing more sizeable. Narlton points out that the scoring criteria of such competitions are standardised, similar to those of the gymnastic competitions in the Olympic Games. Narlton went to Japan in April this year to participate in an international competition, during which not only did he win a prize, but he also noticed that all others prize winners were members of national teams. He was the only person who joined on an individual basis, where the staff were also surprised that he did not have a Hong Kong team uniform. This experience is etched in his memory, and it also drives him to set his mind in promoting pole dance with a view to having a Hong Kong pole dance team in the future.
The 22-year-old Leon believes that pole dance is a form of performance art that shall not be limited to females. He says he likes to transcend beyond conventional boundaries. He is fully aware that ordinary people would be startled to see a man pole dancing, and some may even frown upon such idea. However, he wants to challenge people’s comfort zone and allow everyone to introspect through his dance, so that people can understand neither genders shall be prejudiced. Yet, in a rather conservative city like Hong Kong where the market of pole dance is still small, Leon does not have many opportunities to perform. Leon targets to go beyond Hong Kong and get invited to teach pole dance around the world, but fame is the first thing he needs if such target is to be achieved. Therefore, he resolved to participate in an international competition called Mr Pole Dance, in Sydney, Australia in June 2016, and went head to head with elite dancers from around the globe for the zenith.
As pole dance is a form of performance art as well as an exercise, why can’t it be promoted? Symone, an Australian pole dancing instructor who was raised in Hong Kong, has been teaching pole gymnastics to children since a few years back. Her youngest student is only seven years old, and the sprightly energetic students of hers act like monkeys on the pole and indulge in an exhilarating mood every time they come to her class. Symone points out that, most of her current students are foreigners. She hopes that parents in Hong Kong will gradually recognise pole dance as an interest activity after school.