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Scaling new heights

Updated: 2013-09-10 07:01
By Chen Nan (China Daily)

Scaling new heights

Pole dancing is often associated with strip clubs and pornography, but a group of passionate dancers are hoping a new performance will prove to people that it requires as much artistic skill and athleticism as more conventional forms of dance. Chen Nan reports.

Wearing white tank tops and tight black shorts, dancers from the China Pole Dance Team climb a 3-meter steel pole. On their way up, each dancer gives a 30-second demonstration of their skills on the pole. They spin and twirl with legs straight and toes pointing to the ceiling while holding the pole. As they drop quickly and gently to the floor, the crowd gasps and applauds.

"This is art, isn't it," says Yuan Biao, clapping and standing next to the stage.

Pole dancing, long considered pornographic and associated with strip clubs, is emerging into the mainstream as an art form and a competition sport in China, thanks in large part to Yuan, a member of the World Pole Dance Federation who founded the China Pole Dance Team 10 months ago, the first team representing China to compete at the World Pole Dance Sport Fitness Championship.

Now the team, which is composed of 12 formal members and four alternate members, is going to perform a 90-minute pole dance show, Youth of Black and White, at Tianjin Haihe Theater on Sept 14 and 15, hoping to change people's impressions of pole dancing. "There is a stigma attached to pole dancing. Through drama and artistic quality, we hope to see pole dancing rid itself of the association with strippers. We want the audience to see it as any other dance form or sport," says Yuan, 33.

The show is designed to tell the story of the dancers' lives. By using four seasons to link the story, the show depicts how hard the dancers train and how much pressure they are under in the pursuit of their dreams.

"Like any other young people in China, they have a dream and stick to it. However, because their dream is pole dancing, they live a hard life, suffering from poverty and pressure from society and their families," says Yuan.

He also hopes the show can tour the country, which will help improve the living conditions of the pole dancers. "Most of the dancers make money from teaching. If the show goes well, they will gain confidence and continue to pursue their career," says Yuan. "They are just like athletes, who deserve respect."


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