As Pole dance has evolved into new popularity across the world it has been given an array of different titles including polenastics, pole art, pole fitness and pole sport. While I welcome innovative thinking from business owners and events teams, I wonder why the general cohort of students are trying so hard to move away from the title “pole dance”. I can see how business owners are using these titles as a unique selling point to attract more customers and I think they are pretty smart to do so. Specific to pole competitors I can understand the use of pole sport as a term to describe their competitive activity because that is what sport is; an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. Similarly, if you attend a pole class designed with the same specificity as a regular fitness program, the label pole fitness is also relevant. However, more often than not, the pole students / performers who are changing the name from pole dance to something else are not doing any of the above. They are simply learning / choreographing dance with the inclusion of a pole.
All styles of dance have their own back ground (you can learn more about pole dance here) and in order for them to have developed they have utilized many techniques and different environments as starting points for practice. So you can gauge the progression of another dance style; ballet wasn’t always set on a pristine stage with pointe shoes and tutus. In fact, it was far from it and there is plenty of research suggesting that female ballerinas, back in the day, were being objectified and used solely for entertainment. Sound familiar?
As a choreographer / performer who is fully accepting of the entire origins of pole dance I don’t think it’s necessary to disregard the word dance as part of the title. We move our body in the space with the inclusion of a pole so why should it be labeled as anything but pole dance? You might ask me, “how will we move away from the stigma that is attached to pole dance if we don’t label it as something else?” In response to this I would ask if you enjoyed to pole dance, you would say yes and I would prove my point. Millions of people around the world are benefitting, in so many ways, from pole dancing so why should we concern ourselves with changing the name of an activity we enjoy for the sake of other people? When I realised that sexuality is in the eye of the beholder I knew that if people were stuck in their one track mind their opinion was definitely not going to change if I called it pole sport.
Overall, if we want to make a difference and to encourage others to be a part of the pole dance movement we should accept and embrace ALL of its origins, instead of denying a significant part of its roots and pretending that it is something that it is not. If women and men feel empowered when they are moving their body with a pole then so be it. It’s a fantastic thing for people to move, create and perform whether their intention is for dancing, sexual empowerment, sport, fitness or anything else.