Pole dancers in Manila seek respect for their art

Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:46am EDT
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By Roland Ng

MANILA (Reuters) - Pole dancing to the music of a 20-piece live orchestra, including violins? Yes, says one Philippine pole dance troupe that seeks respect for its art and athleticism.

Against the background of women around the world turning to pole dancing as a form of exercise, the Manila-based group Polecats proved at a recent weekend show that performances are no longer only for strip clubs and sleazy bars -- or just for women, either.

As the orchestra played classical-style arrangements of modern songs, dancers of both genders swung and climbed gracefully up 4 meter (12 foot) poles, combining flexibility, strength, and moves bordering on acrobatics, with sensuality.

"You don't go to Cirque du Soleil to get turned on, although maybe you will, but I just want people to see that we're really good at what we do, and not just hot," said Christina Dy, the Polecats director.

Routines involving swings and twirls require balance, concentration and a high level of technical skills, and that is what audiences should appreciate, she added.

"I just want people to see that this is very hard ... if you just want the hair flipping, the grinding and all that, the boob popping, you can get that anywhere."

The group has gathered male performers, as well as male viewers, by focusing on the athletic aspects of performing, said Job Bautista, the first man to become a regular Polecats members.

"Now here in the Philippines we're trying to promote the more acrobatic type of pole dancing, which we Polecats think is more suited to men," he said.   Continued...

<p>Arlyne Chinn tries out a new move during an intermediate pole dancing class at Flirty Girl Fitness in Chicago February 17, 2009. REUTERS/John Gress</p>