With all the recent news segments and articles written surrounding the controversy regarding children and pole sport (see a few examples: here and here) I wanted to take a few minutes to express that not only do some of my most precious memories and moments involve dancing carelessly around my poles with my children but how absolutely beneficial I see pole dance to be for children.
Dance is a place for laughter, silliness, love, growth and expression. Children love to dance! Society and age tend to damper the action but not the desire. Dance is natural as it is expressional movement and we are humans with both mental and physical needs. Expressionism in our movement in this manner however tends to slowly get abandoned with time and societal pressures. Practice of the movement arts strengthens us both physically and mentally while guiding us back to a deep appreciation of self and body.
Pole is simply another form of dance (or can be strictly fitness depending on the practitioner). Children are natural movers and dancers intuitively and instinctively climbing, spinning and inverting when presented with a pole. They are also incredibly flexible little creatures and just as adults they have physical and emotional needs relating to their bodies and minds. Pole fitness is an incredible, full body workout. It strengthens the practitioner’s body while increasing stamina, balance, coordination, confidence and flexibility.
The practice of pole is equally amazing for the mind. Practicing teaches tenacity, patience, pride, body acceptance (in self and others) and understanding. Pole is very catering in the aspect that it molds a unique path for each individual based on their needs and what they desire to achieve from their trainings.
Some individuals take the sexy road, some are tricksters, some keep it strictly fitness and others use it for expression… pole will become whatever an individual makes of it.
Straight up, pole dance does not need to involve anything that could be considered sexy or even sensual if the practitioner does not make is so (these feats are simply an addition onto the fundamentals of basic pole movement) therefore children should be encouraged to practice pole training under the supervision of a responsible instructor and have the ability to reap all the benefits that pole dance has to offer.
Take a look at Olia Trifonova (this is her winning performance of Miss Pole Dance Russia 2012 Kids: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PyfBp4Y_vA). She displays sheer athletic beauty that takes an unbelievable amount of work and dedication. If someone finds this sexy, I believe there is something wrong with said person. Sexy is in the eye of the beholder and if someone is watching a child dance and views it as sexy there is something wrong within that person.
“Sexy is in the eye of the beholder and if someone is watching a child dance and views it as sexy there is something wrong within that person.”
There are definitely pole moves that are sensual and sexy (there are moves in every style of dance that can be categorized as such) and I would never condone these types of moves being taught to children in any form or manner (nor do I condone moves being re-named or termed as anything other than their professionally accepted titles) – like I stated earlier, pole dance will become whatever the dancer makes it and under the care of a responsible instructor, children would not be exposed to these elements.
I also find it troubling that this act of athleticism would be completely embraced if the pole was removed or turned onto a horizontal plane. It would be categorized as artistic gymnastics, modern dance or something of a related nature.
We have sexualized pole dance through our society and it’s time we open up to all aspects of pole and stop being threatened by our outdated dogmas and stigmas surrounding what can be a truly beautiful art form.
People seem to take the defense that pole is sexualizing our children whereas when taught properly it actually has the reverse effect. Our children are exposed to sex in every direction they turn from the television, to magazines, the radio and billboards. Music videos are what some would consider soft porn and the lyrics of most popular songs are blatantly sexual. These unrealistic messages of how lives are or should be lived can be seriously damaging to our youths individualism, sexuality and self-image. Pole dance teaches acceptance of the human body in all its beautiful forms in self and in others. It builds strength and confidence and to many is considered a form of moving meditation. Being engaged and invested in yourself at this level changes how and what individuals expect for and from themselves.
Pole as an activity is self-progressive while also a team driven sport. It engages the practitioner in a supportive, positive, driven, encouraging community full of new ideas and encouragement. I (and other pole artists) continually express the life changing magnificence of being involved in such a positive, supportive community of people.
Pole dance promotes individual expression, improves body image, unites supportive individuals and is incredible for the body, mind and spirit… embrace your child getting off that couch, turning off the television (that is truly filled with harmful messages) and get them working toward investing in a better happier them (and please, join them).
Here are a few videos of me dancing with my children…
I invite your thoughts and feelings on the subject – leave your comments below or better yet links to you dancing or training with your children 🙂