The past four solo performance works that I have created were stimulated by research into pole dance and how this practice has been represented within feminist discourse (Subject / Object (2016), Double Aesthetic (2016), Object (Auto) Biography (2017) and the Ten Inch Heels (2018)). The content of each work was built on the theoretical framing of pole dance, as opposed to its aesthetic practice and tricks based stylisation. As a result of this, the vertical pole was absent in two of the works.

At this point, it is appropriate to note that I am in full support of every style of pole dance and will always posit this practice as a subjective activity. One person might approach the practice with a motivation to feel more sexy and strong, whilst another might take part to look sexy and strong. Please recognise the intrinsic and extrinsic value of those motivations and how each one could be relative to theories below.

Some of the areas that I am interested in linking to pole dance are capitalism, female and male entrepreneurship, male gaze theory (particularly the internalisation of male gaze), embodiment, disembodiment, empowerment, liberation, objectification, exploitation, physical fitness, injury due to poor training, femininity, masculinity, creativity, aerial dance, erotic dance, raunch culture, and community practices.

The text above that is emphasised in bold are most relative to my practice because they encompass a lot of the ideas that have been dismissed by pole dance practitioners. I too, have rejected some of the claims made about objectification within this practice, but I think that was just a defensive deniability. Objectification and exploitation do exist within this dance practice and it is time to accept and talk about that. Just like it has to be understood and acknowledged within every other dance style too. (I will unravel this further in a later blog, but for now, “body as instrument” can offer fruitful thought).

Having acknowledged the above, let us remember here that pole dance does not need protecting with a blanket that covers the “cracks” in its biography. Instead, it is time to question your own motivation to take part. Why do you do it? In answering this question, you might find out that it is the stigma that attracted you to the practice in the first place. Because, let’s face it, if you wanted to get aerial fit, you could have just gone to a regular fitness class or a silks / hoop class.

A thought for next blog is… if one claims pole dance as only an “embodied practice” then why are the majority of practice sessions uploaded to social media? Doesn’t the viewing of oneself and the production of material for others to view fall more in line with disembodied and objectified practices? I ask this question from the most genuine place, because I too, have obviously produced many dances for online and live audiences.

Rowena x

If you’re interested in viewing Object (Auto) Biography, one of the works listed above, I will be performing this solo at The Place, January 17th 2019. You can purchase tickets here.

I’ll be back next week with more to share, but in the meantime, you can see my daily updates by following me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook