Pole dancing champ talks about Olympics

August, 13, 2012
CaneJuan Mabromata/AFP/Getty ImagesAustralian Felix Cane, who has been world champ, thinks pole dancing is more art than a sport.
Now that the 2012 Olympics are over, it's time to ask the big question: Will pole dancing make the cut and be an Olympic sport in the future? That's what the International Pole Sports Federation would like. Australian Felix Cane, who was named Miss Pole Dance World 2010, wrote for Playbook about the sport's potential selection.

I definitely believe that pole dancing can be performed to extremely high athletic standards. Certainly the elite members of the pole dance community would train and prepare for pole dancing competitions in much the same way that the Olympic athletes prepare for the Games. To perform pole at a high level, you need extreme strength, flexibility and control. Personally, I do not feel that it is a sport but rather an art much like dance. However it can be performed in a very sanitized gymnastic style, which is more about the difficulty of the tricks rather than the performance as a whole, and perhaps making it more Olympic-friendly.

Pole dancing is a performance incorporating a pole as an outside apparatus much like you would see a gymnast do with beam or parallel bars. It has grown and evolved so much over the past decade. Unfortunately, most people incorrectly assume that pole dancing is something that only striptease artists perform in strip clubs, but there is a vast difference between pole dancers and strippers. Part of the difficulty of pole is that your apparatus is made of metal and very slick -- having fabric of any kind between your skin and the pole will cause slipping and possible injury. To have more skin available to utilize on the pole, it is performed usually in a bikini-style outfit very similar to what is worn for women's beach volleyball. It takes strength and endurance to keep your whole body weight up off the ground and great flexibly and skill to perform the transitions, flips and tricks. A lot of the feedback that I receive from people who have never seen pole dancing before is disbelief. The majority of people cannot even conceive the feats that are possible on the pole.

I started pole dancing after my mother allowed my little sister, who was 14 years old at the time, try out a pole dancing class. I was appalled. I, like most people, thought pole dancing was for only strippers! My mom turned to me and quite nonchalantly replied, "Oh, open your mind. It's not what you think." So, after that I decided that I couldn't be out-cooled by my own mother and I enrolled in a pole dancing class. After the first lesson, I was hooked. At the eight-month mark, I won my first Australian pole dancing title. After two years, I was approached by Cirque du Soleil to work in their show "Zumanity." That same year I won my first World Pole Dancing Championship. I have since won the Australian Championships three times consecutively and the worlds twice. I was also asked to join Cirque du Soleil's "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour," which is where I perform my pole dancing solo act now.

It is a great honor for me to have the opportunity not only to perform my art as my career but also to have the opportunity to introduce pole dancing to hundreds of thousands of people across the globe each year. It is my belief that the best way to show the public what pole dancing really can be is simply to show them. Whether the world is ready for pole dancing to be in the Olympics in 2016, I am ever hopeful that the public will learn to shake the stigma that pole is fundamentally wrong and dirty. After starting pole dancing only six years ago, this phenomenal workout has changed my life forever and for the better.



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