by Hani Yassine
The Lance – Arts Editor
In Windsor, where acts involving a standing silver rod usually invoke erotic sensibilities, one group aims to present it on the basis of art and athletics.
The Walkerville Brewery played host to Defying Gravity Feb. 20, a showcase meant to demonstrate the artistic and physical prowess of pole dancing through a series of solo and group performances. Presented by the Breathe Pilates and Fitness Studio, the objective is not just to entertain and establish, but to divert the performance art from its more suggestive themes.
“We’re trying to show everyone in Windsor that there’s a pole community here and change some of the pre-conceived notions about what pole fitness is,” said event organizer and performer Caita Clemerson. “These girls want to do this. They’re very committed and they love to do it.”
Clemerson said upon sending out invitations for the event, people had asked what the differences were between pole dancing as an art form and its erotic counterpart. With a wide variety of pole fitness competitions held since its surge in the early 2000s, many of them have rules against any nudity and suggestive acts which you would normally see in a nightclub. While Friday night’s show wasn’t competitive, Breathe co-director Nikki Sebastian believes not many arrived out of interest in seeing it as a form of artistry.
“I think if you interview people here, maybe 10 per cent came because of the athletic art form, and the rest came because they think it’s going to be sexy and raunchy,” Sebastian said.
There proved to be some exceptions to the rule however. Mario Kulic was one of the hundred or so attendees at the event, wanting to see the show in its intended light.
“I’m a spiritual person so I’m looking for a spiritual connection, in seeing the aura from their movements to show the beauty in it,” Kulic said. “I believe it’s a beautiful thing.”
The show consisted of 10 acts from experienced and novice performers. Despite some of the jitters the dancers may have had, when it came to show time there was a crisp sense of control and flexibility on the stage and the burlesque pole within it.
While plans for another show remain unknown at this time, Sebastian hopes the event serves as a way to shift the perception of the art within the community.
“I think part of our generation’s responsibility is tearing down those traditional stigmas,” Sebastian said. “It’s not always about how I perceive it to be, but how the person perceives when they’re doing it.”