Director George Harvey captures award-winning pole performer Sarah Scott in this hypnotic, enigmatic short. As the exotic performance-turned-health activity takes over the fitness world, NOWNESS talked to the YouTube-taught, UK-based dancer and instructor about the origins and ideals of her strenuous practice.
Do you view the pole as more of a sport than an entertainment?
Sarah Scott: No, there’s definitely two sides to it. It is athletic and fitness-based because you have to have so much strength and flexibility and make your body do all these crazy things but it’s still an art form; it’s still dance. You get that creativity from it without having to go the gym and run on a treadmill.
Do you find a lot of people you come across have that kind of background or experience?
SS: Yes, a lot of people are coming in from different areas and find that they can pursue a lot later on in life. Whereas the ballet careers and gymnastic careers tend to finish at quite an early age, there are pole performers and instructors well into their 60s, and they’re incredible.
Why do you think pole dancing has been growing as a fitness trend?
SS: I think because there’s a lot more to it than just the aesthetic of what it does to your body. It’s something that you’re doing practically with your body, so instead of going in and thinking “I have to go to the gym to lose weight” or “I have to go to the gym to look a certain way,” it’s empowering, for men and women.
How has it evolved to where it is today?
SS: It came from different areas. You have the more exotic-dancer side from the strip clubs and you also have the Chinese pole influence from the circus: they’ve combined to form what it is today. A lot of the influences of the crazier tricks, they come from China, where it is very male-based. The more sensual, creative dance comes from the exotic side. If you put them together with a bit of a fitness background then that creates pole dance as it is today.
Can you name some of the moves you performed in the video?
SS: Handsprings, shoulder mounts, and a lot of ‘spin pole’ use—when the legs go quite crazy and you’re whipping around, inverting, and going upside down.
Who does it appeal to?
SS: I know women over 60 who do it. I know guys, street artists, who come from a parkour background who get into it through street poles. There are a lot more mums, which is kind of the main demographic: 25-40-year-old professional women, they go crazy for it. I think the misconception is it’s a lot of younger people or young girls, but actually I know army and police offers, lawyers who come. I even had a girl in a workshop over the weekend who was the mayor of her town.