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September 17, 2014

Pole Positions

Sarah Scott Flips the Strip-Club Practice On its Head

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.

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Spotlight

The Wait

Chloë Sevigny and Jena Malone Are Sisters Caught Up in Director M. Blash's Psychological Drama

Chloë Sevigny and Jena Malone sway to The Cure’s “Sugar Girl” in an excerpt from The Wait by M. Blash. Shot two hours from the director's home of Oregon, the film is the follow-up to his 2006 debut feature Lying, which also starred today's leading pair. Against an expansive, forest fire-ravaged landscape, the multitalented auteur—whose music promos for operatic indie bands Austra and Owen Pallett sit on his resume alongside exhibitions of his artwork with Jeffrey Deitch—creates a tense tale of two siblings facing the aftermath of their mother’s death: deciding to keep her body in the family home following a cryptic phone call informing them of her imminent return, a conflict ensues between the pair. “In times of stress and grief, peoples’ minds can go into fail-safe mode and believe whatever they want,” Blash says of his film’s subject. “It's really about that suspended state when one experiences something traumatic, it kind of looms and time begins to operate differently.”

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Spotlight

Seduced and Abandoned

Ryan Gosling Gives An Entertaining Insight Into the Perils of the Hollywood Audition

“The movie business is like the worst girlfriend you’ve ever had,” declares Alec Baldwin, the veteran actor and star of James Toback’s documentary Seduced and Abandoned. “You are seduced and abandoned over and over again.” The hard-hitting Hollywood director returns to Cannes, where he triumphed in 2008 with his documentary on Mike Tyson, and puts the mechanics of the film festival itself under his microscope. In the wry meta-film, The Glengarry Glen Ross star and Toback work La Croisette Boulevard like the undoubted pros they are in a determined attempt to secure funding for "Last Tango in Tikrit," a sexually explicit allegory about post-Iraq disillusion in which Baldwin would take the lead. “Alec and I acted in a scene together in Woody Allen's Alice,” says Toback. “Our scene was cut from the final version but the irrational sense of connection I felt with him, both as a screen presence and as a person, lingered after our brief Woody experience.” The duo quickly discovers why Somerset Maugham described the Riviera as “a sunny place for shady people” but the impressive list of auteurs and actors they interview––including Martin Scorsese, Ryan Gosling and Francis Ford Coppola––are disarmingly candid. “It’s a celebration of film, not so much of the industry,” says Toback. “I have learned that the more movies I make, the more impossible it is to get excited by any film which is not filled with surprises, uncertainty and the daily need for invention.”

Seduced and Abandoned is released February 17 on Soda Pictures

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