Pole powers

Pole powers

She had no experience in gymnastics or dance until she took up pole dancing nine years ago, but a 38-year-old American beat seasoned rhythmic gymnasts and dancers in the women's division of the International Pole Championship.

Ms Natasha Wang, who is of Chinese descent, won the top prize for her routine inspired by the Chinese legend of Madame White Snake.

The four-hour competition was held last Saturday night at the National University of Singapore's University Cultural Centre, and attracted more than 1,000 people.

Organised annually by the International Pole Dance Fitness Association, the competition was held in Singapore for the first time this year. It drew 30 of the world's best pole dancers from 12 countries, including Finland, Australia, Singapore and the United States.

The competition's Poland-born founder Anna Przeplasko said she decided to hold the competition in Singapore this year mainly because of pole dancing's increasing popularity here.

Contestants were judged for their technique, originality and choreography in five competition divisions: women's, men's, women's disabled, masters and doubles. Winners clinched prizes such as training scholarships and professional sponsorship.

Ms Wang, who lives in Los Angeles, said her lack of athleticism was what first motivated her to try her hand at pole-performing when she was 29. "I realised I was almost 30, so I decided to take up something physically challenging," she told Life! after her win.

She soon fell in love with the sport, and became an avid performer and instructor, clinching titles such as the US Pole Dance Champion 2011 and California Pole Dance Champion 2010.

The win meant a lot to her, as she had been considering taking a hiatus.

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