Pole world charm

Pole world charm
Mr Daniel Kok.

Gone are the days when pole dancing was synonymous with seedy, sex industry images.

These days, pole dancers are highly skilled competitors - part gymnasts, part contemporary dancers, part strength trainers - whose acrobatic moves are more likely to be found in Cirque Du Soleil shows than in a gentlemen's club.

See this for yourself at the fifth annual International Pole Championship tomorrow.

Held in Singapore for the first time, the competition will be at the National University of Singapore's University Cultural Centre Hall.

Organised by the International Pole Dance Fitness Association, the event has drawn 30 of the world's best pole dancers from 12 countries, including Australia, Finland, Japan, Singapore and the United States.

These finalists will vie for $45,000 worth of prizes, including training scholarships and professional sponsorship.

There are five competition divisions: men's, women's, women's disabled, doubles and masters. Contestants will be judged for their technique, originality and choreography.

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

The performance art is taught in more than 10 dance studios and gyms around the island.

Says Ms Przeplasko, 38: "In an average week, there are 500 students practising pole dancing in Singapore, which is about six times more than when the competition started in 2008."

She moved here two years ago with her Australian-banker husband and is six months pregnant with their first child.

More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the event tomorrow night.

Only 200 tickets are still available to spectators. Some pole dancing workshops in conjunction with the championship sold out weeks ago.

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