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Climbing to the top of the pole (2)

By Liao Danlin (Global Times)

10:35, October 29, 2012

Yan Shaoxuan rehearses (Liao Danlin/GT)

International criteria

Around the same time, Yuan Biao, then a lawyer, also started to become interested in pole dance. Instead of learning the skills or poses, he was more interested in the mechanical principles and criteria for international competition. He emailed the World Pole Dance Federation to discuss the criteria for pole dance competitions.

In 2010, one of Meng's online dance videos was viewed by the World Pole Dance Federation. Throughout the seven years of the World Pole Dance Championship, there had not been a single Chinese candidate.

Meng was invited that year as the first Chinese competitor, and she ranked among the top 24. In the same year, Yuan was authorized to bring the pole dance championship to China and select contestants for international level competitions. Gathering top dancers, he organized the first and second China Pole Dance Championship.

Currently, as the coach and leader of the team, he advises performers on music choices, poses, choreography and other relevant fields.

"He doesn't dance but he knows more, and that's enough," said Cao.

Changing perceptions

Pole dancing is often stigmatized by the conservative public in China. For most pole dancers, changing preconceived notions their loved ones have about the art is part of the process. The first China Pole Dance Championship was a life-changing experience for almost all the candidates.

"My parents are very traditional. They were opposed to me learning pole dancing at the beginning. When I won a prize at the championship and they saw how I danced, they changed their attitude," said Cao.

Song said her performance during the championship changed both her family's attitude and local impressions, as the local TV station of her hometown broadcast the competition.

After the competition, pole dance classes took off at gyms. According to Yuan, there are thousands of pole dance clubs in China now, and about 300,000 to 400,000 people teaching or learning the art.

Yuan thinks people would change their impressions of the art after watching a real performance. His objective as a member of the world pole dance federation is to make it an Olympic game event and to stage more official competitions in China.

"We are called a national team, but not in a real sense. Yes, we select the best dancers based on world standards, but the support and scale is not comparable to other athletic activities," said Yuan.

Though the team has to cover their own costs in Switzerland, they see this chance as an opportunity to learn from the world's top dancers.

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