Pole dancing competition ‘Polesque’ askes dancers to tell a story

Telling the pole story: Dance-off isn’t just for flips, competitors tell stories

The Brooklyn Paper
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It is a truth universally acknowledged that pole dancing is not considered a narrative art form.

A pole dancing competition and burlesque showcase called Polesque hopes to prove otherwise with an event that will have 16 vertical storytellers spin their bodies while also spinning a yarn.

“In the past, we’ve had someone riding on a subway, or use the pole to express an experience in a relationsh­ip,” said Jen Martin, co-founder of DUMBO-based Aera, the dance organization that is hosting the event at the Bell House in Gowanus.

Storytelling is just as important as utilizing the highly specialized dance space, said Martin, running counter to other pole dancing contests, which are scored like gymnastics.

Instead of rewarding dancers for each difficult move, such as pole-assisted flips, this event is more subjective.

“We try to bring out the creative element of pole dancing instead of a specific trick or element,” Martin said. “We want to move people or be able to convey some kind of mood or story when we present it to an audience.”

The show isn’t all low-lighting and drama. Burlesque is often known for its nerdy sense of humor (witness the existence of “Doctor Who” burlesque in the borough). So while audiences can expect some pizazz and showmanship, Martin said the stories will take center stage.

“We want people to perform whatever works for them and whatever moves them,” she said.

Polesque at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus, (718) 643–6510,]. March 24, 7 pm, $25 advance, $30 door.

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.
Updated 10:09 pm, July 9, 2018
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