Like all disciplines, pole can be broken down into different catogories. The common theme is having a vertical pole. Here are the 4 most popular pole styles:
American Traditional If Miss America allowed for pole dancing in their talent portion, this is the style that would be showcased. American Traditional style of poling dancing has the beauty pageant flare to it. You would see a woman in 5 inch high heels, a two piece outfit, doing hair flips and body rolls and spinning around the pole. She can climb the pole, do splits and drops, and go upside down all with a smile on her face. Effortlessly and with confidence. This style focuses on explosive muscular power, flexibility, and coordination. At the core of American Traditional pole style are ballet undertones which include clean lines, pointed toes, and graceful movements that are continuous and fluid. Here, heel clapping is encouraged but there is minimal to no booty shaking. This style can also be considered Australian Traditional because Aussies have this style DOWN PAT! Here is a great example of what American Traditional looks like:
Acrobatic Pole/ Gymnastics This style of pole is strictly acrobatic. It’s less focused on musicality or sensuality and mostly about showcasing agility, strength, and power through advanced moves. Chinese Pole and Mallakhamba (Indian Pole Gymnastics) are included in this category. Chinese pole is popular in many acrobatic circus acts like Cirque de Soliel. In this type of pole, performers focus on acrobatic tricks and flips. The performers are usually male, there are multiple poles, and there are usually multiple performers doing tricks on the same pole. Chinese pole studios are only offered in select studios on the West Coast. Mallakhamba began in the 12th century. Here, the performer executes feats and poses with a vertical wooden pole or rope. It is not likely that you will see many studios offering Mallakhamba here in America. Many of these acrobatic pole dancing tricks have been incorporated in modern pole dancing classes and performances. Here is a great example of what chinese pole looks like:
Contemporary Pole This is the fusion of contemporary dance mixed with pole dance styles. It’s the most modern style of pole dance out there. In terms of tricks, if American traditional and Chinese pole had a baby, that baby’s cousin would be contemporary pole dance. More people can do it. It doesn’t require high heels. The gender bias isn’t as important. Lack of shoes also allows for fusion of other dance types like hip hop, belly dance, Zumba, breakdancing, whatever you can think of. There usually isn’t a lot of sexual dance in this style of pole so no body waves or gyrating. Similar to American Traditional, the focus here is on flexibility, strength, and explosive power. If you attend a pole fitness competion on the regional or national level, most (if not all) pole dance competitions are strictly contemporary pole dance. Here is a great example of what contemporary pole looks like:
Exotic Pole When I tell people that I pole dance, this is what 85% of people think I do. With the popularity of twerking, this style of pole dancing is more easy to recognize. This category is where pole is influenced by brukwine, twerking and booty clapping. It requires a lot of practice and learned muscular isolation techniques. Despite popular belief, booty popping is not easy to do at all and does not come naturally to most. It takes a lot of time and practice to get it right. Here is an example of exotic pole:
As a spectator, I love and admire ALL forms of pole dance. When it comes to the type of style of pole I like to perform, I prefer American Traditional. These categories are not set in stone. In most pole dance routines, there’s usually a fusion of each of these pole dance styles. For example, I would say that all of these pole styles can have acrobatic and gymnastic elements to them. Pole routines can also vary depending just on the dancer as well as on the music being danced to.
As you decide which pole dance studio to join, keep these different dance styles in mind. For example, if you prefer American Traditional pole and are looking to strut around in heels or body roll, you might not want to go to a studio that focuses on contemporary pole which is barefoot and focuses on free flow, raw, and organic movements. The best way to find out is to take a few classes to test it out and see if the studio is the right fit for you.
What it your favorite pole style? Comment below. If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to comment below as well. Happy Poling! 🙂