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Monday, March 24, 2014

Music Monday: 1st Annual Pole World News Awards for pole dance & aerial art

Film Flam Flummox

For many, the notion of there being an Oscar-equivalent award for pole dance performers would draw a raised eyebrow, if not a snicker--and, I must admit, upon receiving an invite to the first annual Pole World News Awards, I had to stifle one myself. But being always open to supporting and exploring all types of artistic expression, I quickly accepted the invitation to the lavish event on Friday, March 21, held at, appropriately enough, no less than one of the Academy Awards ceremony's more famous former homes, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Downtown Los Angeles--and the highly spirited, always classy, and often astounding program shows that the pole is indeed an apparatus for an especially rigorous and altogether beautiful artform that will only grow in popularity and esteem in the years to come.

The ceremony, affably hosted by two-time U.S. and one-time Australian Dancing with the Stars champion Kym Johnson (whose frequent wonderment throughout the night reflected that of the audience's as a whole), was not without some first-year technical glitches, but any hiccups were more than made up for by the ample and varied performances that took place between award presentations. While the pole is commonly associated with a salacious element, the performance numbers didn't disguise the art's innate erotic energy, but the sensuality was symbiotic with the versatile artistry on display. The styles of the performances ran the gamut from ethereal (an angel number) to more boisterous (a hip-hop inflected one) to literally wild (jungle/nature vibes) to cheekily playful (one involving a lonely sailor). But the one quality that was consistently present throughout was the incredible athleticism, from strength to agility to control, whether in pole-based routines or the high-flying aerial numbers, which the umbrella of pole fitness art also encompasses--as one can see in the brief reel of highlights I was able to shoot and compile below.

The big showstopper of the night was the final performance: Anastasia Shukhtorova performing the number that won her the 2nd Pole Dance World Cup. Set to Lara Fabian's wrenching cover of the classic French ballad "Je Suis Malade" ("I Am Sick"), it displayed how the perfectly chosen song accompanied by creative choreography and astonishing athleticism can make for an emotionally powerful and absolutely stunning piece of art. I wasn't able to clearly shoot any of her performance that night, but below is the competition performance that won her the trophy in 2012.

More information on the PWN Awards and the inaugural award winners and performers can be found on the official site.

(Special thanks to Ebony Simpson at Lucid Public Relations and Pole World News)

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