Pole Dancing competition, convention features the best of the best
By Jamie Angio For Sun-Times Media August 24, 2013 8:54PM
Lyndi Rongisch, of Nebraska, competes in the 2011 Great Midwest Pole Dance Competition. The convention and competition will take place again from Aug. 23 to 25, 2013, at the Tinley Park Convention Center. | File photo
If you go
The Midwest pole dance competition and convention is open to the public, 18 years and over. It runs until Sunday. For more information on the event you can visit: www.midwestpoledancing.com.
Updated: October 24, 2013 2:36AM
This wasn’t a disco. It was no country club either. These women (and yes, men, too) had moves that were better than Jagger.
The best of the best in the art and sport of Pole Dancing descended upon the Tinley Park Convention Center on Saturday for Day 2 of the third annual Midwest Pole Dancing Competition and Convention, which draws anywhere between 400-500 people.
Dancers from all over the country and world were showcasing their craft on two 45 mm competition poles that were 10 feet high. One was for static and one for spin.
Blurred lines. Far from plastic. It takes a fit individual to twerk, work, butterfly, Janiro and perform The Remi. Those were just a few moves that us non-dancers could never in a million years begin to think how to work that pole, no matter what age.
In one of the competitions held Saturday night, the North American Masters division, dancers competed in the age range of 40 and over.
Mary Ellen Weissman, event organizer and owner of Empowerment Through Exotic Dance in Frankfort and Chicago Heights, said that people often don’t understand exactly what pole dancing is all about.
“We don’t pretend that it’s not about being sexy, but when it comes to events like this, we’re looking at a performance,” Weissman said.
“Judges are looking for everything they would look for in dance and gymnastics — control, endurance, strength, lines, point and musicality.”
The fine art of dance was on display with Toby J, 37, and his fiancé Suzie Q, 30, both of Australia. The female- male couple pole dancing team performed with grace, sophistication and a high level of skill that amazed the audience.
They incorporated moves and dances that are palpable with their background in acrobatics, trapeze, gymnastics and pole dancing.
From a male perspective in Pole Dancing, Toby J said it’s quite new as far things go because you don’t see a lot of guys.
“But the guys you see tend to do pretty well,” he said. “You’re getting a lot of guys that are coming in now that are dancers, martial arts and gymnasts, that get on the poles and do tricks. A lot of these guys who are strong want to come out and bring masculinity to the pole, not just the dancing perspective. “
Fiyastarta, 33, from Atlanta twerked and jerked to Reggae music, giving the crowd a high-energy performance.
“I came to Chicago because Mary Ellen is a huge pioneer in pole dance,” she said. “She is very instrumental in allowing me to expand my company and travel the world. My background is in backup dance and pole dance. It is a sport, it is an art, and it’s just another form of dance. I’m a dance enthusiast and fitness professional.”
“The twerk is really just a combination of southern dance, just the way Atlanta women move, it’s our Brazilian butt lift,” Fiyastarta said.
Stephanie Davey, 38, of Wisconsin came out to the Pole Dancing competition and convention to see her cousin perform.
“I compare it to like the Cirque du Soleil, it’s more of an art,” Davey said. “It’s definitely talent and strength. I’ve seen some amazing performers. A lot of them with real high dance skills and a lot of them with muscular skills and artistic ability.”
The oldest pole dancer competing in the IPSF (International Pole Sport Federation) is Greta Pontarelli, 62, from Temecula, Calif. She is a world champion in the Masters Division (age 50 and over).
Pontarelli started pole dancing 31/2 years ago to fight off osteoporosis.
“Three and a half years isn’t very long when you’re 62. Osteoporosis runs in my family. They told me either I had to lift weights or if I don’t want to life weights I had to lift my body,” Pontarelli said.
“I went to YouTube and I saw all these fabulous routines and it was so beautiful to watch, so elegant and so graceful, and I was inspired by watching them.”
You go, girl.