Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pole Fitness and the Olympics

There has been a push lately to separate "pole dancing" and "pole fitness" so that pole can be included in the Olympics (and I have been working on a post about the difference between different types of pole dance).  That separation would also somewhat relate back to my post about children and pole dancing. 

The lovely Valentina from Pole Dance Italy has written an article about pole in the Olympics and has translated it to English for us.  Thank you, Valentina!!!

This is the original post in Italian:

Do we really want pole dancing at the Olympics games?

Forget high heels, sparkling costumes and crazy choreography ! We go to the Olympics.

Reading newspapers or press releases of associations in favor of pole dancing to the Olympics, sometimes it occurs to me that this race at the Olympics has done more to elevate the value of the pole dance and make a clean break with the environment of strip club instead of being   recognized for its educational value and the high level reached by sports athletes.

Just watch this video to understand what we mean when we say that pole dancing is a sport.

To bring pole dancing at the Olympics, maybe it's time to stop for a moment and start from the bottom. The national and international organizations should be united for once to find common standards, which would structure the discipline from the basics. This does not mean that the organizers of the many championship around the world are not working good, instead, that means we have to have a common goal and to lay the groundwork for achieving it.

To better understand what is missing to pole dance to make the leap, we looked at the regulations of one of the sports that we think comes closest: gymnastics. Visiting the site of the International Gymnastics Federation FIG is in fact possible to download the technical regulations, found HERE, which we consulted.

Reading the FIG Technical Regulations, 2012, we focus on six aspects that we believe are the most important bases from which to start. The list that follows, is not the absolute truth, but we believe might be the beginning.

Athletes Level
As a very young sport, there aren’t still some specific levels to divide the athlete. In other sports, the levels are often assigned by the age of athletes. If we think of the soccer chicks, newcomers, young, students, juniors and the spring. A regulatory system that regulates and organizes levels, would be useful to unify the championship as well as address training courses in the pole dancing school. In the future it could also mean that the championships will no longer be accessible to everyone as it is now, but limited to age groups. Anyway to overcome this shortcoming, we must find common rules for the certification of the level of athlete.

Elements and Combinations
About this we all know that in any city you go you find a different name for the trick and elements and combos on the pole. Every school, every nation, every region and city uses different names to call the trick, take for instance the Scorpio (reverse and engage with the outside leg) and Gemini (reverse and engage with the inside leg). We all agree? Of course not. It is therefore necessary a common standard for the names of elements and combinations.

In gymnastics championships qualifiers are different according to the discipline. Often, however, are composed of different competitions, held over several days, with the elements and combinations established, or selectable by the candidates on the basis of codes drawn up by organizations. At present the majority of the qualifiers for the national and international championships, is done by sending a filmed choreography that is evaluated by a jury other than that it will judge during the competition. Without going into details of the working of qualifications in gymnastics, we understand that we need common rules for the selection to the championships. Although participation in the future will be bound to send a video, we might think of having two choreographies one with a combination of fixed elements or combo and the other one with elements selectable by the participants from a list of possible combinations. In this way the judges can be impartial and evaluate the technical and executive ability of the athlete.

Evaluation of competing
In some pole dance championships there are two categories under which athletes can participate: Pole Art where is judged the more artistic side of the performance, and the Pole Fit in which it is judge the side more gymnastics. We have to forget it and switch to an evaluation method based on common and precise standards, among which:

    ~ Codes of scores;

    ~ the definition of the value of each element, or combination of elements in an exercise;

    ~ the classification of penalties for performance and execution errors;

    ~ the requirements relating to the composition of the routines, whether compulsory or optional;

    ~ the classification of errors of composition and the penalties applicable;

    ~ the deductions for misconduct, errors, contraventions of the Technical Regulations or any other provisions

This list is not exhaustive, refers to some of the markings on the FIG Technical Regulations 2012, but represents a minimum codification  required in the evaluation methods of participants in competitions of pole dance.

Who are the judges and what skills they have to judge the athletes, we read in the FIG Technical Regulations 2012: “In order to act in any of the judging capacities, it is necessary – except in the case of members of the Executive Committee acting on the Jury of Appeal – to possess the judges' brevet of the FIG currently in force and, where so required, the classification appropriate to the judging function in question.”

It should be noted that in many disciplines to get the judge brevet, you must have practiced the discipline in question and sometimes to have gained a national or international competition. At the time the judges in pole dance are pole dancers  (international or national champions), the representatives of the federations or celebrities in dance or in the show industry. If we stick to FIG regulations, it must be created an institute for the issuance of pole dance competition judge brevet and define minimum standards of access.

In the majority of the pole dance competitions are usually used two poles, one in static and one in spinning mode, positioned at a distance between the one and the other of 2 or 3 meters, with a size ranging from 38 mm (Australia) to 50 mm (United States), chromed steel as the X-Pole, and with a height ranging from 3 meters to 4 meters. The type of pole used is critical, athletes have to train on the pole that will be used in the race and know exactly the location and height of them.

We are of course leaving out many other fundamental aspects, but we believe that those presented in the article are sufficient to open a constructive debate on the subject. We would also like to see the international organizations to sit down together and develop common standards valid worldwide. In Italy we are ready and willing this to happen, and take part in the change.

So, what about you guys?  Are you ready for pole in the Olympics??

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