Nelson pole dance teacher Sarah Dodds will host her second competition in Nelson this weekend. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Changing perceptions of pole dancing


Every few weeks the Nelson Weekly sits down to have lunch at Burger Culture with someone interesting doing something interesting. This week we catch up with Sarah Dodds, owner of Pole Artistry Studio Nelson. Sarah is hosting Nelson’s second ever pole competition at the Theatre Royal on Saturday.

Tell me about your background and passion for pole dancing?

Strong is the new sexy and I want to be a ninja on a pole. I never had a background in dance. I remember reading about pole dancing classes in a magazine, but it was Australian and there were no classes in New Zealand. I wanted to be the person to bring that here.

But isn’t pole dancing ‘just for strippers’?

Early on it was very much the perception, but originally It was a man-only sport in India, called mallakhamb. I think everyone is a lot more aware that pole fitness is a thing now as it’s become more popular. It’s a functionality thing, not an aesthetics thing to wear less clothes. You can still maintain your sensuality and femininity and stay and look strong. It’s even under observer status for becoming a sport in the Olympics.

What are some of the benefits?

Dance is cathartic and helps me express myself. Pole is my medicine. It’s empowering, I see women growing in confidence every time, and their achievements are my achievements. We don’t leave the floor and hang upside down on the first day but you can have a really bad day but you still walk away feeling a lot better. There are some really intricate moves that require a lot of strength and flexibility. Everyone tones up, your balance becomes better. And it’s not just women, men come as well.

What prompted you to start running competitions?

I noticed that throughout New Zealand there were a whole lot of amateur competitions and pro competitions but nothing to bridge the gap. That’s where I have brought in the semi pro division. We will have 20 people from around the country coming to compete.

What can we expect from the competition this weekend?

Everything is so fusion now, you have contemporary, jazz, acro, tap and ballet all mixed in. This is the competition which will display that there’s no right way to do pole. We will also have variety acts to break up the routines – from fire eating to burlesque and freak shows. We have our own student entered too. She’s 54, and she’s amazing.

Pole Artistry presents Grand Masters Semi Pro Pole Competition and Variety Show Saturday February 22, 7-10pm, Theatre Royal, Tickets available here, at the Richmond Mall or at the Theatre Royal.