Courtesy of Hopparazzi
Poletential instructor Jennifer Alvarado performs at a previous AirShow.
Hanging upside down in contorted positions 20 feet in the air sounds like it should be a sporting event right? It is for those at Redwood City’s Poletential, they’ve prepared a sensational show highlighting the artistic athleticism they say is modern pole dancing.
Saturday, Redwood City’s Fox Forum will host the sixth AirShow where curious spectators watch as professional aerial performers dangle, climb, twist and twirl. Christine Kish, Poletential co-owner, said attendees should expect one thing.
“Amazement. There will be times where they’ll just be watching with their mouth wide open in awe,” Kish said. “It’s a fun time because the music is great, the bar’s open, the flight attendants make it a lot of fun and the skill level, you’re seeing normal people up there. You’re seeing people who haven’t done this their entire lives. So as an audience member, you can relate to what it’s taken to get on stage.”
Kish, 49, said she too wouldn’t have expected to be performing on a stage eight years ago. Prior to taking her first exercise pole dancing class, Kish said she earned a master’s in business administration and was one of the founders of Netflix. She said her strong business and marketing background paired with her love of fitness made opening the studio an ideal move.
“I started it because I took a pole class and loved it. I kind of retired from Silicon Valley life … and I figured other people would want to do it as well,” Kish said.
This season’s AirShow is made up of 14 acts, which will be threaded with some dressed as flight attendants entertaining the audience during breaks, Kish said. Male and female professional competitors and instructors will put themselves and their creative on works on display, Kish said.
“It’s somewhat gaudy and fun but we like to make sure everyone’s having a great time. One of our things we talk about is we fly or dance in the sky, so dancing in the sky is a big part of what we like to bring to people who don’t understand what we do. So we like to use that as a theme and we use that taking an airplane ride as an analogy,” Kish said.
The Fox Forum is an ideal venue as the ceilings are 20 feet tall and “allows the audience a much better show because of the skill level of tricks and performances they get to watch,” Kish said.
Various forms of aerial dance including pole, fabric, straps, hammock, static trapeze and hoops, Kish said. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma to pole dancing, however, this fairly new translation is now considered a healthy and creative form of exercise, Kish said.
“I wish I could sit here eight years later and say ‘we did it. We broke the stereotype.’ But we didn’t. People need to see it in a way that’s not sensual or erotic dance and that’s one of the reasons we did the show. Because it’s pure entertainment, it’s art and it’s athleticism,” Kish said. “It just grew so fast into a sport, a dance form. You see it now, it’s just much more prevalent in performances whether it’s Cirque du Soleil or on ‘[So] You Think You Can Dance’ on TV.”
Currently, there are about 18 instructors at Poletential and many who are involved came from unrelated backgrounds, Kish said.
“One of the professionals coming in was an engineer, one was a marketing rep for Red Bull. These people come at it from their ordinary, regular lives and they find this addiction to put their athletic energy in and their creative energy in,” Kish said.
Another Poletential convert is instructor Tiffany Rose, 33, who was on the U.S. national team for synchronized swimming. Rose said she earned a degree in personal fitness training and outside of Poletential, teaches classes at NASA headquarters and Google.
“It’s a great way to be physical and artistic at the same time and it’s another one of those sports, like [synchronized swimming], which is you can be an athlete and expressive. There’s a beauty in all athleticism, but [pole dancing] is a great way to be artistic. Telling stories as they perform, that’s important in the sport, it’s part of the art,” Rose said.
Rose said she started pole dancing about four years ago and it’s not an easy activity to master. Falling, burns, sore feet and calluses in places you never imagined are part of the territory, Rose said.
But it’s an athletic profession both Rose and Kish said they adore.
“It is the only thing I’ve ever found where I completely forget what I’m supposed to be doing,” Kish said. “When I’m in the studio I don’t think about my to-do list, I’m truly just in my body listening to the music.”
AirShow is 18 and over, Saturday, May 3 at Fox Forum in Redwood City. Tickets are $40 in advance, $45 on day of event. Doors open 7 p.m. and the show starts 8 p.m. For more information visit www.poletential.com.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106