By Alison Tedford – Brett Stanley’s Underwater Pole Fitness series is definitely making a splash on the Internet. It is so innovative and beautiful. It’s capturing the imagination of viewers along with the submerged artistry of the dancers. It turns out, water is the perfect medium to distill and amplify the diverse facets of pole dance itself.
Because of its artistic beauty, the level of difficulty in pole dance isn’t immediately obvious. With practice, it appears to be effortless. By bringing the dance underwater, the level of difficulty is easier to appreciate and observe. The strenuous nature of pole dance is highlighted when the dancers need to hold a pose and their breath at the same time.
Execution of difficult movements requires a working understanding of momentum. In a zero gravity environment, the required pressure and force must be recalculated. This is not unlike the adjustments required when making a transition between static and spin poles. Entering a movement on a spin pole with the same amount of momentum used on a static pole can have surprising and unintended results.
Proponents of pole dance are eager to relay that it is a practice for everybody and every body type. Whether curvy, thin or athletic, there is room for dancers of all shapes and sizes.
The result of variety in wardrobe selected was a demonstration the vast range of pole dance expression. The exquisite gowns reflect the elegance of pole dance. Other outfits show case athleticism and sensuality. In the absence of movement, these articles of clothing interpret and communicate the many moods and intentions performances can have.
Similarly varied are the models depicted. These women represent the way pole dance appeals to participants of all ethnicities, age groups and body types. It speaks to the universality of the sport. Proponents of pole dance are eager to relay that it is a practice for everybody and every body type. Whether curvy, thin or athletic, there is room for dancers of all shapes and sizes. The more mature models reinforce that it’s never too late to start dancing.
When asked about the body diversity in his photographs, Mr. Stanley explained, “I didn’t specifically seek out different body types for the project, it just seems indicative of the scene in New Zealand. People don’t seem held back by their particular shape and see pole as a valid way to keep fit.”
Moving photography of pole dance from a studio or club setting to the pool is another way of showing pole dance in a different light. Pools are associated with recreation and fitness. The use of the pool in pole dance photography reinforces the linkage to recreational and athletic dance forms, eliminating exclusively sensual conceptions. The absence of an audience reframes dance as something done for the dancer herself and not for the gaze of others.
The water itself is really effective in capturing the essence of pole dance. The use of bubbles plays on the movement that isn’t easily captured in a static photograph. The fizzing tendrils reveal motions that transpired before the final pose, allowing the viewer to imagine the dance without being able to witness it while in progress. The use of water is an acknowledgement of the fluidity of the dancer’s movements.
On the subject of this and other projects, Mr. Stanley said, “I do plan on continuing the series and encourage people to get in touch with me if they’d like to be part of it. I’m based in Los Angeles but travel quite often. I’m also wanting to expand with other sports as well.” With the exceptional beauty of these photographs and the simplistic manner in which they convey this sport’s complexity, it is exciting to imagine the products of Mr. Stanley’s future endeavours.
Behind the scenes video and a full gallery of images can be seen here. All images republished here with permission.
About the contributor
Alison Tedford, a single mom of one rambunctious boy, from Abbotsford, BC. She is a data analyst, a pole dance instructor, an eating disorder support group facilitator and fitness enthusiast. She documents her adventures in fitness, feminism and parenting on her blog, Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops. You can follow Sparkly Shoes on Facebook and Twitter.