Pole positions: W’burg show hopes to prove pole dancing is serious art

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Pole dancing is no longer just for strippers and Linsday Lohan.

A Brooklyn dance company is bringing a gritty pole dancing show to a secret Williamsburg space on May 1 and 2, in the hopes of flipping the art’s strip-club stereotype on its head and proving that its performances are fit for the legitimate stage.

“It’s a reimagining of what pole dancing can be in the theater world,” producer Alice Dugan said. “We want to be able to have a show where people go for a ‘pole dance’ show, and they go out of it thinking, ‘I didn’t even remember that there were poles there.’”

The Pulse Project, founded by former Brooklyn Academy of Music choreographer and aerialist Brook Notary in 2011, has already put on two shows drawing inspiration from a host of movement and dance styles, including acrobatics and parkour. The company’s third and upcoming performance, “She IS,” will feature a bevy of vignettes titled “Grounded,” “Reckless,” and “Bound,” and will highlight the tunes of Jimi Hendrix and Beyonce. The entire spectacle has a distinctly urban and female vibe, said Dugan.

“It’s going to be an incredibly industrial feel, from color to theme,” she said. “It’s really conceptually different.”

The all-woman cast, helmed by 2012 US pole dance champion Michelle Stanek, will utilize ropes, scaffolding, bungees, and even the performers’ own shirts and socks, which they will use to slip around the poles. Dugan and Notary have also raised more than $20,000 on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter in the hopes of buying a customized aerial truss for the show, which would help keep the poles upright.

The Pulse Project does not claim to be a specifically feminist group, but the duo is adamant that pole dancing inspires female empowerment and that the negative connotation of pole dancing — namely, that it is only for strippers — is bogus.

“It makes you feel incredibly in control of yourself,” Dugan said. “For us, we really like people to understand that it’s an extension of the body.”

“She IS” at secret Williamsburg location. May 1 and 2 at 8:30 pm. Tickets and more information at

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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