The lighter side of pole dancing

The thought of pole dancing, for many people, elicits the idea of sensuality, beauty and grace. But pole dancing can also be funny.

For a Halifax pole and aerial competition in March, Jordi Segers donned a familiar outfit for his performance. The Charlottetown, P.E.I. resident wore the well known black and yellow suit of Batman. The comic book Bruce Wayne may slide down a pole to fight crime, but Seger’s Batman flipped and spun around a pole to take home the gold.

The fourth annual Halifax Theatrix pole and aerial competition took place last month at inesS (Studio in Essence) in downtown Halifax. The competition’s categories are aerial hoop, pole art, pole amateur, low pole flow, pole doubles, and pole comedy.

For pole comedy, athletes are judged on athleticism, trick difficulty, and ability to entertain the audience. Segers took home first place in pole comedy this year.

“It comes naturally because I don’t find I am as graceful as all the other people that I am around that do pole dancing,” says Segers.

The idea for the Batman character came from Segers’s job as a bat biologist. Inspiration for the choreography was a little harder to find. He says that a lot of online pole dancing videos are not comedic. This led him to draw from his dance experience.

In his Batman routine he danced the Charleston to fight off a foe and to celebrate his victory, he danced the Tranky Doo. Those are common high-energy swing and dance moves “that kind of just put a smile on your face and when people see you dancing, they feel that you are having fun with it,” says Segers.

In-between tricks on the pole, performers often dance off it as well, using the floor space and the pole itself. 

Segers grew up in the Netherlands, just outside Amsterdam, coming to Halifax to study biology from Saint Mary’s University. He then moved to P.E.I. for work, discovering pole dance (AKA “pole sport”). 

Segers has always been interested in acrobatics and also loves climbing. “Whenever I see a tree with nice branches, I need to climb it,” he says. Knowing a couple people who did pole dancing at the Aerial Warehouse in Charlottetown, it seemed like the perfect fit. “I joined and then never wanted to do anything else.” 

Halifax Theatrix was Segers’s first competition. “It was never about the competition, I really wanted the opportunity to perform this Batman pole antics somewhere,” said Segers. “The big prize for me is being able to perform there and see all the other amazing artists perform what they have been working on for so long.”

Segers says most likely he will not be bringing the Batman character back for another pole routine, yet he may bring the caped crusader to another kind of dance: burlesque.

One of the people Segers got to see preform at Halifax Theartix was Kaitlyn Blatt-Janmaat of Halifax, the runner up of the pole comedy category. 

Kaitlyn Blatt-Janmaat. Photo: Stoo Metz

Blatt-Janmaat and Segers have a lot in common. Blatt-Janmaat also did biology at Saint Mary’s, graduating last year with honours in chemistry and a major in biology. When she learned that Segers had also taken science at Saint Mary’s she wasn’t surprised.

“We are all socially awkward nuggets is what it is, we can’t take ourselves seriously,” she said. 

She also doesn’t think of herself as particularly graceful. “I kind of did comedy as a way to still be able to do some performance aspect of pole, even though I don’t necessarily have a graceful dance/gymnast background,” says Blatt-Janmaat.

Blatt-Janmaat started the sport when she and a friend attended an inesS $12 intro class. She hasn’t stopped since. Blatt-Janmaat has now competed in Pole Art Canada 2019 and in Halifax Theatrix twice. In her first year at Halifax Theatrix, she competed in the amateur category, and that was when she discovered pole comedy. 

For her performance this year she took on the role of a serious ballerina. The twist was that the ballerina’s stereo was broken and would change songs every 30 to 40 seconds, forcing the once serious ballerina to humorously adapt to the constantly changing tune. 

“I like to laugh so I try and think of ways to make other people laugh. I tend to have more fun that way,” she says, adding that when she is able to let go and have fun she normally preforms well because she isn’t as self-conscious. 

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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