I was just thinking about how pole dancing is such a universal sport in that it doesn’t discriminate (i.e. gender, race, etc). Anyone can do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re big or small, tall or short, fit or unfit, and if you’ve never exercised a day in your life. What amazes me is how passion for something and believing in yourself can make you go beyond your limits, pushing your boundaries to where you would have never guessed you could ever be. This is exactly what drives disabled pole dancers to start and continue with what they do. Even if you’re hearing-impaired, visually impaired, or one-armed, nothing is going to tear you away from doing what you love!
When it comes to international support, International Pole Championships (IPC) didn’t just stop at just Male and Female divisions, Pole Art and Pole Fit categories. They also introduced a Disabled division, and that’s a perfect example of how the pole community embrace differences!
Deb Roach, Australia
“Why would a girl with one arm want to pole dance? Why not?” “I learned to challenge my assumptions.”
Pole dancing requires an immense amount of strength and more often than not, having one limb short can make it difficult to perform a move. Climbing the pole itself can prove to be a feat. Most of your weight will have to be borne by one arm! But Australia’s Deb Roach has proven that it can be done, and done amazingly well too!
Deb Roach’s passion for pole started in 2006 when she was inspired by a circus themed double act at a club she was stage dancing at. Encouraged by fellow pole dancers Susie Q and Missy, she began her pole journey. In 2009, she won an amateur pole dancing competition against able-bodied competitors! That win made her realise that “impossible is nothing”! In 2012, Deb bagged Ultimate Pole Champion 2012 in the Disabled Division at the International Pole Championship held in Hong Kong.
More advice from Deb: “More often than not, the thing holding us back is inside us. We just need to choose differently!”
Eri Kamimoto, Japan
“Uniting with music is difficult for me. I began to think that the pole dancing can carry out self-expression.”
Eri Kamimoto was born with hearing disabilities and that has not stopped her from pursuing dance. Inspired by an article on pole dancing in a magazine in 2007, Eri decided to give it a try. Knowing that it would be extremely challenging for her as dance and music go hand-in-hand, it only made her more determined.
In all forms of dance, music is essential. Dance can rarely be performed without music. Music allows you to relate to its rhythm and its variations, melody and mood. From there, you come up with a choreography unique to yourself and it depends on how you personally interpret the song. Not being able to hear the song is a major challenge for anyone who loves music and dance. However, Eri’s belief in herself and her desire to express herself through dance made her overcome it and guess what?
She won Ultimate Pole Champion 2010 in the Disabled Division at the International Pole Championship held in Tokyo!
Marie Dunot, France
“Pole dance has liberated of my disable and for me I’m freedom on my pole flying between sky and earth.”
Marie Dunot first discovered pole dancing on the Internet and once she picked it up, she has never regretted her decision. Her love for pole dancing motivated her to start an association in France with her mother to teach pole dancing classes (for both abled and disabled). She is also a classical dancer.
Being visually impaired can be very challenging for a pole dancer. Sight is important for making distance judgements in dance. Sometimes when I do inverts and slide down to the floor to bust a handstand and find that I can’t feel anything, I start flailing my arms in a bid to touch the ground. Or I would try to slide down further until I can feel the floor.
Marie was the first qualifying disabled competitor for the semi-finals of International Pole Championship 2010.
Reading about these women who never gave up even though they have disabilities was really encouraging. This doesn’t just apply to pole dancing. In fact, it affects every facet of our lives – be it sports, education, work or interpersonal relationships, just to name a few.
So what if you’re not flexible enough to do a split mid-air? So what if you’re still not able to get that elusive pole move you’ve been trying for months? So what if you’ve got sweaty palms and keep slipping on the pole? All these are just minor inconveniences compared to what Deb, Eri and Marie are going through.
What’s your excuse? 🙂