On Friday night, Miss Pole Dance Oklahoma contestants slide into Will Rogers Theatre for the only competition of its kind in the state. This is its second year.
“It’s going to be a sporting event. It’s a competition,” said organizer Hope Schmerfeld, operations manager and head instructor of Pole Zone and Aerial Fitness in Norman. “It’s not going to be anything like the clubs.”
Competitors will be scored similarly to gymnastic events, judged on such aspects as technique, strength, musicality and uniqueness.
In addition to pole dancing, spectators can expect be belly dancing and a performance by the local Perpetual Motion Dance troupe.
First-time competitor Rachele Ribera, a 24-year-old student at the University of Oklahoma, got hooked on pole dancing by accident in 2010, when she wanted to take a dance class. The only one available that day happened to be a pole class at Teaze Dance & Fitness in Oklahoma City.
“It’s about going out there and presenting something I’m proud of,” Ribera said.
Coming from an artistic family, pole dancing is a way for her to expel artistic energy while simultaneously satisfying a competitive side she honed while playing sports as a kid.
2012 U.S. Pole Dance Champion Michelle Stanek is slated to judge the competition, as well as give workshops on Saturday to pole-fitness enthusiasts.
Friday’s show is all-ages, and guests can enter a raffle to win products from vendors in the pole-dancing industry.
As people within the industry push to make pole dancing an Olympic sport, Schmerfeld said she sees a bright future for it in Oklahoma.
“More studios [are] opening up,” she said. “More people [are] recognizing [pole dancing] and doing it and talking about it in a very positive manner.”