Freestyle Poling is a movement style that blends staff spinning patterns from martial arts traditions with a wide vocabulary of vaults and jumps. A seamless orchestration of applied physics and body artistry, Freestyle Poling emphasizes the intelligent and pragmatic use of momentum to stir, cut and soar though space with surprising ease. This is not a movement style that requires the upper body strength of Olympic gymnasts. A play between release and engagement is the dialogue that makes the work possible. Some enthusiasts have called it ‘aerial dance without having to hang something from the ceiling’ or ‘parkour with a stick’. Even those who do not become full-time Freestyle Polers can enjoy the different information provided to the body by the use of the pole.
In the mid-nineties — while learning martial arts staff forms, playing with a freestyle walking group, and creating a dance piece that involved vaulting off theater light trees — I found these influences converging around a six-foot staff with rubber stoppers. Over the years I met more martial artists and contemporary dancers who worked with some version of a staff, and I researched and borrowed movements from traditional staff dance styles from around the world. Above all I am fortunate to continuously find creative movers willing to join me in playing, experimenting and sweating out this system. The result is Freestyle Poling: a living, growing style with a defined vocabulary and a distinct approach to movement concepts. I have fun with Freestyle Poling, and I find that it enhances and informs the rest of my dance and martial arts training. I enjoy sharing this work with professional dancers, martial artists, and complete physical training novices from the ages of 6 to 60.