Categories: MovementPole Dance & Fitness

Let’s Talk About Pole Dance Styles & Ways it Relates to Other Sports

Pole, pole dance, pole fitness, pole art, and pole sport – whatever you’d like to call it – is becoming more common among women and men in the United States… and you better start getting used to it! What began as a form of nightlife entertainment with strippers and showgirls has evolved into an industry of not ONLY entertainment, but also sport, artistry, and straight-up fitness. Today, there are pole dance styles influenced by gazillions of backgrounds. There is room for all to enjoy!

Before we get into things, I do believe the pioneers of pole dance deserve a big shoutout & thank you. They were the ones who broke into the industry, creating and paving a road for artistic exploration with their bold, badass selves.  They have given us the best of sexy pushups, fireman spins, butterfly, and static rotation, among many other moves. Without them, all us current and future polers would not have the solid foundation we’re hashtag blessed with. thanks y’aaaall!

How is pole like dance, gymnastics, and figure skating?

As a classically trained dancer, I was immediately drawn to the artistic side of pole that focuses on expression, musicality, and connection. I LIVE for that connection between music, feels, and movement.

If you grew up as a competitive dancer, or really just living, breathing, and sweating it…you know damn well that once you graduate from school there really aren’t many opportunities to continue dancing. Except for in front of the bathroom mirror or scoping out adult dance classes.

Anyways, pole is really such an incredible activity because it enables movement that is extremely dynamic and powerful – just like dance. It’s the whole moving and connecting to the music thing , blah, blah, whatever genre the music.


Pole Dance Styles Contemporary and Flow


But how is it like figure skating?

The whole blah, blah establishing connection to music is one part of it, but another part of it is physics! For pole and figure skating alike, athletes have to keep in mind the rotation and momentum of their movements.

There are some crazy skating moves where the athlete glides around doing their graceful thing. Then OUT OF NO WHERE they whip out some some triple axle sow cow thing (something like that?!?!) and bippity bop, they’re now randomly flipping over their skating partner’s head. Like what???

So how does this relate to pole? Well both are pretty ballsy activities if you ask me. If you aren’t familiar with the two settings of pole, here they are: spin pole and static pole. When your pole is on spin mode, the pole itself spins. The dancer is able to control rotational speed by how much push they get from the ground. Another way to control speed is by extending body parts further away from the pole to slow down, or bringing everything closer to the center to speed up.

It’s that whole thing figure skaters do when spinning. When they pull their arms close to their bodies, they speed up. Then they suddenly extending a leg, and they slow down. Pretty much, they’re all spinning badasses. #physics.

Static pole, on the other hand, does NOT spin. The dancer is responsible for 100% of the momentum and rotation. Two professional polers who really have it down are Oona Kivela from Helsinki, and Nadia Sharif from the USA. Their uses of momentum have created incredible and badass spins. Check out the Oona Spin and the Chinese Phoenix Spin.

Momentum is also HUGE with figure skating. With their momentum and the angle at which their toe hits the ice…they could make or break a jump. The success of certain spins (pole) and jumps (skating) is highly dependent on the momentum leading up to the moves.

All this overlap is pretty awesome, but let’s move on.


And gymnastics?

I didn’t realize it when I first started, but pole is so much like gymnastics. Reason 83910283 I am obsessed with pole…because I get to do flippy and handstand things, which I NEVER did during my dance days. Gymnastics classes were always a no-no during my childhood because it was risky and scary to watch for my parents…but look at me now!!! Flips for dayz, momma & poppa!

Pole is like gymnastics because it takes an incredible amount of guts, trust, and YOLO-ing. You CANNOT overthink moves, or else your brain will talk your body out of doing things.

I mean, with pole you begin with your basic spins and climbs. Then, you start hanging by random body parts, and performing pole drops, and flipping off the pole. WHAT. y’all crazy. 😉

Last thing…Pole can be seen baaaaasically as gymnastics on a vertical bar. The only difference between the two is the amount of clothing we wear (hahaha) and the orientation of the pole (okay, ballet, too).

Side Note: Minimal clothing is CRUCIAL for pole. It provides the perfect grip we need to stick onto the metal. Our skin gives us secure grip, stability, and safety! But… we also like cute pole wear that doubles as cute beach wear 😉

So there  you have it, pole is the perfect balance of all these sports. OF COURSE there are other sports and modes of movement that overlap, but these were just the few I decided to compare pole to.

Did this seem like a lot to take in? Well ya peeps better buckle up! Let’s talk different STYLES now!


Some pole dance styles

You need to know that pole is what you decide to make of it. It’s what the individual decides to adopt as his or her own.

It’s fluid and constantly evolving. Just because you’ve seen it most commonly one way, does NOT mean it doesn’t exist in any other way. With an extremely active international social media platform (see IG tags #polecommunity #unitedbypole #poledancenation), we’re constantly feeling inspired by our pole fam around the world.

So without further ado, here are the most common pole dance styles of in no particular order:

  • exotic, sexy, or “classic”
  • drama
  • comedy & entertainment
  • contemporary & flow
  • fitness

Exotic, Sexy, or “Classic”

Exotic/sexy pole AKA “Classic” (or classiqué if you’re tryna be fancy) is the what the general public visualizes when they think “pole”. Heels on heels on heels, really sexy floowork, body rolls, and of course…booty twerks. Just as the name suggests, the purpose of this category is to bow chicka wow wow & cue Marvin Gaye.

A huge part of sexy pole is to wear platform high heels and master the art of not tripping. It’s really freaking hard (for me at least). I bought a pair of gold heels about nine months into my training and since then, I’ve worn them about 5 times.

The times I HAVE worn them I definitely glimpsed into the lives of badasses who wear them all the time. Wearing heels = major confidence booster, height booster (obviously), and instant sexy.

It’s also amazeballs because LEGS FOR DAYS, but it really is challenging to dance in heels. You have to readjust your skills because you’ve added inches to your legs.


Pole classiqué category has many styles under it. There are those who like it slow & sensual, and there are those who like jamming it out to hard rock. Then there are those like it Russian style, and there are those who like it in drama form. And that’s not even all. There are so many more!

Although this currently isn’t my go-to category, there are phenomenal dancers you need to see!

Here are two amazing exotic dancers:

  • Olga Koda. Trains like a badass, and is a major powerhouse.
  • Daria Che. Smooth & controlled. Ugh, amazing


Pole drama consists of dramatic performances. duhhhhh! These routines tell stories of all sorts. I’ve been a crying audience member before, but the performer has to be reallllly good to be able to make the audience cry.

Stage presence, audience connection, solid storyline, great music choice, and of course appropriate choreography all factor into quality of dramatic performance. I’d say the most important of all these is to have amazing stage presence. Win the audience members. If they connect with you…game over. you win.

Here are two really great dramatic performances you NEED to watch:

Contemporary & Flow

Let’s talk about movement and music connection again.  Seriously though, these are huge focuses for pole flow & contemporary pole.

This category is very dance-y and choreographed. This style has foundations of various dance styles, anything ranging from tango to ballet.

I’d say the overall goal is to make movements nice and smooth. Smooooth like butter!

Since this is handsdown my favorite category, I’m going to give a lot of my favorite dancers. Watch, watch, watch!

  • Marlo Fisken – incredible creative mind. Simply amazing, IDK what else to say.
  • Olga Trifonova – 15 year old. Incredible dancer and performer
  • Sergia Louise – very dance-y!
  • Peter Holoda – classically trained ballet dancer and gorgeous movement connection.


This pole dance style might be the MAJORITY of people who pole. Pole fitness consists of lots of conditioning and flexibility. You go from not having “any” upper body strength, to being able to hold your body weight and whipping out pull-ups!

I’m basing this off of personal experience, but it seems people are typically in the game of pole for a change in workout or to boost that self confidence, and I love that!

It’s not until performance opportunities come up that they even think about performing and deciding on what style or music they like!

Pole fitness class is just the gateway category into a whole world or artistry, creativity, and sport.

You’ve been warned 😉


Biggest takeaways

Welp! That might have been information overload!

So to sum up, here are the main points:

  • Pole is very special; it is a melting pot of previous experiences that creates new styles constantly.
  • Pole dance has components of other sports, such as dance, figure skating, and gymnastics.
  • Pole can easily be personalized to how you like it. You unique snowflake 😉
  • Each category is incredible and fun to watch.

okay, that is enough. talk to you lil’ pumpkins later!


– grace


Grace @ Gracitude :