Monday, November 24, 2014

Movie Review: "Off The Floor: The Rise of Contemporary Pole Dancing" (2013)

Movie"Off the Floor: The Rise of Contemporary Pole Dancing"
Director: Katherine & Matthew Celia
Year: 2013
Rating: ---
Running Time: 1 hour, 24 minutes
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Jessica is a dancer living in Los Angeles. She has studied dance all of her life and even in college at UCLA. She recently fell in love with the art of pole dancing and hopes to revolutionize the style. She forms a dance troop called Jagged with the intent of combining modern dance and pole dancing into a choreographed show that can tell a story. What she hopes to accomplish is to change the stigma that pole dancing is strictly for strippers and nightclubs. She wants to legitimize it as a mainstream dance style, but this proves difficult because of these 'negative' associations. Jessica and Jagged hope to break this stereotype and show how beautiful poll dancing really can be.

We decided to watch this documentary during the Big Bear Lake International Film Festival on a whim. It was the last film we saw at the festival and one of the best, too. We and probably most others in the world have been conditioned to think of a "stripper" when you hear the phase "pole dancing." Usually, it involves scantily clad women AND men in seedy dive bars shakin' their naughty bits for money. That, or anti-feminism. We had no idea there was an entire subsection of dancing dedicated to using a pole as a form of expression, storytelling and art through choreographed dance. When we saw the women of Jagged first begin to dance on the pole, we were struck by how extremely impressive the moves looked and how it all flowed as one cohesive unit. There is such a high degree of athleticism involved in this dance form that we didn't even realize! One wrong move and BAM, you're on the floor and in pain. It obviously takes a lot of hard work and effort to not only perform, but to set up, to practice, and to choreograph, especially considering the majority of the women in the troupe are doing so out of passion while holding down daytime jobs at the same time. Men are rarely if ever involved in this particular troupe's event; the women themselves set-up and breakdown their own sets, plan their outfits and choreograph their own moves, everything is done in-house. On the rare occasion that they are able to secure a gig, most of the time, the women are unpaid and only train and dance because of their love of their art form. The negative association of pole dancing has cost them a lot, and this documentary even has a scene in the beginning of the film where Jessica, the founder of Jagged, calls around to try to find a venue so she can book her show, only to be hung up on as soon as pole dancing is mentioned. The dance troupe was even lucky enough to try out for two television reality competition shows, "America's Best Dance Crew" and "America's Got Talent," yet the stigma was so strong that the judges had a hard time disassociating Jagged's act from stripping. In fact, all the judges, one male judge in particular, focused on how their dancing aroused him, judging them less on their actual moves and more on how it made his penis feel.

This was an entertaining and eye-opening documentary on a subject very few people will have heard of outside of their own preconceived notions. Jessica is a self-made woman, an idealist and an entrepreneur who wants to enlighten others and break the mold about pole dancing. We watch her go from enthusiast to multiple dance studio owner over the course of a few short years. As her art form slowly gains acceptance, we hope that one day people will be able to perform this unnoticed and remarkable form of dance without taking off their clothes or joining a French Canadian cirque troupe to do it.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: ---
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ---
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
To learn more about this movie:
-Like the "Off the Floor" Facebook page
-Follow @poledanceisart on Twitter

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