We’re sure you are thinking about pole dancing in terms of a female dancing to upbeat music around a standing pole. However, that’s not the case for this type of pole dancing. Bamboo pole dancing, also known as Tiao Zhugan, is categorized as both a dance and a sport. The dance requires poles of various sizes and is performed in a quick rhythm motion that can be difficult. During community events and celebrations in China’s Hainan province, the Li ethnic group will perform for hours and sometimes throughout the night.
In early traditions, the dance itself was strictly performed by men. The role of the women was to maneuver the bamboo poles at a quick speed for the dancers. Today, both men and women perform together in harmony portraying their native dance to spectators. During the spring season families celebrate in appreciation of the harvest and watch dancers compete for best dance. Flexibility is an important component to competitive bamboo pole dancing. If dancers fail to keep up with the pace of the moving poles, they are eliminated from the dance. The last dancer remaining is lifted by the bamboo pole holders to receive recognition in honor of their achievement.
Approximately eight to ten poles are used for the dance. The poles are then moved in all different directions in various patterns. The movement of the poles signals and determines the direction and pace of the dance. Long bamboo poles that measure five meters from the base are used and placed about 3.5 meters apart. Thinner poles are also used for the top layer and are arranged perpendicular to the larger poles. Four to eight helpers are responsible for holding two of the poles that will be moved and clapped together for the dancers. Most dances begin with alternating foot motions where the dancer will jump forward (quin) and backwards (hou). The challenge is not to get stuck in between the poles during each step order.
No matter what the style, bamboo pole dancing is a beautiful art that is universally known among many cultures. Bamboo is a highly renewable resource that is a natural vehicle for development. Thousands of products have been made out of bamboo and continue to be the material of choice to promote eco-friendly living.
Check out this video below to view a traditional Bamboo Pole dance.