Arts & Culture

Poler Bears put on annual holiday performance

‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ draws large crowds, features student choreography

Staff Writer
Monday, December 4, 2017

On Friday night, the Poler Bears performed the “Nightmare Before Christmas,” their third annual holiday-themed show at The Dark Lady nightclub in downtown Providence. The show was highly successful, drawing large crowds to watch members of the Ivy League’s first pole dancing club perform numbers that they had choreographed themselves.

Half an hour before doors opened, a line had already formed outside The Dark Lady. Showgoers stood eagerly in the frigid cold, excited to see the Poler Bears’ newest performance. Inside, the theme was apparent, with tinsel snowflakes hanging from the ceiling and wrapped presents on the base of the dancing poles. Over blaring music, audience members danced and chatted amongst themselves for almost an hour while some of the Poler Bears improvised choreography on poles before the actual show commenced.

The show was comprised of solo performances by each of the club’s members, as well as a few duets. A performer in drag clad in jolly holiday garb directed the festivities, reading each Poler Bear’s self-written introduction between numbers. The numbers spanned a variety of choreography styles, from those cabaret-inspired to others with acrobatic influences. The show culminated grandly in a sensational performance by Adam Moreno ’18 in tall platform black combat boots to Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” as a smoke machine blasted vapor across the stage. The crowd went wild.

“The final act blew me away,” said Kate Callahan ’21. Moreno “just had so much stage presence.”

The more casual nightclub setting marked a departure from the Poler Bears’ usual campus venues, like Alumnae Hall or Production Workshop’s Upspace, said Moreno, the club’s president. “The audience we’re allowed to have (in The Dark Lady) is much bigger, … so it’s been great to have more people come to our shows.”

“All of our friends are here (tonight); it’s an incredibly supportive environment,” said Julia Tompkins ’18, the club’s social chair. “This is a really earnest team (with) people who are committed to honing their craft but also really like having fun together.”

“We’ve really strengthened as a team, … in terms of prioritizing bonding and social activities because there’s such a steep learning curve,” Moreno said. “This year, we haven’t had anyone drop, and I’ve noticed the team (to be) a lot closer.”

The group prides itself in its diversity in both skill level and body type, Moreno said. “We take people of all backgrounds. We don’t use (pole dancing experience) as a requirement.” People choreograph their own material and can perform whatever they want to, he added.

Axel Getz ’18, a member of the Poler Bears for four years, said, “I’m really excited about my parents coming. They haven’t seen (me perform) since I was a freshman. … They’re in for a fantastic show.”

Since the club’s founding in 2006, its main goal has been to destigmatize pole dancing through an emphasis on the activity’s athleticism, artistry and the empowerment of performers themselves, Moreno said. “A lot of people … have some sort of stigma (associated with pole dancing), … but if anyone comes to one of our shows, that’s immediately erased,” he added.

The Poler Bears’ performance also commemorated World AIDS day, and The Dark Lady invited AIDS Care Ocean State to provide free HIV testing at the event, Moreno said.

The performance was an “out-of-body experience,” said Bryan Olivo ’20. “That was incredible.”