I was fortunate enough to have the chance to meet him at one of his workshops he held in Izola, Slovenija at studio “Pole fitness Pantera”. Dimitry Politov is well known for his unique acrobatic moves and insane flips, he won several championships and he is also the international judge. So he can definitely be called a pole star!
Dear Dimitry, first I want to thank you for accepting this interview here at Boomkats. We all admire you! You are an incredible athlete and it’s a privilege to get the knowledge that you’ve shared with us in a workshop like this.
After all this time you’ve been teaching, there are still more women than men in your workshops.
Yes, it’s true.
Why do you think it’s like that?
Pole dance is becoming more and more popular also for men, but very slowly. Still, I think a lot of people don’t start pole dancing because they want to be a famous athlete doing incredible tricks. People do it just for the fun of it, you know, and because it’s fashionable. They get inspired by videos of female pole dancers on Youtube and Instagram. Of course, there are guys as well and very good guys.
Most of the people that come to the pole they get inspired by females because there are loads of videos of female pole dancers on Youtube. At the beginning of the pole dance, there were mostly girls involved and the focus was more on being more sexual and beautiful rather then sportive. Later on, when moves and tricks started to come from Chinese poll and circus acrobatics, more guys got involved. And also street workout is very influential! Many guys training parkour are doing tricks on poles in the parks now – just like I did. So guys come and try to express themselves, try to achieve something and they get involved more and more in this industry. So hopefully I think there will maybe the same amount of male and female pole dancers soon.
Yes, I will keep my fingers crossed! We would love to see more guys in pole studios and at the workshops and at the competitions!
I know that many female pole dancers look up to you. Do you think it’s possible for a woman to achieve this hard acrobatic tricks that you do on the pole or are they reserved for men only?
No, I think you can achieve anything you wish. It depends on how much you wish it and how hard you’re trying to do it. Plus it depends on time and your background. If you didn’t do any sport before in the past, then, of course, it will be harder for you. But if you did some sport like gymnastics than it will be easier for you. I know a lot of girls who do tricks and they are very well at it.
After so many experiences with teaching woman pole dance, what are the major differences between woman and man body for achieving the tricks and moves on the poll? Are we women detracted in some way or better at something?
Yeah, the difference is, of course, the flexibility most females have and the strength which guys have, but sometimes there are exceptions, you can never tell. These characteristics are given by nature. Man is supposed to be stronger and explosive and woman supposed to be more flexible and more flowy in her motion. But I know a lot of examples which can be exceptions from the rules.
It’s the perfect combination when you have both, the flexibility and the strength.
Yes, for sure! For example, my biggest problem is my flexibility. I work hard on it and I waste more time on my flexibility rather than my flips and tricks. But I still keep on practicing when I am trying to put flips and tricks together in the training and not to lose anything.
Do you progress rapidly?
At flexibility, not very much. Very very slowly (laughs). But I never stop searching for the right practice to stretch myself. The search doesn’t mean to try one thing the first day and the second day something else. No, on one practice you need to spend one or two years so you can understand if it works for you or not. And then you can change it. So, it’s a very long process for me. A slow journey.
What must be woman careful most when training pole acrobatics?
Of course, you have to cover the floor and use pole crash mats. If you try to do something without preparation, unless you are a gymnast and you have done this flip somewhere else, you should have put a lot of mats. And some person standing by who can support you, who is stronger than you and can prevent you from breaking something. This is the most important, I think.
And of course, understanding and realizing what you are doing. Not underestimating the move. You have to break down the movement into many, many pieces to understand each and every single piece.
Kenneth Kao does his video tutorials with no words, just like you said, step by step. From beginner to advance move. And I love his tutorials. They’re easy to understand.
They’re very good. Yeah, I like them a lot.
You are quite famous for not having any official training and you learned all on your own. I know a lot of girls who tried to learn some pole dance moves on their own just watching YouTube channels and online tutorials. What it takes for someone to train on her/his own? For sure that’s a bit dangerous regarding the injuries.
I had some injuries but they weren’t very dangerous because I always try to put a lot of control in what I do and especially when I train alone. When I do some flips or dangerous stuff, I always try to prevent myself from injuries. So I protect myself with closing the area with maths and trying to do the trick step by step and do it maybe 100 times until I skip to the next step. It’s not like … some people think I am crazy, that I just come and do it from the first try. No, I go step by step.
We rarely see you with pole shorts. Most of the time you perform with clothes on. How come? Because it takes uncredible strong grip for performing with clothes on!
Yeah, there are several reasons for that! The main reason is my leg line. If you see me in shorts, my leg line is not perfect even if I straighten my leg in the knee to the maximum. It’s a broken line and it doesn’t look beautiful so I have to hide it with pants. So I cover my disadvantage like that, and of course, with the fast moves too so the audience doesn’t see the broken lines (laughs). But still, I keep on working very hard on flexibility.
At the same time, another thing that wearing pants gave me, is a stronger grip with legs in the positions on the pole without hands. With a training like this, I can hold the pole just with my feet. So it gave me also a very good skill.
Thank you for sharing that with us! I like this kind of personal stories because many women nowadays are ashamed of their imperfections. We are somehow pressured by the media to be perfect.
Then use your imperfection for your own good! Hide it or benefit from it. Don’t your imperfections stop you from doing what you love. Also, your imperfection can help you bring more of your own style and more magic.
Before pole dance, you’ve trained parkour, which explains your acrobatics skills. Do you have any other training besides pole? Your favorite one… gymnastic, stall bars maybe?
When I’m not on tour, when I’m at home and I don’t have to rush, I go out every morning. We have bars and I do regular pull-ups. I used to do them with different grips and holds. So every morning I do 20-25 pull-ups, it’s like a coffee to me. I do it just keep my muscles toned. That’s my favorite exercise.
Recently I’ve started doing push-ups because I’ve realized everything I do is mostly based on pull-ups so some muscles just don’t work and involve so much as they could and I get the feeling that I’m much weaker. So at this point now I also practice different variations of push-ups.
How about the lower part of the body, the quadriceps? They are not much used in pole dancing but its good to have them fit. Do you have any special workout for lower part of the body?
Yes, I have, but I’ve started doing it recently because I’ve changed the way of stretching. This is a kind of stretching with the workout. It’s an advice from different friends, contortionists, and gymnasts. So every morning when I wake up, when I open my eyes, even before I go to bath, I do 20 swings with each leg. But not explosive swings, but controlled ones to feel all the muscles and especially to stretch quadriceps and straighten the legs. I try to hold them, keep them apart, straight and press as much as I can. So this gives me more control and at the same time muscles become warmer and more stretched.
Every pole dancer has a story about how he/she became acquainted with a pole dance. So what’s your story?
I was inspired by Remi Martin. A guy from Germany. He is a chinese pole athlete, acrobat and his performance in French TV show called “Le Plus Grand Cabaret” totally inspired me! For those times, it was very unique that he wore clothes, the performance was very stylish and at the same time a bit romantic. With a lot of strength movements and drops, and I was like “WOW”. So then I started finding myself in this art.
Actually, the first time I saw pole dance was male performance and not until later when I started doing pole dancing myself, I found out that women also do it. (laughs)
Can you tell us a little bit more about differences between parkour and pole dance regarding the training?
Yes, it’s a little bit different. When I first started training pole dance, I did almost the same tricks as I did in parkour. Flips and jumps were easy for me. So I put that basic skills from parkour in pole dance. But when we talk about the differences… there’s not much difference for me because I adopted this style. But if we talk about people who never did parkour tricks, then there’s a big difference.
Actually, parkour is a training discipline using movement that developed from military obstacle course training while a free run is an acrobatic and athletic discipline. So, the difference is big but when I do pole, I try to combine both. Sometimes I adopt flips from wall to the pole or from somewhere else.
So you still find an inspiration in these disciplines?
Yeah, of course. Sometimes I watch some videos of parkour or free run tricks. The idea comes to my head in a second and I just have to try and nail it.
What was the main reason you fell in love in pole?
I think the main reason was the possibility to express myself, to show what I can do in one place, on one vertical bar. Before that, I did parkour and break dance for fun, for freedom, but I didn’t know how to go further with that. I run, I jump… but else to do with these? For me, there’s was no room to express myself. But in pole dance, I saw the possibility to use just one bar to do everything I learned. To show and share my skills with the people, to express my story more widely.
True! Almost every performance you make has a story. This is what I really love about your performances.
What would you change in your pole life and training if you could go back at the beginning?
Actually, I wouldn’t change much. Maybe I would add some more extra hours of stretching and flexibility. That’s it! (laughs)
So what was the turning point in your life when you realized that pole is what you want to do for the rest of your life. Because this is your “job”, right?
Hm, I didn’t really plan to be a person that I am right now. I thought it would be great to do some performances, travel around the world or work in the circus. But after competitions, one thing lead to another, I succeeded and I realized that this way of living it’s a little bit different then I imagined, but I love it!
When you travel, you meet a lot of new people and you can share your skills and knowledge with them. Actually, I couldn’t even say it’s a job. I don’t know what to call it. It’s neither a job nor a hobby. Something in between or both… Yeah, both.
You were competing. You have judged many competitions and you taught on so many workshops. Where your heart sings most and why?
Of course, everywhere are always minuses and pluses. But I like competitions because of the atmosphere and organization part. I like all competitions that I compete in but I miss “Pole Art Cyprus” the most. It was very good competition but now, unfortunately, it is closed. I like pole arts most and those ones where you can tell your story and get more emotional feedback.
Also, pole sport is great, ’cause I get really fit because of it.
Workshops… I like them a lot. There are many places I have been to and I love them. Of course, one of them is Slovenia, because of great atmosphere and Nikky’s hospitality. Actually, it’s my second time here!
I have been to many countries, Latin America, almost whole Europe, and I it was great. People are so nice everywhere!
One of your workshops today is about “Experimental choreography and body control for all levels” which kind of surprise me in the best possible way. I would appreciate maybe few words about this workshop and importance of it.
In this workshop, I give a little piece of choreography. It doesn’t have a story, it’s just based on simple movements that, I think, are not very developed in the pole dance right now. A lot of people do contemporary now, which is great, but sometimes we forget about a clear expression of our movement. Even just a simple move like lifting up your hand could be perceived in a different way. That’s what I call body control – when you can control the movements exactly the same, aligned with the music, beat and words. This choreo just prepares dancers for that and I explain some isolation techniques… how to work on your isolation, how to work with some little body tricks that can be helpful for any choreo, may it be salsa, contemporary etc.
We try to do a little routine like improvisation, like freestyle but, in the end, some character has to appear. But not the one you think it should! You start doing the movements and only after that you get the idea of who you will become.
Pole dance is a little bit frightening, dramatic… when you hanging with your head down for the first time or when you’re not sure if you trust your grip enough… You have to use your mind and psychology the same way you use your body…
Yes, I’ve seen many situations where people started doing the trick but without realizing they are not ready yet to do it. They start and then they change their mind in the middle of the move because they realize that they’re not ready. Now that’s dangerous. Of course, when you do something like that, you’ll probably have an injury and it’s not a good thing. So, it’s better to prepare yourself mentally, to be ready ‘cause there has to be no doubt.
So when do you know you are ready to do the trick?
You have to understand in your head what can happen. And ask yourself, “what must I try and do to come over these factors”? It’s actually a very hard process going on in your head.
When you’re learning some new and dangerous trick do you have anybody with you to help or to assist you?
No, most of the time not. Just a few times when I trained in Moscow we had the possibility to use safety wires. Some friends were helping me with the tricks but most of the time, I’m doing trick on my own, just with crash mats. When you do it on your own, you become more confident. You’re more focused…
Can you share some inspirational thoughts, please… What is the most important lesson regarding pole dance you can give to us, ordinary pole dancers?
There are many things I could tell you about like “yes, train hard”, “be inspired”… But here’s one important thing I’ve learned from parkour: “Whatever move or trick you’re trying – if you are afraid of it, don’t do it. But if you’re already in the position of that move – then don’t be afraid!” It’s short advice but contains extreme philosophy.
Image credit: Dimitry’s Facebook profile I Meet Dimitry Politov on FB: Dimitry Politov