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Pole-dancing competition features the best of the best

Lyndi Rongisch Nebraskcompetes 2011 GreMidwest Pole Dance Competition. The conventicompetitiwill take place agafrom Aug. 23 25 2013 Tinley Park ConventiCenter.

Lyndi Rongisch, of Nebraska, competes in the 2011 Great Midwest Pole Dance Competition. The convention and competition will take place again from Aug. 23 to 25, 2013, at the Tinley Park Convention Center. | File photo

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If you go

The Midwest pole dance competition and convention is open to the public, 18 years and over. It runs until Sunday. For more information on the event you can visit:

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Updated: September 27, 2013 6:33AM

This wasn’t a disco. It was no country club either. These women — and yes, men, too — have moves that are better than Jagger.

The best of the best in the art and sport of pole dancing showed their stuff on Saturday, Day 2 of the third-annual Midwest Pole Dancing Competition and Convention, which drew 400 to 500 people to the Tinley Park Convention Center.

Dancers from all over the country and the world worked their craft on two 45 mm, 10-foot high competition poles. One was for static and one for spin.

It takes a fit individual to twerk, work, butterfly, Janiro and perform The Remi. Those were just a few of the moves.

In one competition Saturday night, the North American Masters division, dancers were 40 and over.

Many people don’t understand exactly what pole dancing is all about, said Mary Ellen Weissman, event organizer and owner of Empowerment Through Exotic Dance in Frankfort and Chicago Heights.

“We don’t pretend that it’s not about being sexy, but when it comes to events like this, we’re looking at a performance,” Weissman said. “Judges are looking for everything they would look for in dance and gymnastics — control, endurance, strength, lines, point and musicality.”

The fine art of dance was on display with Toby J, 37, and his fiance Suzie Q, 30, both of Australia. They performed with grace, sophistication and a high level of skill that amazed the audience.

They incorporated moves and dances incorporating their background in acrobatics, trapeze, gymnastics and pole dancing.

Toby J said you don’t see a lot of guys in pole dancing.

“But the guys you see tend to do pretty well,” he said. “You’re getting a lot of guys that are coming in now that are dancers, martial arts and gymnasts, that get on the poles and do tricks. A lot of these guys who are strong want to come out and bring masculinity to the pole, not just the dancing perspective. “

Fiyastarta, 33, of Atlanta, twerked and jerked to reggae music, giving the crowd a high-energy performance.

“I came to Chicago because Mary Ellen is a huge pioneer in pole dance,” she said. “She is very instrumental in allowing me to expand my company and travel the world. My background is in backup dance and pole dance. It is a sport, it is an art, and it’s just another form of dance. I’m a dance enthusiast and fitness professional.”

“The twerk is really just a combination of southern dance, just the way Atlanta women move. It’s our Brazilian butt lift,” Fiyastarta said.

Stephanie Davey, 38, of Wisconsin, came to see her cousin perform.

“I compare it to like the Cirque du Soleil. It’s more of an art,” Davey said. “It’s definitely talent and strength. I’ve seen some amazing performers. A lot of them with real high dance skills and a lot of them with muscular skills and artistic ability.”

The oldest pole dancer competing in the International Pole Sport Federation is Greta Pontarelli, 62, of Temecula, Calif. She is a world champion in the Masters Division — age 50 and over.

Pontarelli started pole dancing 3 1/2 years ago to fight off osteoporosis.

“They told me either I had to lift weights, or if I don’t want to lift weights, I had to lift my body,” she said. “I went to YouTube and I saw all these fabulous routines and it was so beautiful to watch, so elegant and so graceful, and I was inspired by watching them.”

You go, girl.

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