(Photo: Reuters/Enrique Marcarian)
A Canadian dance school has recently made headlines for offering pole-dancing classes for children as young as 5 years old, but the instructor insists the classes are for fitness and fun and has nothing to do with sexuality.
"There is nothing provocative. There is nothing sexual about it," Kristy Craig, owner of Twisted Grip Dance and Fitness in Duncan, British Columbia, told Vancouver's CTV News.
"It's pure fitness and strength and fun. I mean kids love climbing trees. They will climb anything," Craig added.
Craig is offering a pole-dancing class geared toward children of all ages called "Little Spinners." The class, which begins Sept. 22, has already enlisted three girls and one boy, the youngest of which is a 5-year-old, according to Craig.
Although the advertisement for the class features high-heeled, sparkly shoes on sale for performers hoping to participate in the class, Craig tells CTV News that she is "not teaching them any sexual moves."
Child psychologist Derek Swain told CTV News that he thinks separating the sexual stigma from pole dancing will be a difficult feat that requires strong parental support.
"[...] we know that people in the adult industry are out recruiting in colleges and universities, as well as attempting to recruit in high schools. That temptation would certainly be there, and for someone who already has those skills it would be an easy transition," Craig told CTV News.
Public reaction to the pole-dancing class for children has been mixed, with some describing the activity as innocent athleticism and others saying it has sexual undertones.
"Ahhh, a new generation of strippers being trained early disguised as physical fitness. Hey, every industry needs new blood to stay alive," commented one reader on the CTV News article.
Other readers encouraged parents to shed their preconceived notions about pole dancing and allow their children to explore it as an art form.
"If this is 100 (percent) about fitness and strength training, I'd probably use it as a tool for my child, along with gymnastics, parquet, and a big education on right and wrong, self-respect and being classy. Just because it has been degraded and abused in houses (of) ill repute, doesn't mean it can't be used as a tool to create a beautiful ballet, if you will," commented one reader on the Houston Chronicle article.
"I've watched fitness competitors use this and I must say, in the most non-sexual way, it was impressive! So yes, I think it's OK but, only if the parent is present and actively staying involved," the reader added.
This is not the first time pole dancing has been pursued as a sport for children. Just last week, Russia held a National Pole Dancing competition, where the competitors were as young as 7 years old.