Whirling through the air around a metal pole, a 25-year-old pole dancer is flying the flag for Singapore on talent show Asia’s Got Talent 3.
Shrugging off any gender stereotypes associated with the sport, he – yes, he – has made it past the judges’ auditions.
Mr Louis Sue is a professional pole dancer and co-owner of PXD Pole Studio in Robinson Road. Already a seasoned competitor who has won several competitions, including last year’s Seoul International Poledance Championship, he says this is the highlight of his career.
“At professional pole-dancing competitions, everyone already knows the sport, but Asia’s Got Talent is a talent show. People might not be so familiar with pole dancing and I did my best to show the world what it is about.”
In his last appearance on the show, he performed a piece inspired by the James Cameron epic Avatar (2009) and charmed the judges – Canadian musician David Foster, K-pop star Jay Park and Indonesia- born singer Anggun – on the panel. He received “yes” votes from all three and is in the running for the semi-finals of the show.
Other Singaporean acts on the show include TK Jiang, a magician who received the coveted golden buzzer from Park – which guarantees him a spot in the semi-finals.
Sisters Anne-Sophie and Ariane Cazaubon, both semifinalists from season two are also competing on the new season as solo singing acts.
Mr Sue started pole dancing in 2014 and learnt modern dance in secondary school.
“I was nearing the end of national service when I began looking for a sport that would incorporate both fitness and dance,” he says.
“I chanced upon videos of Ukraine’s Got Talent and saw this pole dancer called Anastasia Sokolova. I was in awe of how she defied gravity, displaying strength and grace in the most amazing ways. I signed up for a trial class and never looked back.”
While pole dancing started out as just a fitness hobby, it soon became a passion and a career for Mr Sue.
The Temasek Polytechnic graduate even pushed back his university education to focus on pole dancing full time. And despite that decision, his parents are his biggest fans.
He says: “My dad and uncle helped me buy my first pole and my mum pushes me to go for competitions and always nags at me to send her my pole-dancing videos. “
They had some questions when I postponed my studies, but I proved myself by training and competing with others. And now they’re fully supportive.”
His efforts paid off. After strained shoulders, injured hamstrings and four years with the sport, he opened PXD Pole Studio with his girlfriend – also a pole-dance instructor – early this year. A new studio is set to open next month.
The two, who have been dating for close to two years, met through pole dancing and choreographed several pieces together.
But there are still people who make assumptions about his sexual orientation or pass snide comments about his masculinity, although rarely to his face.
He says: “Usually, I hear of it through friends or other pole dancers. Most of the time, when I hear or read of it, I will shrug it off and ignore it. I do not see a point in explaining or proving to people who have not opened their minds.
“I believe pole dancing is open to those who are open to it, regardless of sexuality or whether you are feminine or masculine, male or female.”
And according to Mr Sue, more men seem to be signing up for the dance form increasingly seen as a fitness regime.
As he puts it: “When I started out, it was rare to see any men. I was usually the only one. But now, every level that I teach has two or three men.”
• Catch Asia’s Got Talent 3 on AXN (StarHub TV Channel 511 and Singtel TV Channel 304) every Thursday at 8.30pm.