HANGZHOU, March 29 (Xinhua) -- It has taken Wang Wenbin more than ten years to go from dancing on scaffolds at construction sites to the stage of a national pole dancing competition.
Spinning, climbing, moving up, down and around a pole, the 28-year-old former construction worker has devoted himself to practicing for the world pole dance championships in the Republic of Korea (ROK) in May.
It will be the first time he goes abroad and a good opportunity to correct misunderstandings about pole dancing held by many people including his parents.
Born in a village in southwest China's Sichuan Province, Wang was raised by his grandparents until he was nine years old.
His parents are among China's 280 million rural migrant workers. They work at construction sites in Jiaxing city, east China's Zhejiang Province.
Dancing was a highlight of Wang's childhood. He never missed any school dance competitions.
"I didn't learn any dancing techniques at that time, but my teacher thought I was a gifted dancer," he recalls.
By chance, Wang saw pole dancing on television when he was in middle school and fell in love with the art form which combines dance and acrobatics centered on a vertical pole.
"The power, flexibility and beauty when spinning in the air shocked me," he said.
His father asked him to work at the construction site every weekend and during summer vacation, and Wang started working full-time there after graduating from middle school.
But his quest to learn pole dancing never ended. Without money to attend professional training courses, he studied pole dancing from online videos and practiced on scaffolds at the construction site.
He mastered most of the basic techniques although the rusty poles wore out his clothes and bruised his body.
In 2007, one year after he had started working full-time, he had saved up 5,000 yuan (around 800 U.S. dollars) and enrolled a dancing school in Suzhou, a city of Jiangsu Province, despite strong opposition from his parents.
"They argued that dancing is not a long-term profession, and I would be penniless when I grow old. They wanted me to find a stable job," Wang said. "But I think young people should strengthen their character by battling difficulties. Try your best even if you fail."
It was the hardest time in his life. High tuition fees, rent, and living costs left him unable to make ends meet.
"I would not give up. Construction sites would not be my fate," Wang said.
With talent and diligence, his dancing skill improved quickly. After three months, he began to give performances to earn extra money to keep his dream alive.
Wang travelled to many cities during the following years, studying while performing, until 2012 when he set up his own dancing studio in Jiaxing.
After paying over 30,000 yuan in rent, he found himself penniless again. The former construction worker had to renovate the studio by himself.
His studio currently has 300 students, most of whom are rural migrant workers like he was.
The studio offers courses ranging from pole dancing to jazz and street dance styles. His income has increased to more than 300,000 yuan a year, enough to support himself and his parents.
In 2017, Wang took part in a national pole dance competition and won the men's championship.
Professional dancers said his moves demonstrate "a slow and elegant feeling like a sculpture that has come alive."
But to Wang, his success has a great meaning -- showing people that pole dancing is not just for seedy karaoke bars and scantily clad girls. It is about keeping fit, staying healthy, and having fun.
"If pole dancing becomes an Olympic Games event one day, I want to be the first Chinese dancer to compete," he said.