The Mating Game – Bitter:Sweet

I figured it was time to get out of the sadder slow songs and do something a bit more flirty. I took a livestreamed class with Michelle Stanek offered by Body & Pole last Friday (check out upcoming classes here!) and it was a little chilly outside. I feel weird putting on the heat to work out in Florida, so I stayed pretty cool. After the class I worked on the routine for last night but I was so chilly I put my sweatpants on. Michelle’s class called for static poles, so out of pure laziness I left the pole on static and put together a routine that could be done wearing pants. It forced me to do some moves out of my comfort zone and I really like some of what I came up with. So see, sometimes being lazy can be a good thing!

I particularly like the Hollywood spin (the pinwheel spin with hips in front of the pole) down to the butt-up position. I kind of just went into it while playing around, and I thought it was something different. It’s much easier to slide into with pants on than bare legs, and while I didn’t try it, likely easier still with socks on so you can slide on the tops of your feet. I’d like to play more with moves where one hand is on the pole and one is on the ground: Natasha Wang and Eva Bembo are both masters at that while having completely different styles.

I have a song request for next week that is totally out of my comfort zone, so we’ll see how that goes!

Say Something – A Great Big World ft. Christina Aguilera

I heard this song on the radio a couple weeks ago and it stuck with me. I used it for a guided freestyle on Saturday morning but didn’t get any video: it was way too personal of a time to stick a videocamera in there. I taught a few simple combinations so people who weren’t super comfortable with freestyle had something to go to but people could also do whatever they wanted in and around the combinations. In one of those mind-meld moments, I had thought about doing a closed-eye freestyle to that song when I heard it and the next day Tracee Kafer suggested in a Finding Your Freestyle video to go back to the basics and close your eyes when freestyling. It was a sign! So we all closed our eyes and danced blind. It was wonderful. I’ll definitely be doing that again!

I still hadn’t had enough of the song so I wanted to put something together for it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time for choreographing, so I ended up with about 25 minutes to come up with a little combination. It’s nothing ground-breaking or even all that interesting to watch, but sometimes that happens. I do like the spin at the beginning and I don’t think I’d ever put an armpit hold spin in a routine before.

On Being Intentional

I joined the Pole Dancing Bloggers Association a couple of months ago, but I haven’t really done anything to take part in what the lovely ladies (and men!) there have to offer. When I saw the January blog hop post was on the subject of intentions and not resolutions for 2014, I knew I had to write something.

My parents, especially my dad, have always told me to be intentional. They don’t want me to sit back and let life happen to me: they want me to make my own decisions and take an active part in my own life. Indecision is a decision of its own, they told me. Be intentional with what you’re doing, don’t just do it because it’s the easiest or simplest thing to do right then. I was especially reminded of how I should be intentional when talking: don’t just talk to say words. Use your words intentionally to say something meaningful and most desirably, uplifting. I definitely do quite a bit of talking without thinking and have said way too many things that were not meant to be hurtful but probably were just because I wasn’t intentional with my words.

But I don’t want to be intentional with just the big nebulous things like life and speech. I want to be intentional in my movement and my dancing as well. Every little muscle in my body should be moving with thought, not just left behind to do its own thing. If I’m just holding an aysha: my toes need to be pointed from my thighs so my legs are straight; my hips need to be held level; my downward arm needs to be engaged and pushing; my abdomen needs to be held in and stabilized; my head needs to be positioned appropriately; my face needs to have the right expression on it (not a grimace!); and what I need to work on most, my hand on the arm that’s in the elbow grip needs to not be in dinosaur claw mode.

dinosaur hand
I took this screenshot from an old practice video. It’s not horrible, but I still have an awkward wrist/hand thing going on here. I also forgot to turn my hips under and bring my legs down. Lovely.

I am most reminded of my need to be intentional when I watch a video of myself doing a full turn. Like this horrendous gif I just made. WHAT IS MY ARM/HAND DOING?! (I’m wearing the green top, just in case you didn’t know. I don’t want to implicate anyone else here!) It just flops around like I totally forgot about it. Which I did. And it’s not like I’m doing a crazy complicated move either. I’m not focusing on holding an Iron X and therefore forgetting about pointing as hard as I can. I’m doing a simple full turn and just totally ignoring an entire limb. And I know I do it and I still forget to be intentional about it. I’m too focused about going into the next move (which isn’t difficult either). INTENTIONAL. That’s what I need to be. In every part of what I’m doing.

That means I’m not thinking about what comes next. That means I’m not worried about what just happened. That means my entire body and brain are focused on what I’m doing right now and how to make it the best I possibly can.

I’m talking specifically about pole dancing, but that applies to the rest of life too. Be intentional with your movements, your thoughts, your words. You’re the only one in control of your body: use it intentionally!

So that’s my goal for 2014 (and, well, the rest of my life).

This post is part of the Pole Dancing Bloggers Association January blog hop. See all the other posts HERE!

Vois Sur Ton Chemin – Bruno Coulais

I’ve been watching more competition videos recently and noticed that the competitors don’t usually pick songs to dance to. Instead, they pick music. Especially when it comes to National Aerial Pole Art and international competitions, it seems that the music is either wordless or not a typical song that the average person is used to listening to. So when I started thinking about what I wanted to do for poleography this week, I came up with this song that I’ve had in my iTunes for years. My next-door neighbors my freshman year of college were both French majors and they somehow convinced me to watch a French film called Les Choristes. I was not all about watching a movie with subtitles, but I am SO glad I did. It’s a wonderful movie! Seriously, watch it. Just know that you might cry. There’s also an absolutely beautiful soundtrack, which I downloaded after watching the movie. It’s sung by an all-boy children’s choir and it’s amazing.

I saw Amanda Rose’s California Pole Dance Championship 2013 video and decided to try the floor superman roll she does at :49. It looks so cool! I was  also watching an old video of one of my routines and noticed where my legs where when coming out of a front hook spin with legs in secretary position. I thought I could just go into a climb from there instead of to the floor, so I incorporated that as well. I’m always trying to incorporate more spins into my choreography because a) they’re not super natural to me so I need to work on them more, and b) they’re easier than tricks on the pole so I can put them in the beginner-level routines I teach in poleography classes. I like the first little spin sequence (step around to full turn to back hook with top hand in twisted grip to pinwheel legs to floor) and I think my students did too! That made me really happy. Then I was just messing around and decided to throw a decidedly strange-looking spin in: I call it a trapped stag leg spin. I was lying in bed last night thinking of variations out of it, but I’m not sure if any of them will actually be feasible. But yay for trying new things!

Seein’ Red – Unwritten Law

I’m still trying to go outside my comfort zone when it comes to choreography and dancing off and around the pole. I don’t really feel comfortable with this choreography, especially the leap, but I guess that’s kind of the point of going out of my comfort zone! I tried to incorporate some different types of dance movements: I don’t know anything about classifications, so I don’t know if I’m trying to go for modern or contemporary, but I wanted to do something different. I get so inspired watching Kristy Sellars (SICK), Michelle Stanek and Sergia Anderson! I want to be able to think of ways to move like they do! It seems like it comes so easily to them and I’m working so hard just to break out of my normal movements around the pole. Practice, practice, practice! The more I do it, the easier it will become.

I know this ended up kind of sloppy on my part, but I still like the different moves. Definitely a step in the right direction!

2014 Goals!

Some pole-related things I’m working on… (I’ll probably add some current pictures when I get them)

1. Right splits
I’ve had my left splits comfortably for years and have never gotten my right splits completely flat. I’m getting closer, but I would LOVE to feel as comfortable in my right splits as I do in my left. While I know that’s probably never going to happen, I still want to at least be able to sit in them.

2. Middle splits
Similar to my right splits: I’m getting closer, but they’re not quite there yet. I would love to have my aerial straddles much wider and be able to roll through the middle splits on the floor. I particularly would like to see a significant difference in my back straddles on the lyra, which just make me cringe right now.

3. 10″ left oversplits/easily opening into flat splits in the air
I have my left splits and a few inches of oversplit when I’m really nice and warm, but I’d like to consistently get a comfortable deep oversplit and be able to open into completely flat aerial splits. They’re close – probably about 170° – but I hate the almost-split look so much.

left aerial split
See? Almost, but not quite.

4. Regain back flexibility to the point where my right foot can touch my head again. I fell doing aerials back in September directly onto the middle of my back and I haven’t had the same back flexibility since. I have photographic proof that I could grab my right foot and touch it to my head in a single knee hang on the lyra from August. I just tried it again last week and I can’t even reach my foot. :( It’s frustrating, because I felt like I was making progress with my back flexibility and now I’m worse than when I first started. I see a lot of cobras in 2014…

5. Marion Amber
This move eludes me and it’s making me mad. I will get it!

6. More comfortable with off the pole dancing/floorwork
Like a lot of polers, I hold onto the pole like a safety blanket. I want to feel as natural dancing on the floor as I do on the pole and come up with some fun, unique, go-to dance/floor combos.

7. Aerial handspring
Like Marion Amber, I just can’t get this. Unlike the Marion Amber, I think this one is going to take a lot more work and strength-building.

It’s going to take work and time and forcing myself to do things like stretch on the floor when I’d rather curl up on the couch, but I really want to accomplish these. There are others I have floating around my brain, but I’m not brave enough to put them down on (electronic) paper yet. We’ll see what happens, but I’m excited for 2014!