Imma Star – Jeremih

I was inspired for this week’s routine by Allison Sipes’s twerkshop a couple weeks ago. We had booty shaking, cheek isolations, tick tocks, and the crying baby (seen at 1:45). I’ve been trying to make the choreography accessible to all levels yet still fun since I have a wide variation of skill levels in the class and I don’t want anyone to be bored or feel like they’re in over their head. It would be nice to have two separate choreography classes, one with a simple routine of Pole .5 moves and one with some tricks thrown in, but I don’t have the time to put together two separate routines every week! I spend at least an hour coming up with a routine each week, writing it down and recording it so I don’t forget it when it comes time to teach it.

I really enjoyed this routine because this is the type of dance I have the most fun doing: sexy, flirty, booty-popping dance in my 7 inch heels. I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea though, so I think I’ll have something wildly different for next week! I’m taking song requests from anyone, whether you’re a student of mine or not. It’s good for me to be challenged by music I don’t necessarily move easily to.

p.s. I love the white Bad Kitty Pole Fit bottoms that glow so much in the black lights!

Simba Confronts Scar – The Lion King Broadway Musical

Oh yes, I totally put together a routine to a song from a Broadway musical. It all goes back to high school, when I was in the marching band. We marched to the music of The Lion King during my sophomore or junior year, and like any music I’ve had to listen to hundreds of times while practicing, I got completely sick of it. I did buy the soundtrack though, because there were some awesome pieces of music on it. Last week when I was in the studio thinking about what song to choreograph, I started thinking about Disney songs: A Whole New World just wasn’t working for me, and neither was The Colors of the Wind. Then I remembered The Lion King musical: perfect! I found this song and was immediately inspired.

I’m always trying to do something different, sometimes successfully and sometimes not so much. I love the sexy flirty side of pole routines, but I know not everyone does, plus I don’t want to do the same thing all the time. I’ve done sad, contemplative, slow, emotional, sexy, sassy, flirty… I hadn’t done anything totally different.

Simba’s part was easier to portray for me, but I knew a lot of people would enjoy being Scar. I recorded myself playing each part but since I put it together by myself, I didn’t have anyone else to fight with so I wasn’t sure how it would actually work out. I knew that in order for the routine to work, people would have to really go for it, which is hard for anyone who isn’t 100% comfortable with themselves, especially in a performance-type situation. For many people, acting is the hardest part of pole dancing: I know it’s hard for me. I’m slowly getting better at it as I work specifically on portraying a story for the audience, but it’s not easy.

In the video, the Simbas are on the left and the Scars are on the right. I don’t think this routine worked out as well as it did in my head (especially when I look kind of silly fighting my invisible Scar), but I’m proud of everyone in the class for humoring me and trying something totally different!

Video Phone – Beyonce

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I hope you have a wonderful day of loving yourself and (pick one or more): your family, your friends, and your significant other!

I must be in a Beyonce kind of mood! I put together the beginning of this piece for an event that never materialized over a year ago, so I revisited it, modified it, and added some pole. It’s always fun to switch things up with a chair every once in a while. I didn’t want to make this routine too complicated since I’ve been getting some true Pole .5 students in the class recently and I wanted to make sure everyone would be able to do the choreography. I also like doing some routines where bare legs aren’t necessary, so I can wear fun things like thigh-high socks. We had a few kicks to heads while learning this routine, but no blood or lasting injuries. :)

I have a super fun and different routine put together for next week and I am SO excited to teach it and share it with everyone! There are two characters: an innocent child trying to fight for him/herself and a scheming murderer full of pride. It’s going to be awesome!

If anyone – student or nonstudent – has any song suggestions they’d like to see, feel free to comment! Or if you have any comments, constructive criticism, or questions, I’d love to hear it.

I’m Competing!

I don’t know why I’m just now getting around to announcing it here, but I was selected to compete in the professional division at the Florida Pole Fitness Championship on March 15. I competed as an amateur in the inaugural FPFC in 2012 and as a professional last year. The divisions used to be defined as whether or not you were compensated for pole, either by teaching or performing. I started teaching after my first competition, so last year I was classified as a professional. This year, the divisions were made based on the moves you were allowed to perform: mainly, the amateur division has to keep 3 points of contact on the pole at all times when the hips are above the head. Also, this year the professional division was opened the entire United States, not just Florida. I was very unsure if I would get in: there are some incredible polers in America! I was on pins and needles the entire day we were supposed to find out and I couldn’t focus on anything. I finally got the email around 10:00 that night and was ecstatic! I have some insane competition, but I’m just excited to have a chance to take part in this wonderful event again!

I’m working hard on my routine after finally deciding on a song I love. I want a routine that I love, feel comfortable doing, and am proud of when it’s all said and done. Just a little more than a month to go!

Chelsea – Stefy Freestyle Pole Performance

buttercupparty

I had the fun opportunity to go to Tampa this past weekend to visit Buttercup Pole Dance for their 2nd anniversary. I first met Sarah Jade when I competed in the first Florida Pole Fitness Championship in March 2012. I knew very little about the pole world and didn’t know that she’d already competed in the USPDF or that she was insanely flexible. I just knew that she was one of the sweetest girls backstage. I saw her again that July for Pole for a Purpose and this time I was a little star-struck, but she was just as nice as she had been in March. We’d become Facebook friends in the meantime, and I loved watching her dance and see the ridiculous photos she posts.

My studio, Bittersweet Studios, hosted Sarah for a workshop in December 2012 soon after we opened. She taught me the beautiful mermaid side climb and swing around, which I put in my FPFC 2013 routine (I’m not too proud of that performance, but that’s life!). We competed in the same division, which was totally crazy to me. I’ve seen her only a handful of times due to the distance between Tampa and Jacksonville, but she and one of her instructors came to Bittersweet for our first anniversary party in November. We loved having their support, so we wanted to support them at their second anniversary party.

Three of us from Bittersweet drove down Saturday afternoon and the other two instructors I came with set up a lyra for their performance that evening. I had picked the song a few weeks earlier because it’s a fun song I know well, but I hadn’t put anything together for it at all. I normally have at least somewhat of an idea of what moves I’m going to throw in when I’m freestyling, but I hadn’t thought about this routine at all. I decided my starting position when I stood up to walk to the poles. I have no idea where I came up with some of the things I did, but oh well. It definitely would’ve been better if I’d practiced something beforehand, but it was fun and I had a great time!

Flawless – Beyonce

So between Say Something and Everybody Wants to Rule the World, I’ve been doing slower, more emotional dances recently. The Mating Game is a little sassy, but not quite sexy. It was time to put on my heels and be sexy! I actually did this song after a request from one of my students. I would never have picked it on my own, but I’m so glad I was challenged to put something together for it! I liked exploring different moves and rhythms that I normally don’t, and of course, it was fun to do some nice body rolls and sexy stomps. Another student took her shirt off as she walked at the beginning and I loved it, so we threw that in there too. Such a fun routine!

Unfortunately, YouTube wouldn’t post the video without me taking off the music, and when I uploaded it to Facebook, the sound wasn’t synchronized perfectly. It’s most noticeable when I drop to the floor and the thud of my heels is a second before I actually hit the floor, and at the end when our leg movements/hair flip seems late. It’s frustrating because there are some good hits with the music, but you can’t tell! Oh well.

Watch the video on Facebook here!

If you would rather watch it on YouTube in all its dubbed-over glory, or if you own the song and want to play it over the (muted) video, it’s posted below. The music begins around 2:02, or right when the speaker says “Feminist”. I love comments, constructive criticism, song suggestions… let me know what you think!

Boys, Boys, Boys!

As part of the Pole Dancing Bloggers Association, I decided to participate in their February blog-hop, taking on the topic of pole dancing and men. In general, I call the ladies at my studio “girls” no matter their age and I call the men “boys”. I like to think it’s because pole dancing keeps everybody young.

So, boys and pole dancing. I know there are different views on whether boys should be allowed to participate in pole classes, and each view is supported by valid reasons. Some women like a place to hang out with their girlfriends, bare as much skin as they like, and get a break from guys, and I totally get it. The first studio I attended had a women-only policy, except for performances. I know of one boy who came to the performances and would pole in the open pole we had afterwards, and he was a little bitter at not being allowed to take classes there. The first time I was in a class with a boy was when I visited a studio in Washington, D.C. while there for work in spring 2012. It surprised me a little just because I wasn’t expecting a boy in my class, but it didn’t affect how I felt in the class at all. If anything it challenged me a little to push harder because he was naturally a bit stronger than I was, though I had better pointed toes. :)

An absolutely beautiful pole dance by Ravan:

I now teach at a studio that allows men in all classes. It’s still very predominantly girls, but the occasional guy will come to a beginner class. There are two regular boys who attend, and they have very different styles. One’s idol is Steven Retchless and the other one is much more similar to Alexandr Magala. One would rather wear heels than be barefoot, and the other prefers basketball and boardshorts. One is a regular in my poleography classes and you can see him in some of the videos I’ve posted, while the other takes hip hop and trick classes. They have different focuses but they both love pole.

A happy boy and ridiculous tricks:

There are several reasons why a guy might want to take pole: to feel sexy, to get stronger, to gain self-confidence, to impress people, to get in shape, to try something new. Wait, aren’t those all reasons why a girl might want to take pole too? While I understand why some studios and women prefer female-only classes and studios, I don’t want to turn anyone away from gaining the aforementioned positives that pole can bring to your life. My life has changed drastically since my first pole class: my self-confidence sky-rocketed, I grew a bunch of muscle, I met great friends, I found out that my body can do amazing things, and I’ve been able to express myself in a way I never did before. Who am I to deny those things to anyone just because that person is male instead of female? Guys deal with just as much pressure to look good and to be strong as girls do, and just as many of them struggle with that societal expectation as girls do. Pole and all its benefits aren’t just for girls: guys can gain so much through it too.

The incredibly flexible and amazing Derick Pierson:

I completely understand why some ladies would prefer a class of all girls, and I think that should be available to those women. Maybe one class a week can be women-only if there tend to be quite a few boys at the studio. But then be fair and offer a men-only class as well. Perhaps guys would feel more comfortable in a class without women, where they don’t feel like their strength and bodies aren’t being judged (whether they are or not: some women feel the same in a class with men.)

A breath-taking duet with Edouard Doye and Marion Crampe:

Pole, like any other sport or art, has people from every point on the spectrum on it: men who like to wear briefs and heels to class, women who only want to trick out, girls who live for the stilettos and body rolls, boys who want to flip down the pole and breakdance as floorwork, and everyone and everything in between. Pole is such a small world anyway: why keep it that way? The more people who experience pole, the more people will understand why we love it.

I’m packing this post full of videos, but I can’t leave this one out. One of the videos that brought pole to the mainstream public, and one of the best pole routines I’ve ever seen:

And to close, here’s one of my all-time favorite male performances:

This is post is part of the Pole Dance Bloggers Association February blog hop on the subject of men and pole. See the other blogs here!

Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Lorde

You know those songs that are everywhere in the pole world? They have amazing beats and are great to dance to. The songs change over the months, and I always love seeing what comes next. I remember in the summer of 2011, it was The Dog Days of Summer by Florence and the Machine. See this amazing routine by Jenyne Butterfly at the International Pole Convention, where the studio at which I first started poling also used that song. More recently there’s been Crystallize by Lindsay Stirling, anything by Massive Attack, (Jenyne seems to be the common thread here: do the songs become popular after she uses them, or does she just pick great songs?), and Radioactive by Imagine Dragons (which I also did).

Since pole is still a relatively small world, we all end up watching the same videos and being inspired by the same music. I’ve definitely taken songs I’ve seen performed by stars such as Tracee Kafer and Sergia Louise Anderson to use in my poleography class. This last week was no different. I saw Tracee’s beautiful freestyle to this song from the Hunger Games soundtrack and knew I had to use it. I know there are other girls at my studio who love this song and it’s been taken for someone to use in the Florida Pole Fitness Championship. Lorde is definitely having a moment in the pole world right now!

I wanted this routine to evoke both brokenness and hopefulness. The beats are in somewhat odd places that are a little tricky to catch, but I think the class did a great job! The first part is choreographed and the second half is freestyled.