“Everything you did has already been done.”
Thank you, Pole Geek for this bold article. I see it has brought about an interesting follow-up discussion. I began this commentary as a Facebook status but it became a bit longer than expected so I had to turn it into a blog post!
If you have ever taken one of my classes, you know I don’t put much emphasis on the names of moves I teach. This is mostly because so many people call moves by different names it gets confusing. I care more about the “how” than the “what.”
I think naming moves is helpful for reference purposes. But we really must streamline names of moves into functional and simple terminology. It needs to translate across the world as our community continues to grow. Pole is universal. Our language for it should be too.
I believe in valuing the creatives and artists of our world. It is proper to give credit where it’s due when possible. I credited that quote at the top of this post. I credited the writer of this original article. I credit any photos I share. If a move is popularized by someone I credit them. If someone helps me with choreography I credit them. But the fact is, if you are in a creative industry, your work will at some point be replicated, stolen or imitated. Whatever you want to call it. You may be aware of it when it happens or you may have no idea at all. It’s happened to me and it’s probably happened to you. It’s not OK but you can’t stir up a firestorm every time it happens.
There shouldn’t be an obligation to credit every single move you do with its “creator” every time you perform or post it. And when a major offense does occur… (Think the sad imitation of Michelle Stanek‘s infamous USPDF 2012 winning performance)… An army will come to your defense so you won’t have to. It will be so obvious. The pilfering of creativity will pale in comparison to the original. The truth doesn’t need defending.
There are so many landmines with name claiming etiquette. For instance… at one point a year or two ago while messing around with spins and transitions I fell into something I had never done or seen before. I never watched it in a video or learned it in class. I didn’t claim ownership of its creation afterwards. I ended up teaching it and someone brought up how it was <insert “official” name here> with a bit of annoyance that I did not give proper credit to its creator. I literally had no idea it was even claimed. And who is to say that if I fell into it naturally that many people before me (and the “creator”) had done just the same?
How do you know without any hesitation the shape your body fell into has not been done by anyone ever before? A stripper in the 90s? A Chinese poler 100 years ago? I think everyone has performed a move that someone else at some point has done before. I also think everyone has performed a move that is utterly and uniquely theirs. Whether by approach, transition, style or the adjustment of a hand or foot. That is what is really interesting to me… a disctinctive approach in a sea of imitation. Finding originality in whatever you do.
I think this name claiming drama is more about ego than anything. And in addition, a symptom of a larger problem. More and more, people want to claim a piece of this tiny pie. Pole dancing is universal but it’s still a tiny sub-culture. It’s taboo and it’s fucking hard to stick with. It takes passion and dedication to truly excel at. I think the majority of people try it a few times then give up. The truly committed stay on, yet eventually want to go on to teach or compete and reap benefits from their labor of love somehow. There are plenty of diehard pole enthusiasts yet not enough diehard pole consumers. Go to most any pole competition, show, or event and you will see this.
How can we change this? I think more than trying to claim our own stake, build-up our brand and increase our amount of Instagram followers we need to serve the community as a whole. I want to see our industry expand both for my own agenda but more importantly for us to succeed as a collective. I want to see more studios pop up, higher attendance rates at events, more people enjoying this athletic art form us enthusiasts love so much. I believe this will come with time and our ability to organize. This goal will not be achieved with mindless chatter and arguments about who invented what move first.
Our potential is infinite since there are so many styles of pole accessible to every age, gender, culture and body type. Our individual success may see short-term results. But long-term results will come in the form of expansion of the community as a whole.