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Gigging as a Pole Dancer: How to Handle Stage Fright

“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” -Alan Watts

You can have every detail worked out. You can train your routine for months. You can spend hours glueing hundreds of tiny sequins on your costume. You can prepare your music, props and lighting cues. But then the day of the actual performance comes and suddenly you can’t stop worrying about what may go wrong during those five precious minutes you have on stage. You agonize over details… that move that isn’t quite 100%, your shoulder that’s been acting up. You stress over things you can’t control, the temperature of the venue, what the spin pole will be like…

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Backstage with the ladies before Schtick a Pole in It in NYC

This past Saturday night I found myself backstage in a dressing room with a group of very talented
pole dancers. Some were stretching and some were adjusting their hair and make-up. We all commiserated over the collective nerves we were feeling. We laughed about it, wondering why we put ourselves through all this stress.

If you are anything like me, you get serious nerves before a performance. (If not, consider yourself lucky!) Whether I’m pole dancing in a small showcase or a major competition I always get nervous before I hit the stage. I listen to my song on repeat and visualize my routine out of fear I may forget the moves. Butterflies drive me sick to my stomach. My palms get sweaty. My heart beats fast. I feel weak in all limbs. It’s torture.

And then some how I get on stage and am able to perform intricate and physically grueling pole combinations. The entire struggle becomes worth this moment of absolute one with the present moment. I step off stage in sweat with my breath heavy and my muscles swelling. It is a euphoric feeling.

With a major performance in Pole Theatre coming up, I have been thinking a lot lately about the best way to deal with the inevitable nerves that come. I will admit it does get easier with time. But there is always some level of uneasiness no matter the occasion. I think that will always be there and the day when it isn’t will be the day I stop pole dancing.

Here are some tips I have to offer for helping your nerves before a pole performance…

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Backstage at Schtick 

Be Prepared
This applies to the days leading up to your performance and even the morning of. Try to prepare on every level possible. Know your moves. Be able to perform your routine in full. Know your music. Be comfortable in your costume. Eat healthy food, especially the day of your performance! Get rest so you don’t injure yourself. On the day of, pack your bag with everything you need. Stretch and warm-up safely. Prepare everything you can leading up to your moment on stage. And in that excruciating time when you are waiting for your name to be called… let it all go. Know you have to stop preparing because you can’t anymore! There is no need to worry about it. You will need to work with what you have at that point. As the Serenity Prayer goes, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

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US National Pole Championships 2015

Meditate
This can calm nerves and help regulate your breathing which will help your body do its thing when it’s go time. If you don’t have a meditation practice you can just close your eyes and focus on your breath. YouTube offers some great options of meditation music as well as guided meditation through a simple search. You don’t want to do this right before your performance necessarily. This is more to instill an overall calming effect. You actually want to use the nervous energy in a way which brings me to my next tip…

Use Fight or Flight Mode
Fight or flight is the body’s natural response to stress. Think about if you were in the wild and came into contact with a bear. You would be pretty freaked out. Your heart rate would increase as well as your breathing. Blood flow would increase to the muscles. These and other physiological changes provide the body with more energy to exert in an emergency. That means more power. This is great for pole dancers! So on a certain level you should be comfortable with this natural reaction your body is having and embrace it. Use it. Go with it. Staying in this heightened state too long can cause overexertion of energy and make you tired though. So be careful of staying in fight or flight too long. For example, going into fight or flight in the wings is helpful. But waking up and having this reaction all day is not. Research this reaction. Understanding it should make you feel more comfortable with experiencing it.

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US National Pole Championships 2015

Be Present
This should be the case throughout the entire process from the spark in your mind to create the routine to the moment you step off stage. It is most difficult and crucial to feel this when waiting backstage and of course, when performing your actual routine. We can only be at our best if we soak up the moment and are fully aware of our body and its relation to the world around us. When you are sitting backstage and your stomach is doing flips, don’t fight it. Go into it, accept it and relish in it. Be happy you are able to feel that level of awareness. This brings me to my last point…

Be Grateful
One of the best pieces of advice about handling nerves I have ever heard was from champion pole dancer Natasha Wangbe grateful for your body. We often think about what we don’t have and where we are lacking. Through doing this we don’t appreciate all the great things we do have. When you are moments before a performance, you have to love where you are at. Coming up with a long-term training plan to transform your body may be something you want to think about afterwards if you want change. But this isn’t the place to worry about that… be where you are at, injuries, insecurities, weaknesses and all. Be grateful for your body’s ability to perform amazing feats of strength. Think of all the people who are not able to use this form of physical expression. Be proud of how strong you are. Look back to that person you were on the day of your very first pole class. They would be in awe. Be proud that you have the guts to get on stage in your underwear and share a piece of your heart.

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As pole dancers we pursue a highly physically demanding activity. We push our body to its limits. All this work is rewarded with minimal financial gain and a general lack of respect, understanding or appreciation from the mainstream. Maybe that is the very reason why we do this: for the pure love of it despite the struggle. The larger the hurdles the more our passion for this amazing, athletic art form shines.

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All done! Photo by Sam Harris from Schtick a Pole in It, NYC 

Pole Storytelling: Attaching Meaning to Movement

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Moment from my 2015 US Nationals routine captured by Alloy Images.

It seems pole performances have been getting more and more theatrical over the years. Purely athletic and technical routines still exist. But even in national competitions, dancers are almost expected to incorporate characters, props and costumes in addition to intricate tricks.

I love this storytelling aspect of pole dancing. But there are unfortunately so many ways it can go wrong. At times, the story can detract from the movement quality. How many times have you seen a performer become so immersed in their character that they fall out of tricks, don’t complete lines or have sloppy transitions? On the other hand, and perhaps more common, movement can disconnect the dancer from the story altogether. They can be 100% engaged when off the pole, but as soon as they take their movement into the air they shift to robotic trick-mode.

I took a storytelling workshop several months ago and an interesting discussion arose among the group. Almost everyone in the room felt it was all too common for pole dancers to feel this pressure to continuously create new routines. Yet even with each new routine, new song and new costume ensemble so many dancers still tell the same story. I have been guilty of this. It’s the same routine with a different song. Don’t get me wrong. I believe that if something works for you, then you should take as much advantage of it as you can. But there is a difference between sticking your best tricks in every routine because you know they look good and really exploring quality of movement that feels good on your body while also effectively expressing your message.

I was recently accepted to Pole Theatre USA (gulp) for the Professional Drama category. I am also teaching my Pole Storytelling workshop in Tübingen, Germany this weekend. I have been thinking a lot about palpable storytelling lately, how to get a message across and how to help others do the same. I think one of the most intense human urges beyond basic instinct for survival is a desire to feel connected, heard and understood. Pole dancing can be a powerful means of expression. The possibilities for exploration on the apparatus are endless.

Below are some tips I have found to be useful over the years to connect meaning to movement, helping me best communicate my message to an audience. I do want to note, I don’t think these guidelines should be applied towards most competitive routines. This article is more geared towards using pole as a form of artistic expression. I have included photos and memories of performers who inspire me with their dedication and ability to captivate on stage.

Simplify your movement.
Everyone has different strategies when it comes to building a routine. A lot of people I know like to build pieces up around their most advanced and impressive tricks. When I first start creating the outline for a theatrical routine, I initially put advanced technique aside. I focus more on building simple movement to match the story. It is much easier to advance the difficulty level after the mood and energy of the piece have been set. I have even discovered new shapes and transitions through this process. Of course you can always modify advanced tricks to fit the energy of the piece too. But getting the message across is more important than performing the hardest tricks.

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Marcy Richardson exploring a shape with unique flair. Photo by Mark Shelby Perry

Explore familiar tricks in depth.
Building on the previous point, I like to explore positions that are very familiar to me. For example, I will start in a seated position on spin pole and make slight alterations in hand placement or contact points or even the angle of my head. I try to move as slowly as possible to sense my body’s reaction. Following the path of least resistance usually leads to shapes that feel good in my body. And when it feels natural, it usually looks good.

If you can’t do the move in character take it out.
If you can’t fully commit to your character when performing a trick, then I’m sorry but you need to take it out. No matter how great you think it looks, that expression of overexertion is distracting. It pulls the audience away from the magic of the moment. Think of your favorite pole routine. I’m sure a huge factor in your enjoyment of it beyond technique was the ease in which the performer executed their tricks. Michelle Stanek performed a simple and short routine for her USPDF compulsory round. The quality of her movement was so honest and engaging though, it locked the audience into her. It’s often the “how” not the “what” that counts.

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Michelle Stanek executing stellar stage presence in her famous 2012 USPDF routine.

Understand your character, theme or story on a deep level.
In addition to the “how” I also think the “why” is an important element that can have a tendency to be lost in pole performances. Why execute this particular trick, at this place, at this time in the routine? Consider these questions as you decide what moves to put in. Watching freestyle videos can help you decide this. So can visualizing movement in your head. Allow it to happen organically. Then contemplate the “why” with the directions you have decided to take. If it’s not adding to your message then it’s distracting from it.

Know your music.
Your chosen music should add to the telling of your story. What comes first: the music or the story? Sometimes it’s one and sometimes the other. This is almost a whole separate topic. You should know every note, lyric, transition, accent, crescendo and decrescendo in your music. This will help guide what moves you choose to put in your routine but also the quality in which you execute them.

Do I believe you?
This is a great question I always ask myself from the perspective of the audience. And perhaps even greater, do I believe myself? If you don’t believe your story how can you expect your audience to? It may be raw and personal or you may be portraying a character with no relation to you whatsoever. Each should be executed with solid intention. Keep in mind, bigger isn’t always better. You can express the most intense emotions in an incredibly subtle way and it can often be more powerful than overly dramatic actions. Whatever direction you choose to take, fully commit. If you’re going to go big, really believe it. And also be prepared for some people in the audience not to be ready to go to that level with you.

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Holly Harlow performing a spatchcock with serious personality, staying 100% in character. Photo by Alloy Images.

Be Yourself
No one possesses your body and your experiences but you. Use this to your advantage. What can you bring to the table that no one else can? There is no one way to do a routine right. Different people can take the same song, or moves or concept and have completely different interpretations that all work perfectly. Embrace your body’s strengths as well as limitations. Draw from personal experiences, even when portraying a character. Your audience will connect with your honesty.

Go with the flow. 
When it comes time to put all these elements together, let the routine unfold as it will and make every attempt to stay as present as possible no matter what happens. This is often the hardest part of the entire process for me. What we do is so physical. There are so many variables at play and we prepare for so long for just a few minutes on stage. The pressure for perfection can be intense. My foot slipped off the pole in a PSO routine one year. In my mind, it was a travesty that ruined the entire routine. I reluctantly kept dancing, but I was just going through the motions. I wanted it to end. It was the longest 4 minutes of my life. When I got the video back to watch the cringe-inducing mistake, the foot slip surprisingly wasn’t as bad as I thought. But you know what was awful? Everything that came after. My energy shifted and every move became disconnected.

The ability to remain absolutely present on stage is elusive. With time, this skill can be honed. It’s what truly draws the audience into the performer’s world and makes time appear to stand still.

 

Gigging as a Pole Dancer: Playing a Stripper on TV

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On the set of Lucky Number

The range of performance scenarios you may find yourself in as a pole dancer is vast. I have performed at art galleries, bat mitzvahs, stages in Vegas and even the Gay Pride Parade on a mobile pole pedicab. One of my favorite places to perform is on TV/film sets as a stripper. It’s a fun way to explore an exotic world I would never have the hustle to explore in real life.

Read on to discover how the magic happens from booking the job to completing it!

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My first TV stripper job in 2011

Booking the Job
Playing a stripper in film will usually be considered background work. This is booked through a background casting agency. The most popular background casting is Central Casting. They have branches in both NYC, LA, Louisiana and Georgia. They book everything from television shows to major motion pictures. There are others you can find through a simple Google search. Anyone can register but there is usually a small monthly fee to receive notifications. Keep in mind, background casting is done primarily based on your look. If you look the part and you are available you may very well get booked.

Playing a stripper is a little different than normal background work since a skill is required. This will give you a chance to stand out from the crowd. Make sure you have great pictures of yourself in sexy pole clothes with shoes. Have clear, quality videos as well. It is helpful to have a professional headshot. But most background casting companies actually want to see a selfie style shot so they can see what you actually look like. Know your sizes. Make your contact information clear and easy to read. Be fast, precise and concise with communication. Not being crazy is a big asset to getting on Casting’s good side! (seriously)

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CNN’s The Hunt

Day Rate 
Pay is established before the shoot date. Non-union jobs usually pay around $72 for 8 hours. But pay could be even less or nothing at all for some jobs. Union (SAG/AFTRA) jobs should pay a minimum of special ability rate which is currently $162 for 8 hours. More often than not you will receive a rate of $250 for 8 or $500 for 8 to play a stripper. If you have choreography, or levels of nudity you could receive principal rate of close to $1k which may or may not include contract and credit. You are paid more for overtime, meal penalties and extras like working overnight or around smoke. Always establish your pay before accepting the job. If you aren’t comfortable with the rate, don’t accept the job. Never assume you can negotiate for a higher rate on set because more often than not you will be disappointed.

Wardrobe 
Casting will most likely provide specific details on what to wear. If the strip club scene is taking place on network television they will have strict rules about body coverage (see: gluteal fold). Always bring options and never assume Wardrobe will give you clothes to wear. They also may not have the best options for you to pole dance in. It is much better to be comfortable in clothes you’re used to dancing in.

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Always do your hair and make-up in advance unless specifically told otherwise. You are working as background, not a day player. They will most likely touch you up. But never assume special treatment.

Nudity
This should be clearly discussed before you get to set. I personally have never done nudity when performing as a stripper on TV or film. Know what you’re comfortable with and make sure you’re comfortable with the rate. If you have any level of nudity involved, you should be working as union. General rules associated with this include no still photography and for there to be a closed set. You should be given a cover-up between takes. If these guidelines are not being followed call SAG/AFTRA.

Best Moves to Perform
Obviously sexy movement is preferred. But network television may tell you to reel it in if you get too hot for TV. If you are filming in a strip club the poles will most likely be 50mm static. Keep this in mind when planning your tricks. Also be prepared to do it again and again with each take. Don’t go hard in rehearsal. Conserve your energy for when you actually shoot. Simple is best on film, especially if you’re performing ambient pole. You’re adding to the effect of the scene, you are not the center of the scene (unless otherwise directed). You will most likely be given direction from the 2nd Assistant Director. If you are a crucial element to the scene the Assistant Director will give you notes. Very rarely will you have the Director give you feedback.

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Lucky Number set

Hurry Up and Wait
Performing on sets can feel like a foreign world if you have never done it before. Often you don’t know where or when you will shoot until the night before. You won’t know how long you will be there until the day of. Go into the shoot with this mindset. Be prepared to stay there all day. Follow directions and listen to the crew. Be polite. And when given direction, try your best to make it work. These are the people cast and crew will want to work with again. Of course if something is seriously wrong or dangerous always speak up. But in general, work with the conditions you’re given.

Have Fun! 
Being on a set is fun! The hours can be long but with a tight crew and cast it can be a great experience. I will warn though… if you have never performed as a stripper before be prepared for the possibility of conflicting emotions. My first job was a scene with Seth Meyers for a movie called I Don’t Know How She Does It. The scene involved him hooting and hollering slurs at me along with a room of other men gawking at me. I have to admit the experience was a bit jarring and felt degrading. Once I reminded myself I was playing a role I got over the initial shock. It was a ridiculous scene and part of what made it funny was how over-the-top it was.

 

I hope these tips helped you out should you ever find yourself in this position. These roles don’t come up very often but when they do I always love to jump at the chance. Have you ever played a stripper on TV?….

Gigging as a Pole Dancer: Technical Details

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Photo by Kat Benzova

This will be an ongoing series in which I explore different elements of performing as a pole dancer. In this first edition I will discuss behind-the-scenes details to consider leading up to your performance. And there is SO much to cover!

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Photo by Andrew Foord

My very first pole dance performance was at a student showcase in the familiarity of my home studio. I was comfortable dancing on the poles. My friends were cheering me on. Not everything was perfect and it was OK. I have since gone on to perform under a vast array of circumstances. I have performed on competition stages, in studios, on movie sets, at live events, at charity shows and even in an active strip club on stage. I would like to talk about what I’ve learned over this time and rookie mistakes I made in the process.

One of the most important points to consider is the range of variables involved with a pole dance performance. Pole dancing is a demanding athletic endeavor. So your body must be in top condition to perform. It is also an artistic undertaking so many aesthetic elements are involved. Finally, many event producers are not familiar with the more technical aspects of pole dancing and therefore unknowingly make plans that can impede our ability to properly perform.

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Performing in Vegas with GNR

I would like to outline some important questions to consider when pursuing your next pole dance performance.

 

What poles will you be using?

This is the most important point. If you don’t have the right equipment it will be hard to perform your job at all. Make sure the poles are professional grade. If the pole is rigged, check the structure and test the pole beforehand. If it is a stage pole the same applies. I believe every pole dancer should know how to install various types of poles. This is for your safety and it’s your responsibility to know your equipment.

The day may come when you will have to perform on a pole you’re not used to. It may be the material or the diameter that’s different. You will have to know how to modify your moves for safety. Many event organizers outside of the pole industry aren’t even aware of the distinction between poles so you have to educate them in advance. When I performed with Guns N’ Roses in Las Vegas the crew had initially set up poles similar to those you would find on the street with no finish on them. This resulted in painful abrasions all over my body. After they learned we could not perform safely on the poles they installed, they quickly remedied the situation by switching them out to professional grade poles.

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My legs after dancing on unfinished poles at GNR show in Vegas

 

Where will the performance take place?

Will it be in a city you have never been to? Will the humidity level affect you? Will the cold or heat affect you? Will the performance take place inside? Will the room be air-conditioned? What sort of stage set-up will there be? Try to get stage dimensions if possible. Will there be room to do spins and floor work? Always make sure to get on stage before you perform. You may not have a chance to do a full run-through. But it is helpful to move in the space before your performance. If you absolutely cannot get on stage to run through moves, make sure to visually scope the scene and gauge how you may need to modify moves.

 

What time of day will the performance take place?

Are you a morning, afternoon or night poler? Whatever time your performance takes place is when you should rehearse. Because of the highly physical nature of what we do you need to prepare your body under the most similar conditions possible.

 

Will there be lights and/or fog?

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Performing on set of Lucky Number

This can affect your ability to perform greatly. In the comfort of our home studios we forget that once we get on stage variables can impede on our technique. Know your body and moves. You should know the correct placement, engagement and alignment through feeling rather than relying on getting a visual in a mirror. If you don’t feel 100% safe in something, don’t do it. Also know fog machines contain a grease component that can make poles slippery. You don’t always have control over what is or isn’t used in your performance. So prepare and modify after if needed.

 

 

Will you select your music?

If you are able to choose your music, keep all elements of the event in mind: the venue, the audience and your moves. Your preference for musical taste should never override what is best for the event as a whole. If you do not have the luxury of choosing your music make sure you are well versed in freestyle exercises to prepare for the unexpected. You should be able to dance to music you have never heard before or do not like.

 

Is the performance ambient or choreographed?

For ambient sets, keep it low key with simple dance moves and occasional splashes of impressive (yet comfortable) combos. For a choreographed performance you have the ability to compose a sequence of designated moves. Keep the variables in mind when selecting tricks, especially in more uncontrolled environments. Will the pole be static or spin or both? Also, how long will it be? Keep this in mind when laying out your sequences. Do you have the stamina to pull it off? It is always better in performance to simplify moves cleanly with confidence rather than choosing more risky options. 99% of the time your audience won’t know the difference. Save the fancy tricks for big events with truss rigging.

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Alexander Wang Event

Some event producers have unrealistic expectations when it comes to how long you can pole dance for. When I performed at the Alexander Wang after party at NY Fashion Week, we were to perform in 15 minute on and off sets for several hours. I never worked harder pole dancing in my life. My forearm went into spasm in the middle of a set and I completely lost grip in my dominant hand. I was sore for days afterwards all over my body. I shouldn’t have pushed myself as hard as I did. It’s difficult to resist the urge of showing off your advanced tricks when Lady Gaga is walking right past you though!

 

 

What costume will you wear?

Always run your routine or moves in the costume you will be wearing! I have made the mistake of skipping this step and I’ve paid for it. Some event producers will require more body coverage than others. They do not understand we must have skin exposed in order to grip the pole. There are certain moves you may need to adjust or remove completely depending on the costume the event requires. The more you pole dance the more you can tell just by looking at a costume what tricks will work. It is always better to try than guess though. Make sure to tape up around edges to avoid nip slips if you’re prone to them or your costume is riding up!

 

Will you have time to warm-up?

You should always warm-up before performing so you can protect your body. One gig is not worth injury. There will be some cases when you are not sure when you will be on. A favorite saying in show business is “hurry up and wait.” I like to give a heads up to event producers that I need a 30-minute warning before I am to perform. The trick is to get warm without exhausting yourself. In some cases, you will not have enough time and in these situations you should modify your moves safely.

 

Will you have time to eat?

Even if you’re nervous you should bring a snack such as bananas, nuts or granola bars. The venue should supply water but you should bring that too just in case! You need energy to perform and you don’t want to experience a muscle spasm during performance. Of course you also want to make sure not to eat too much or too close to your performance since you will be flipping upside down!

 

Do you have performer’s insurance?

Not all events require it but it’s still good to have just in case. I get mine through Speciality Insurance. This protects you in the event that you cause damage to the space or injure a spectator. It does not cover injuries you may sustain while performing.

 

How and when will you be paid? 

This is very important! When you are booked you should know how and when you will receive payment. Do you have to fill out a W9? Will they pay you in cash or check? Do you receive it right after performing or in the mail weeks later? If it is a big event or out-of-town performance you can request an advance deposit and perhaps a per diem as well as travel accommodations. Working out payment details is a huge topic for a whole other post though.

 

Will they supply grip aids and/or rubbing alcohol?

In most every case you will need to supply your own grip aids. And while we may consider cleaning poles with rubbing alcohol an obvious practice, most people outside the industry have no idea this must be done. Inform them you need rubbing alcohol and a rag. Always bring a backup just in case. And please don’t use Windex to clean poles! I have seen this at studios and strip clubs. It is ineffective at best and dangerous at worst.

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Makeup and hair on Que Noche! 

 

Will you do your own hair and makeup?

I prefer to do my own makeup and hair. False eyelashes can mess with my eyesight. Hair products and makeup can cause slipping. Leaving your hair up or down may change the moves you’re able to do. Communicate with your team and let them know what you need in order to give the best performance.

 

Do you have prepared bails if moves don’t work?

I know of pole dancers who prepare emergency exits for every move they perform. While I admire this level of intricate preparation I think it is unrealistic to do this for every type of performance. It is impossible to prepare yourself for every possible scenario. If you consistently make the same error in a particular move in rehearsal, take it out.

The absolute best way to prepare for the unexpected is to constantly explore your freestyle practice. Find alternative ways to move so you truly feel comfortable in your body no matter the circumstances. This will help you excel in uncontrolled environments.

 

Are you injured? 

You know your body best. If you are injured to the point where you cannot safely perform your routine it is best to bow out as soon as possible. For some injuries and cases this is not always an option. Take care of yourself as best you can leading up to the performance and modify moves to keep yourself safe!

~~~

Sometimes you can do everything right in preparation and something will still go wrong. The best you can do is to plan the most you can and then roll with the punches when it comes time. The best performers are not the ones who think of every element and ensure event producers meet those needs and demands. They are the ones who adapt to variables and make the best they can with what they have in a safe manner. These are the performers who event producers will want to work with again. And like anything, the more you perform the better you will get at dealing with the unexpected.

Have a performance question or tip of your own to add? Leave a comment below!

Work-Study at Body & Pole

I became a work-study at Body & Pole in June 2013. Three years later I find myself the manager of the program and an instructor at the studio. We are currently in the process of accepting applications for the June 2016 group and I am so excited for this! In this powork studyst I will talk about my experience as a work-study, how the program has expanded since then and how you can be a part of it.

When I started, the entire studio was located only on what is now our second floor. We were in the process of expanding to the ground floor and basement studio we have today. The idea of that much space was thrilling. But of course with more space comes more work…

Work-studies are responsible for rigging the entire studio for classes, space rentals and privates. I learned how to properly install poles. I also learned about aerial rigging for hammocks, silks, and lyra. This knowledge was essential for my responsibilities as a work-study but valuable for my future as well. If you ever want to perform or open your own studio down the line you must know how to safely rig your own equipment.

Work-studies are also responsible for cleaning the entire studio. The responsibilities vary depending on the shift. Mirrors must be wiped down, floors must be mopped, mats must be sprayed. We need to make sure everything is operating smoothly and everything is in stock. We want to offer a valuable students to our clients. This starts with a clean space and giving them everything they need to have an enjoyable experience at our studio.

Work-studies also greet all students coming in for class or to check out the studio. They answer the phones and emails. They offer back-up and support to our instructor and management staff.

With all these daunting tasks, and the investment of 16-18 hours per week for the commitment of one year it may seem like an overwhelming investment. I mentioned the struggle first for a reason. The payout is worth it.

In exchange for your work and dedication you will receive complimentary classes and the ability to access the studio in between classes to train as well. You can learn from the best pole dancers and aerialists in the city. You will also receive personalized mentor matches to assist in helping you reach your goals.

No matter the path you wish to pursue this is a time for exploration and growth. Maybe you don’t know what it is you want yet. The program will give you the tools you need to discover this and expand to your full potential. We seek passionate and highly motivated individuals to fill this valued role.

Some notable graduates of the work-study program include Phillip Evans (Manager at Body & Pole), Jadi Collado (Manager at Body & Pole), Shaina Cruea (2014 US National Pole Champion), Roz Mays (Dangerous Curves Founder and Diva Extraordinaire) and many more with a range of diverse pursuits and accomplishments.

To learn more about the Work-Study program at Body & Pole click here. To apply, email your submission video to me at Irmingard@bodyandpole.com. Applications are due April 4, 2016.

 

Name Claiming in the Pole Community

“Everything you did has already been done.”
-Lauryn Hill

 

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.