Stay in your own level!

I saw something several weeks ago as I was waiting for a class that made my stomach churn.


It was a girl asking for moves that were clearly out of her skill level, and it was an instructor obliging and (attempting to) teach them.


Teachers, coaches and instructors: Please grow a spine (if you have one already, please disregard. I love you all and you are fantastic.). It is OK to tell students no. It is OK to tell a person that they are not advanced enough yet. It is OK to refuse to teach things that you don’t know how to do.


There is a lot of buzz right now on safety, including this delightful blog on Spinning Love Story and a facebook post about safety from one of my favorite pole bloggers, Aerial Amy. As a dancer, please use common sense, and stay in your own level. Take the time to build up the strength, flexibility, and technique for more advanced moves. Follow the curriculum set by your instructors or studios and be patient.


As for teachers, my expectations are higher. If you are going to teach other people how to do something physical (particularly if it involves moving upside down, extreme flexibility, and all other aspects that make pole difficult and dangerous) you absolutely must be able to recognize the level a student is at and adjust accordingly. If you receive pushback, you must stand your ground and maintain control of the situation. It’s OK to be an asshole when people’s safety is at risk. That’s your job. As a student, I expect you to be in control.


Leave a comment


  1. okay very curious about details here.. what did she want to learn, and what happened? I just realized I’ve never had this problem because my classes have always covered a strict curriculum, which is not that norm at other studios, so lucky me!! :p I do think instead of flat out tell someone they couldn’t do something, I would try to offer a variation (or, in the case of something really advanced, suggest a move that they should master first, like a figure 4 before a full layback). Everybody has a dream move, and nobody wants to hear “you can’t do that,” so I think offering to teach something in between is a good solution. A student is usually happiest with something appropriately challenging to work on–not struggling with something that feels impossible anyway.

    • She wanted to learn the marley, but it was clear that she didn’t have a knee grip or even hip flexibility for the move. I agree- giving someone a prep move or a simpler variation (like a jasmine or even just whatever it is where you keep one foot on the floor and knee grip with the other foot would have been much more appropriate.

      • oh yikes. Yeah, I was doing that one with both hands for a while. You need the confidence to push forward at the hips for that to work too, and I feel like a beginner would struggle with that. Hope she didn’t get hurt!

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