I went to pole and it made me cry

This post has been moved to my new website! Find it at http://polecompete.com/2014/07/i-went-to-pole-and-it-made-me-cry/

Elevated Update

Hello!

Sorry I dropped off for a week. If you didn’t make it last Saturday to Elevated Art, it went really well. I completely neglected to ask anyone to take any photos or videos, but you can check out official photos of the whole evening (including my performance) here.

 

Once the official videos are released, I will link to that as well.

 

Dancing at that venue was really fun, to say the least. I felt like I grew as a dancer and performer. It was amazing to have real stage lights and a fancy pole set up. Everything was clear and well organized and everyone was so much fun to work with and/or be backstage with. I was “on” about halfways thru, so I got to watch most of the last half, which was also delightful.

 

Thanks to Ali for choosing my awesome performance song (Guts, by Alex Winston). Thanks to Jess at Adorn for making my hair look fabulous. Thanks to Alyssa for lots and lots of constructive choreography feedback. Thanks to Harper for making me get off my butt and add some bling to my costume well ahead of time. Thank you to Estee Zakar for helping me so much with the choreography. Thank you to all of the people who came and watched me. Thanks to all of the amazing performers, and to Natasha Wang for being so gracious about being accosted after the show to get a photo. (If you are marveling at the absence of photos, it’s because I lost my camera cord. Again.). While I’m thanking people, thank you to all who read this blog! I have a lot of fun writing it, so I appreciate having an audience.

Dealing with Pre-Performance Jitters

I am only a few days away from performing in Elevated Art. (Denver people, get your tickets) I’m getting really nervous, so I thought I’d put together a list of ways to deal with pre-performance jitters. Hopefully I can keep them all in mind.

  1. Prepare well for the performance (or competition). This one is super obvious, but it’s probably the most important thing you can do. Lock in your choreography early and focus on moves that you excel at instead of trying to learn new ones for your performance.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the rules (if applicable), venue, and anything else that will factor in on performance day.
  3. Leave lots of time to get ready and get to the venue so you aren’t stressed out about getting there.
  4. Bring headphones and some of your favorite music. Also bring your song, so that you can listen to it.
  5. While you are listening to your song, mentally rehearse doing your performance. Take the time to really feel your knees locking straight, your toes pointing, you holding your moves and not rushing through the performance.
  6. Take lots of deep breaths.
  7. Warm up. Moving your body is critical to your flexibility and safety, and it will also help your mind relax.
  8. Chat with the other performers. Camaraderie goes a long ways to alleviating nervousness. Cattiness does the opposite.
  9. Get the right attitude- you’ve worked really hard so that you can share a story with the audience, and they are excited to watch you perform. Stop focusing on the possibilities of messing up.
  10. Stretch and stand up tall.
  11. Smile.
  12. Go kill your routine.

Other Resources:

http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/how-to-make-performance-anxiety-an-asset-instead-of-a-liability/

http://www.examiner.com/article/ask-a-dancer-dealing-with-pre-performance-jitters

http://esthermpalmer.com/blog/dancers-quell-your-performance-jitters/

Chops

“And many strokes, though with a little axe, Hew down and fell the hardest-timbered Oak.” -Shakespeare

One of the best things that I’ve been doing to reach my dance, career, and educational goals (aside from keeping an awesome goal board) is to have an accountability partnership with one of my friends.

The premise is based on the quotation above. If just keep doing things every day to get to your goals, you’ll eventually reach them. The rule is that my friend and I have to e-mail each other with our 5 “chops” that we did the previous day to get closer to our goals. If we don’t make five chops, we have to donate a set amount of money to a charity of the other’s choosing.

There’s nothing magical about the number 5, but it seems to be a reasonable number. Knowing you have to report back to someone who will hold you accountable is sometimes the push between doing something or not.

In terms of pole, this has forced me to do my mental choreography (where I practice my choreography in my head and annoy anyone else around me by playing whatever I’m working on on repeat), to actually do my morning stretches/ exercises, to actually sign up for more classes when I feel scroungy and don’t want to, to work on my handstands.

Set some goals and find someone who will keep you accountable and try it out!

How to Give a Compliment

I wrote yesterday about how to take a compliment. Today I want to write about the flip side: how to give a compliment. Both of these are skills that you need for pole dance, and for the rest of life. Here are the steps of what to do and what not to do.

How to Give a Compliment

  1. Be sincere. Don’t say compliments you don’t mean because doing so undermines your integrity and causes your compliments to lose all of their value.
  2. Pay attention to the people around you, and not just to your best group of friends. Encourage people who are are new to pole, or just new to that particular class or studio. Pole has an awesome community, and everyone is responsible for creating that community. This is how you do it.
  3. Compliments are particularly great for something the person does exceptionally well, but also for things that they have improved on greatly, have been working on for a while, or that require them to be courageous (like a first performance).
  4. Be specific.  “You did great!” is OK, but not as good as “wow, you really had clean lines on that second transition. Your legs were so straight! Way to keep your muscles engaged.” or “that was so smooth! I loved how you put that combination together!” or “I could feel so much emotion when you did that pass- I felt completely drawn into your story.
  5. Ask for advice. I had a few newer people asking for advice about things they were trying out during open pole the other night, and it was extremely flattering. I also like to think my advice was helpful
  6. Along the same lines- ask someone how they did something. I think the best compliment I ever got was from a girl who asked me how I got my ass. I laughed and said something about working out a lot, but then she pressed me for details. “Like, how many squats?” she asked. “What’s your diet like?” This was so much more meaningful and flattering than a “you have a nice ass” variety of compliment.
  7. Take your time and repeat yourself a lot. This is especially helpful if you are trying number 5 or 6.

How Not to Give a Compliment

  1. Don’t comment on someone’s weight. It somehow never ends up being flattering, and you never know how a person feels about their weight. Whenever people tell me I look great because I’ve lost weight, what I hear is “there’s less of you. I prefer it that way.” When they tell me I look good because I’ve gained weight, I immediately start worrying that something is wrong with my diet.
  2. Don’t compliment their stuff. “Nice booty shorts” is not as good as “Those shorts really showcase your butt.”
  3. Don’t lie to make someone feel better. It doesn’t help either of you in the long run, and it undermines your integrity and credibility.

How to Take a Compliment

For some reason, this is a skill that a lot of people don’t have. Once you put in the hours of pole practice though, you will start getting compliments. Follow these steps so that you aren’t accidentally an asshole about it.

  1. Be flattered. I know it’s hard to feel flattered,  because many people do not believe compliments for them are sincere. Which brings me to number two.
  2. Believe the complement is real. I get so pissed when I say something nice to someone and they brush it off! I am not speaking for my health. I’m speaking from my heart. When you disbelieve the person who is complimenting you, you are saying that they are not trustworthy or are poor judges. It’s insulting. Don’t do it.
  3. Smile. Because people generally give compliments with sincerity, it means that you earned the compliment. It’s OK to be happy about the progress you have made.
  4. Say thank you. Because saying thank you is good manners and because you should be thankful that you have come so far that people are taking notice.
  5. Pay it forward. Be attentive to the people around you. When they do something awesome or nail something they’ve been working on for a while or kill it in a performance that they almost were too intimidated to sign up to perform in, compliment them from a place of deep sincerity.
  6. Keep working, and repeat steps 1 through 5. There is always room for growth, and there is always a community that is paying attention. Pretty awesome, huh?

Pole Dance Is Not Empowering

This blog has moved to my new website! Check it out http://polecompete.com/2014/02/pole-dance-is-not-empowering/

Submission Video

I’ve chosen to submit a video for Elevated Art: A Rocky Mountain Pole Show.

 

I won’t hear back until the first week in February, but in the meantime, I’m so, so happy I decided to submit.

 

This is the first time I’ve put together a submission video, and it was super exciting. It also forced me to solicit feedback from my friends, instructors, and coaches- so I think submitting a video forced me to improve.

 

A whole group of people filmed together too, which was awesome. It was so much fun to see what my friends had put together and to cheer for everyone (and try to help keep people from getting nervous). I can’t post the video until I either perform or am rejected from the showcase, so no fun visuals. Wish me luck!

What Every Pole Girl (or guy) Needs

I asked one of my good friends to critique a pass I’m doing in a routine the other day. I hopped on, did my little dance, and looked back at her expectantly.

Her critique blew my mind! Instead of just suggesting some places that could be cleaner or where I might be able to point my toes better, she went movement by movement and told me what could be better, how it could be better, exercises to work on to make it better, examples of pros who do that thing particularly well, and exactly which muscles needed to be engaged and why. As if that wasn’t awesome enough, she also explained why it would make the routine stronger.

I will definitely be asking for her feedback again, and I personally want to make it a goal to give people feedback like that in the future. Thank you so much, Alyssa, it was amazing! Everyone needs people like you in their life, both on and off the pole.

The Problem with Being Healthy and Fit

I think it’s safe to say that Americans are, to varying degrees, obsessed with health. We spend millions of dollars on fad diets. We spend millions of dollars on yoga, sports, and gym memberships. We publish “health” magazines, and they continue to have high circulation rates, both in print and online.

I’m no exception. I love health and fitness (obviously, or I wouldn’t volunteer so much time and money to doing healthy things and then writing about them here).

The one major problem with being obsessed with health is that people get too focused on health.  The things that matter-  helping others, loving the people in your life well,  and building a life of substance- can get ignored.

Being healthy helps position you to do those things that matter most, but do not be fooled into thinking fitness and health are the end goal. Health and fitness are tools, and nothing more. Make sure that you don’t forget to build a life of purpose  and love while you work on your fitness.