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Preparing for a Performance, written by Vaidehi Amair

Performing can be one of the most nerve wracking experiences for both rookies and veterans of pole alike. Some might feel like they have an excellent handle on performing, yet most of us feel nervous and sometimes even terrified of performing; that doesn’t stop us from doing it though.

Just recently, my friend Julie Tzeng and I performed in Los Angeles at a venue called The Zanzibar at the weekly Luminous Movement event produced by Lu Fam Pro. The process for getting ready for that was incredibly helpful despite the fact that we didn’t have as much time as we would have liked on our hands. Nevertheless, as we went through the process we realized that we had developed our little drill to prepare for future performances, with of course, room for improvement as always. I would love to share with you some of the things we did to help us get on stage without feeling as crazy and nervous as we did when we started.

Preparing for a Performance

Photo Credit: John Higgins

We had two weeks to prepare for this show. Week one was spent deliberating on days and times we could meet, which songs to dance to, all at a pace that quite frankly, was wasting much needed practice time. The show was around the corner and we realized, (with fire under our asses) that if we didn’t get on that pole and practice, things were not going to end well.

We ended up having about 3 pole jams, each 2 hours or so and in that time we did a few things to help us get ready. I will list these tips and provide a brief description but before doing so, I would like to note that these techniques and tips have been collected from a variety of studios, teachers, dancers that inspire us, and from our own needs as pole dancers. We have a wonderful community that allows any pole dancer to draw inspiration, structure, technique, style and methodology from a variety of sources, and that is just what we did. Thank you pole community in advance and in retrospect.

1. FREESTYLE TO YOUR CHOSEN SONG. Doesn’t matter whether you’re good or bad. Ready or not. DO NOT JUDGE. Just FREE STYLE.

2. NOTE YOUR GO TO MOVES. What do you find yourself doing readily and easily? How can you perfect them? How can you string them together?

3. NOTE THE MOVES YOU STRUGGLE WITH OR HAVE TO THINK ABOUT. These are the moves you want to take extra time to practice. Think about how you can get in and out of them gracefully. Practice smoothing out the transitional moments between the moves so that every moment feels like a dance. The last thing you want is one of those “hand stuck in crotch/pathetic slow descent to the ground” moments on stage.

4. WRITE DOWN A LIST OF EVERYTHING YOU KNOW. What holds do you know? Sits? Spins? Combos? Climbs? Descents? Floor transitions? PHYSICALLY MAKE THAT LIST. We made ours in google docs with the categories along the top.

5. While you’re at it, make a list of MOVES YOU WANT TO WORK ON/learn/perfect so that you have your future work cut out for you 😉

6. FREE STYLE again with this knowledge and FILM YOURSELF. YES. FILM YOURSELF. Then WATCH what you did while smiling and fully accepting your beauty and grace. What worked? What didn’t? What can you keep, what can you expand on? Can you maybe hold a pose longer? Maybe emphasize a different body part? Add a head roll? An arm embellishment? This leads to the next exercise.

7. FREE STYLE WITH A SPECIFIC MOVEMENT IN MIND. How about a freestyle where your head leads? Try that for 30 seconds. Next try a freestyle where your arm is most active and alive. Try a freestyle leading with the leg or where the leg is emphasized. You will be surprised by how this changes your movement and the new style or ideas it will create.

8. WORK THE FLOOR. Can you start a piece by crawling on the floor? How about ending a piece on the floor? What are the transitions and floor work that you can do between moves or passes? How can you milk these moments to give yourself a rest moment whether you are breaking up two combos, starting with floor work and slowly making your way up, or coming down and ending your combo with floor work? Play with the floor work. Marlo Fisken, and Annemarie Davies are two of my favorite floor workers. Most importantly, DON’T FORGET to dance your way through your performance, especially when approaching the pole or switching to another pole. When you approach the pole don’t just walk up to it and start doing your tricks, dance your way into it. Stay in character and find ways to amplify and accentuate your dance movement as you move towards the pole.

9.MAP OUT YOUR SONG. Notice the lyrics. The drops, the crescendos; what movement do you visualize behind those differences in music? A drop can be a moment when you do a sudden or abrupt movement, or it can be the catalyst for your combo. A crescendo can be an ascending move to the top of the pole. How long is it? Can you take your time to build suspense? What do the lyrics say? Can you act something out or manifest a movement that expresses the emotion in the lyrics? How long does each section last? At what moments can you look at your audience?

10. MAPPING YOUR SONG. I am sure there is more to it than this,  but sometimes you just have to start somewhere. Write the lyrics down. Section it off with the length of time for each element (drop, crescendo, certain lyrics, intro, outro) and then write down the moves and combos you envision during that time. Boom, you’ve choreographed your own performance. Now practice!

Click on the following link for an excellent reference by Kristy Sellars with more details about mapping out your song:

Did you find this helpful? Would you like to add some of your own tips? Add them in the comment section below.

If you want more, stay tuned for a short video clip with tips and strategies from other fellow pole dancers.

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