This weekend the Boulder Spirals crew threw a pole expo and fundraiser. It was my second time performing in public (if you don’t count the dress rehearsal) and it was interesting to note the differences between my first and second time performing outside of the studio.
The most profound difference for me was how I prepared for each event. The first time my objective was to drill my routine as many times as possible. This led to a good deal of fatigue and sore muscles. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind being sore at all but there is a point where it is counterproductive. This most recent performance was different in that I didn’t do the piece over and over again. This was in part due to the fact that I was on vacation for two weeks prior to the show. I toted my X-Pole across the country and set it up in my sister-in-law’s basement with the intention of perfecting my routine. (Thanks for not giving me a boatload of crap for that Karen!) What I hadn’t anticipated was the effect of humidity on the pole. There was air conditioning in the house but it didn’t stop the pole from being unworkably sticky. After leaving my inner thighs on the pole one too many times, I gave up on practicing.
I came home with four days to practice before the show. After one rather intense day of getting the sequence and combination right, I found that my process was largely mental. I knew the movement and as long as I felt confident in the order, I was content.
When I say I knew the movement, I have to qualify that. There were a few moves that I really wanted to do that I hadn’t learned in class yet. I committed the cardinal sin of finding some tutorials on YouTube and learning that way. I thought I might be able to slip it by Sasha. Sure enough, when I inverted into a Chopper, Sasha said, “Who at Boulder Spirals taught you to mount that way? That is unacceptable.” I was all
Bitch, I taught myself! Sorry. Please show me how to do it right. And she did. She also explained why it was important to do it the way she teaches. There is a reason I respect her, she seriously knows her shit. In my defense, I did it out of desperation, I was away from home, didn’t have anyone to teach me, etc., etc.
The other unacceptable thing I did was doing my routine without warming up. I found myself alone in the studio with the X-Stage and decided to give it a whirl. Since it is free standing, it’s a different experience than using poles that are attached to the ceiling and floor. It’s also taller than my pole at home. So I got on it all gung-ho and it wobbled, like it always does, and I definitely held on tighter. Then my student showed up and I wanted to impress her so I really got into it.
Holy burning biceps Batman! That was two days before the show and I had fully wasted my arms. As in, I couldn’t do anything because of the cramping.
So that’s why we do arm circles before class. They seem like such a rinky-dink warm-up move but when I had to rehearse the following evening at the distillery, I did the circles and stretched and felt no pain. Oh, and FYI, I always warm up my students. I only play fast and loose with myself.
I busted a few big scary moves that I had been taught, like the cross ankle release and inverted butterfly. Both of these moves had been too freaky to do in class without a spot and I purposefully put them in the show because I knew that the adrenalin of performing would help me nail them. Otherwise, I would manage to avoid them forever. There is something about performing this is so important. You will never get as good just doing classes than if you add a performance element to it.
The day of the performance was hard for me. I attended two outdoor birthday parties with my kids that day in record setting heat. I felt wilted and sapped of energy. I managed to get my boys off to their friend’s house for a sleep-over and rushed home to shower and costume up. I checked my email and there was a message from my father that a close relative had died a very troubling death. My father was in Italy and I had no way of getting any details or talking to him about it, so I had this huge … thing … weighing on me. I didn’t want to burst into the studio all, “My uncle just died! Everyone gather around me!” and bum everyone out (except for Linda and Tabs, thank you for being so kind and gentle) so I carried it around.
My song was “Rising” by Lhasa de la Sela, a glorious piece about being caught in a storm and carried away. I gravitate towards slow and lyrical pieces that have a lot of emotional gravity. That night it was especially appropriate. So I stood there backstage with my iPod and I listened to the music and went over the choreography in my head and just felt a little sad and alone. I don’t know if there is any video of my performance but it felt good to me. It also felt good to be surrounded by people I know who care about me.
So thank you Sasha, Anthony and Tabitha, for all the extra, unpaid work and headaches that comes with setting something like this up. I know you do it for us, your students, because it makes us better. And thank you to my friends who have been so encouraging and came to watch. I really appreciate it.