The problem with watching too many awesome pole dancers on Youtube is that it seriously skews your idea of what you should, or are able to, look like. This is most definitely the case with Natasha Wang, Michelle Stanek, Jenyn Butterfly and Dirdy Birdy. At least Dirdy Birdy, being an instructor, posts lots of tutorial videos, some just for beginners, so I can watch those without thinking that I totally suck. But to be perfectly honest, it just looks better when she tosses her hair than when I do it.
Most of the time these videos are inspirational but I discovered that if I watch a bunch of Natasha Wang and then watch a video of myself … well, it’s not hard to make unfavorable comparisons.
For the last few months Sasha Viers, owner of Boulder Spirals, has been choreographing a duet for me and Stacey Mulvey, to perform at An Evening of Mindful Movement, a benefit for the non-profit Angel Organic. It was an opportunity for us to show the public that while pole dancing can be very sexy, it can also be lyrical, athletic and soulful. It ain’t all about humping the pole.
We met once a week for what I started calling “90 Minutes of Terror”. Sasha was amazing to work with as she put Stacey and me through the process of learning how to dance together. We’ve free-styled on the pole together before but this was different. We learned how to “base” each other, to communicate non-verbally, and how to trust – which wasn’t hard, I totally trust Stacey and Sasha. She had us doing flips and standing on each other and hanging off each other and trying just about everything.
Many things we tried and threw out because we weren’t comfortable with it, or didn’t have the flexibility (that would be me) to pull it off, or didn’t have the time to get really good at it. What I loved was the spirit of absolute collaboration. I thought I was going to walk in there and be told what to do but it turned into more of a conversation. More importantly, it was a conversation that valued absolute honesty. When Sasha asked me how I felt about doing a certain move, I was able to say, “I can do it, but I don’t feel like I have the time to do it well. Can we do something that I know I can nail?” and there wasn’t any disappointment or cajoling afterwards. Just a, “I really appreciate your honesty. Now what would you like to try?”
I love performing and our show went well. Stacey had to dig deep to find the time and energy to do this piece and when we hugged after the show, I felt how important it was to her and I was honored to be a part of it. I also feel like with every performance I get a gift. For Cinquo de Burlesqueo I got the Cowgirl, for White Rabbit I got the Cross-Ankle Release, for Steampunk Circus I got the Stargazer, and for this one I got the outside leg hang. I am very conscious of this when I prepare for a show. I ask myself what do I really want nail? what has been scaring me? knowing darn well that by the time I perform it, I will own it.
So we choreographed, rehearsed and performed. Then I watched the video, unfortunately after I had been on a Youtube marathon of watching awesome performances from PoleArt 2012. The result was that I felt kind of “meh” about my dancing; not the choreography, but all the ways in which I could have done better. But I must remind myself that I took pole dancing up this year. I am 40 and have two kids. Knowing that, it’s pretty cool what I can do.
PS: Can I tell you how much I hate showing my torso? I had to get over showing my midriff for this piece because I needed my bare waist to grip the pole for the Outside Leg Hang move. I think going out there without a shirt on was scarier than performing.