* This article was originally a guest post on the Bad Kitty blog. Since their website has been down for a while now, I’m making it available here. *
Have you ever caught yourself sitting at work or on public transportation, listening to an inspirational song and imagining the most fluid, beautiful pole dance to that song? You choreograph an entire routine in your mind and can’t wait for the next training when you can finally try it out on the pole?
Well, this is me pretty much all the time… 🙂
But when you face the pole, your mind goes blank. You do a few spins, you get off the pole and you start thinking…
After lots of starts and stops you manage to build a short routine, which in the end has nothing to do with the one you dreamed up before. You record it and unsurprisingly it doesn’t look fluid. You think:
“I’ll just repeat it until it gets fluid.”
You repeat it:
- Five times: Transitions get cleaner
- Ten times: You start building muscle and motion memory
- Days and weeks of practice: You can do it without even thinking
At this point you’re supposed to be ready to perform it in front of other people.
Yet, when you look at it, there’s no flow and it doesn’t look graceful at all. You see a bunch of acrobatic stunts but no dance.
You end up changing your routine many times, even on the night of your performance.
This is perhaps the most nerve-wracking moment of all. I know it all too well, because I’ve been through these frustrating stages many times. But as someone who’s been taking dance classes for a while now, I took this challenge on and decided to turn my pole routines into an actual dance.
It took me a few years, but when I work on my routines now:
- I know how to connect moves smoothly and transition freely between them
- I can get out of my head and enjoy my practice much more
- I like what I’m seeing and I feel confident dancing and performing in front of others. In fact, choreographing and performing at shows and competitions became the place where many of my passions come together and the moments I’m most proud of. ❤
Instead of sharing an endless list of tips, I chose for this article three simple but super powerful techniques that will open your mind to thinking and feeling your body differently. They can help you whenever you’re working on a routine/choreography, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced student or whether you’re high or low on the pole.
Stop thinking about tricks. Stop thinking about transitions. It’s all one movement.
By far the biggest win for smoothness and continuity in your movement lies in the way you connect moves together. That’s the moment moves start melting into one other. When you can’t tell when a move starts or ends. When tricks become transitions and transitions become tricks.
#1 Don’t cut transitions short, just to get to the next trick. Extend them for as long as possible.
Are you constantly thinking about the next move and looking for the shortest way to get into it? Then you’re probably disconnecting a natural movement and dropping its energy. The longer you continue your transitional moves by adding more shapes and details, the more your routine will look like a dance piece. Try to make transitions just as pretty as tricks. In fact, my personal pole combos consist of 70% transitions and 30% tricks.
To get you started, I’ve prepared a video you can get at the end of this article, showing exactly how to create long transitions on an actual pole routine.
#2 Don’t get stuck in poses. Use same speed for tricks and transitions.
Don’t speed up your transitions, only to pause in tricks. The music should guide the overall tempo of your dance.
There’s a common misconception that we should hold trick poses during performances to show their full beauty. But there’s a better way to make them look more fluent and effortless. Slow down the getting in and out of tricks. Move through shapes, instead of being stuck in poses.
This performance by world champion Natalia Tatarintseva was an eye-opener for me and it turned my understanding of pole movement on its head. This is what it looks like when tricks and transitions become one movement. Pay attention to how long she’s holding moves, even the splits.
Cheat tip: Slow it down.
This tip is for everyone who wants immediate results. All pole routines look more smooth and graceful, when you’re moving slow. If everything seems too complicated, this is the easiest way to become more fluid. Try it out.
#3 Avoid complete stillness
The secret to a continued movement is to avoid complete stillness. Unless there’s a sudden break in the music or you want to use the break artistically with intention. Otherwise keep a slight motion all the time.
What can you do when you find yourself freezing? Return your previous movement to mind and try to continue the same motion in the same direction. Challenge yourself to go further, even when you think you’ve hit the end.
Another simple way to avoid stillness is adding a gentle movement with your head or your hands.
If you can make a habit of at least one of these three techniques, you have a powerful tool in your hands. You’ll be able to connect your favourite moves and turn them into a graceful dance. You’ll come up with your own ideas for routines and feel more confident with performing them.
Want to learn exactly how to create a pole routine using these techniques?
To get you started, I’ve prepared a FREE video where I show and explain exactly how I use these techniques to create the beautiful pole routine below. You’ll learn how to come up with smooth transitions, make it feel natural and look effortless.