As a pole dancer I know I have strengths and weaknesses, as everybody does. I am not the strongest nor most flexible person, but I am great at moves that just plain hurt like Knee Hold (aka Knee Killer). I am good at teaching moves and breaking things down. I am not good at choreography, finding inspiration to create a pole piece or selecting music (at least according to virtually every judge at every pole competition I've been in). I seriously can not find good dynamic music.
I'd love to hear from all of you now. Let's fill up the comments section. Where do find ideas, inspiration and music for your pole performances?
I am in the process of finishing up my 200hr Yoga Teacher Training. One of the principles drilled into us over and over again is to let go of expectations. I think this is a great lesson for pole dancers as well. Over the years I've seen students get frustrated with themselves over and over again because they couldn't do something they "should" be able to do, or they did it last week but can't get it this week.
Ourselves and the conditions surrounding our pole performance are ever changing. Temperature and humidity affect our ability to grip the pole. How well rested, fed and hydrated we are affect our abilities day to day. I am significantly weaker when I am having my period (overshare, I know) than when I'm not, so I just can not expect the same level of performance during that week of the month. I can't fight it, trust me I've tried. So rather than get frustrated at what I can't do, I need to let go of expectations and explore what my body can do. Maybe I work on perfecting a basic spin, or improving my freestyle rather than nailing the newest Instagram fad move.
I think to really enjoy and appreciate pole long term you need to be kind to yourself, enjoy what your body can do, enjoy the process and find your creative expression through dance.
At my studio we used to brainstorm T-shirt ideas. One student suggested I am Somebody's Goal Weight. Before someone gets offended, because someone always does when weight is mentioned, this statement wasn't a brag, it was a reminder that although she may not be where she wants with her body there is someone out there striving to get where she already is. It is a statement of appreciating where you are and what it took to get there.
I've been a little down on myself body-wise because I've gained a bit of weight pretty rapidly due to a new medication coupled with chronic illness. Anyway, I was pretty proud of the pics I got from MNPC and the fact that I crocheted my competition outfit. I shared one of the pics on a crochet forum. Someone commented how they made lots of crocheted crop tops when they were in their 20's. I commented back that I'm about to turn 37. Another person posted, "You're 36?! Dang. I'm gonna be 31 in a month and I hope I can look as good as you in 5 years!" Talk about a confidence boost. This compliment reminded me of the statement my student had made months before, and made me think about it in a greater context.
You are likely someone's pole goal. "What? I just started you", you say. You had the courage to sign up and show up to a pole class. Many are sitting at home still thinking about it. Wherever you are in your pole journey, someone is wishing they could be like you and do what you do.
It has been a little over a month since I last competed in pole and I anticipate that it will be a very long time before I compete again, if ever. I never do well at competitions, and I don't know why I put myself through the stress,
I did learn a few important lessons from my last competition. One of my students has the best attitude about competing. She sets personal goals for herself that have nothing to do with how she places in the competition. I love that!!! All you can do is prepare and perform the best you can the day of the competition and then it is up to the judges. You do not get to control the judges or who your competitors are. You might do the best routine of your life and still not place. If you make personal goals unrelated to placing you can still leave the competition feeling great about yourself. I came in dead last (AGAIN), but I had better musicality than ever before, I made it all the way through my spin pole pass, still spinning and I didn't slip in my ayesha like I did the previous year. I also got to chat with a pole friend who I greatly admire and she told me she doesn't do well in competitions either. I couldn't believe it. This woman is seriously phenomenal. How could she not place? From this I learned you can be a great, entertaining performer and amazing instructor and not do well in competitions.
I got a lot of great feedback from people who have known me for years and seen me perform many times. That feedback was far more valuable than the feedback I got from the judges because I allowed me to see growth from where I was to where I am now.
I went into this competition planning on it being my last, so for the first time EVER I purchased the photo and video packages. I never did before because I always place last or close to last, and why would I want to be reminded how much I sucked? I am so glad that I purchased them this time. The photos are great and I am even proud of the performance that was captured on video.
Compete to meet your personal pole goals, compete because you love being on stage, but don't do it to win because there are too man things out of your control and you may make yourself very, very miserable. Make pole your happy place and let your unique style and story shine.
Feedspot.com recently created a list of the Top 75 Pole Blogs. Aerial Bliss made the list at #61. That is pretty amazing since we haven't had a blog very long and I post once every 1-2 weeks, but we're there. See the whole list at https://blog.feedspot.com/pole_dance_blogs/.
Perfect your back hook at home with our great back hook tutorial.
You will need both a good Wide Legged Front Hook Spin and Back Hook Spin to do the combo in our latest tutorial. Check it out below.
I've decided that I am much better (more entertaining) on video than I am in writing. Thus most of these posts will be links to videos from now on rather than me pretending I can write well.
Here is my video on how to have great grippy skin all winter long.
By special request, our Inverted D Tutorial is now available. I was a total dork when recording this one so there are a ton of outtakes at the end.
What tutorial would you like to see next?
Years ago many large pole competitions tried to distance themselves from strippers/strip clubs through costume guidelines and prohibiting overtly sexy moves. Thankfully, at least to me, the sexiness is back. I love watching the sexy/erotic/exotic/classic category at competitions, it is my favorite. I don't know what you look for in an exotic performance, but I want it to be DAMN sexy, I want to want you by the end. The problem is that rarely do I see the people giving those kinds of performances winning. Usually it's the person who does more of a lyrical or sporty routine with the addition of heels, a body roll and hair flip that wins. This is very disappointing to me. I'd rather the person who really embodied the spirit of the category win over the person with slightly harder tricks, or slightly better technique, but less sexiness. I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on this matter. Please comment below.
Today marks the 7th anniversary of Aerial Bliss opening. Honestly, it is remarkable I've made it this long. According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. How have I made it so long while others have failed? Keeping my overhead low, not needing to rely on the business for my main source of income, and just being stubborn. I feel like a lot about the industry has changed in the past 7 years, some for better and some for worse.
How will Aerial Bliss continue on in the future? For sure, I will continue to work on our YouTube channel to provide more great tutorials. I'd like to do more performing at bars and other events. My ideas for the future of the studio are always evolving, so you'll have to stick around and see what we do next.
If you live in the Madison area celebrate with us! We are having $7 classes on October 7th to celebrate our 7th Anniversary!
Jackie began her pole journey in 2008 and opened Aerial Bliss in 2010.