Pole pas de deux

Pole pas de deux

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thoughts on Coaching and Teaching

(Originally posted on Studioveena.com)

Just a few minutes ago I was reading the "Rules and Punishment" laid down at a New Zealand pole dance studio. Quite honestly I was shocked. Push up and planks for flexed feet, negative body statements, saying can't etc?? I am going to share my thoughts coming from the viewpoint of a man and an ice hockey coach.

It sounds like U.S. Marine Corps basic training. Pretty extreme for bad dance pole form don't you think? I have been a youth ice hockey coach for more than twenty years and hold the highest certification that can be granted to an American amateur ice hockey coach. Back in the dark ages (when I was thirteen up until the late 80's) ice hockey coaches used a variety of skating drills to punish players for poor performance, misdeeds, and lazy work ethics. One of the most notorious drills was the "Herbie or Ladder" drill that was demonstrated so graphically in the movie, "Miracle" about the 1980 USA Olympic Gold Medal ice hockey team. The idea is to take away the pucks and skate a team until someone pukes. Punishment. I've been the victim and the guy who blows the whistle. In the end the method fails for the majority of the players.

What modern hockey coaches have learned over the years is that we took a skill that every player must master (skating) and made it something dreadful. The great hockey players are by and large great because they skate as naturally as they walk and they love doing it. When you look at a great pole dancers upper body and abs you have to understand that this is one of the keys to their mastery of the pole. The Push Up and Planks build this strength. Why would you want to make a dancer dread them or associate them with negativity?

Great coaches and teachers are exceptional because they do not adopt one size fits all methods or methods used by men to teach other men how to stay alive in primitive combat. A good coach understands that every person they work with needs to be motivated and reached individually. One size does not fit all and the more intelligent a person is the more they resent "punishment." It might be fun at first but I can tell you that after living a life time of push ups and Herbies in the macho world this "guy" would run, not walk out of a pole studio that had "Punishment."

One of my hardest skating drills split the team in half and had each of the players in their group push one of the hockey nets down the full length of the ice (200 ft) and back in a relay. The team who finished the relay race first got the hot water in the showers. The drill ended up being fun and encouraged team work. The players skated their hearts out in that drill and laughed the whole time. In my opinion Push Ups and Planks should be approached in a similar manner. If a dancer is saying can't or negative things it is easy to say, "Give me ten." It is hard to pull that person aside and find out what they fear or what voices from other places are talking to them from the past.

Coaching and teaching demand that coaches and teachers learn how out to get the people they mentor to do difficult things without damaging them physically or emotionally. It's much more complicated than posting a list on the wall.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sometimes Dancers Have to Cry

Yesterday one of my friends was upset about YouTube comments left on her pole dance videos. She was subject to comments about her weight (which is ridiculous by the way), and her music choices. It's easy to be cruel from the safety of the anonymous keyboard. At least a critic puts his name and face on the page. Cowards.
Artists can really tell you a lot about the hurt that comes with sharing and rejection. How could anyone say that this isn't a beautiful pole song. There is more to pole than pop. You can only do so much Lady Gaga and then you have to cry and say it with movement.
 “We try, in the most interesting way, to swim in time. Music is time. It’s not the melody that’s important but the division of time.” –George Balanchine

Friday, November 18, 2011

Entertaining the Emergency Room Staff

Previously posted on StudioVeena.com

So how do you explain a potential broken toe to the ER admitting nurse? While driving from my aborted dance lesson with Estee Zakar I kept going over my story. Last Wednesday was going to be the start of a wonderful week of dance. I had either ballet or pole lessons scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

It all ended with a loud crack at about 4:45 Wednesday afternoon. Somehow I managed to get my right foot in the wrong place coming out of a spin and kicked the pole. X-Pole 1 - Bob 0. After about five or so minutes of waiting for the pain to subside I knew that I better get my butt to the ER. I prayed that I would be able to drive my five-speed Honda Civic to the hospital before the adrenaline wore off. I was lucky. I made it and I also made a call to my poor suffering wife telling her that I was on my way to the ER and that I probably had a broken toe.

Being an ice hockey player and coach I am all too familiar with the emergency room. I also know that if something smells funny the doc is probably going to know it so I figured the best thing to do was just say, "I kicked a dance pole." The admitting nurse cracked me up when I told her what happened. First she looked at me like I had just walked down the ramp of a spaceship and then she giggled. Then she said, "Really?"
After I limped into a room in the ER the doc showed up for the preliminary exam. Young guy, straight laced, I found out later that he is newbie. Well now he is not so newbie. You meet all kinds of crazy people in the ER. I did not kick the pole so that I could stock up on Oxycontin.

It seemed like it took two or three people to do everything. I was cut on the bottom of my foot and it took one person to clean the wound, one to watch and a third person to look around the corner to see that weird guy. Same story in X-Ray. The guy who took the pictures looked at my foot, the Minnesota Hockey sweatshirt I was wearing and asked, "Ice Hockey?" Sigh. No. Pole Dancing. The surgery scars are from a puck I took in the foot in 1988.

When they brought me back to my room in the ER my wife was there and she had given my insurance information to the admitting nurse and was trying really hard not to laugh. Her Facebook check in, "Ok so I know I shouldn't be laughing at my poor hubby in the ER." Her first comment on the check in was, "I've been here lots of times for hockey but a broken toe from pole dancing? Chuckles." After that, "The nurses in here are busting a gut."

A few minutes later the doc came back and gave me the bad news. Broken toe, buddy tape it, crutches, funny shoe, pain meds, see an orthopedic doctor for follow up as soon as possible. Go Bob. The check out nurse came in to give me final instructions and say that she thought it was really cool that I pole danced.
Just when I thought the coast was clear I grabbed my crutches and started to sit up. My final visitor was the nurse who had earlier escorted my wife to my room. She looked at me, looked at Carol, and said, "Was she serious? You really pole dance?"

Yes, and dance poles do not move when you kick them.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Doctor Dancebelts Guide

Since I have mentioned dance belts in some of my blog entries I have noticed quite a few hits on my blog with the search keywords "dance belt." I assume that some of you are looking for serious information about them and I have found that Doctor Dancebelts Guide is an excellent web resource for male ballet dancers. I personally favor the M Stevens 1099 tights, the Capezio N5930 Quilted Dance Belt and Bloch canvas shoes. Happy Dancing.

If you are ever looking to cross-train try pole dance. You are already wearing tights and a thong. What else could possibly be stranger? *smile*