Pole pas de deux

Pole pas de deux

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Who Owns It?

I found myself in a different place yesterday. I was helping a friend with choreography for a pole dance performance that she will be doing this winter. I'm a dancer and I'm still active. I stumbled into choreography because I wanted to go beyond freestyle in my dance and as far as pas de deux is concerned it is the only way. For two people to dance together they have to have a road map.

To help someone else in a non-professional situation and also not interfere with their mentor is difficult. Especially when some of my favorite things to dislike about pole dance performances come up and I see a way around the cliches that annoy me so much. I want to speak out. It's my nature.

I've been a head coach, senior scientist, dad, etc. I'm used to being on the pointy end. I guess you know that when a platoon walks in the jungle the guy in front is usually the first one to get blown up. I've been blown up a lot in my life and I'm sure that expressing my artistic choreography ideas might upset a few people but here are some of the things that I just think end up being cliche and or boring.

  • Too many tricks. Four minutes of music and twenty-five tricks. I'm a physics guy right? That is less than 10 seconds per trick. What happens to form when you rush? All the moves get short. If you aren't Amber Richard tall, short isn't good. Would you believe that Nureyev was 5' 8"? If you ever get the chance to watch some of his performances on YouTube I'm sure that you would never think he was under 5' 10". Baryshnikov is 5' 6". Lines are the illusion and you can't hit long lines in a hurry.
  • No story or insight into the music. It's in the background because the dancer likes it. It might as well be white noise to the audience. The music should inspire the movement. The interplay between the music and the body is what most of us think of when we think of dance. 
  • Too many camel toe shots. They can be so cliche. It is even worse if the feet are sickled, winged or flexed. The platforms aren't going to hide a bad line. It can end up looking like a thirteen-year old walking in her first pair of heels. If you dance barefoot a bad line is even more noticeable. The splay is a powerful, dramatic and sometimes sexual move. Don't over do it. I'm a guy and I'm totally comfortable doing a helicopter inversion when the music says it has to happen. If a woman blasts me her crotch six or seven times in a routine it is just over the top. 
  • Glued to the pole. Think about coming out of a move and not carrying it to the floor but being able to dance away from the pole. You are a dancer right? Steal some steps from Jazz, Modern, etc. Show some sexy that is just you. Put the focus on yourself away from the pole.
  • Trying to be sexy. Your audience knows, trust me. Refer back to the teenager and her first tube of lipstick. Sexy is in your spine and you will say it every time you move if you really feel it.
Now that I have put my top five pet pole dance bummers out there I have a few suggestions that have helped me move my dance in different directions.

  1. Dance to music that is just not you. Pick something you hate even if you have to stand there because it  does nothing for you but pisses you off. Poker Face (Lady Gaga version). It makes my skin crawl. I used to share a semi-private lesson with a woman who loved blues. I'm not big on blues but I found myself moving differently. I never imagined I would dance to Eric Clapton or Robert Johnson.
  2. Put a piece of tape on the pole. I learned that from Estee Zakar. Don't go below it. It will keep you off the floor or aware that you need to climb above and transition standing up so you can dance away.
  3. Steal. Steal from other dance forms. Balanchine is a ballet legend and he openly told people he stole stuff. 
  4. Dance to express not impress. You don't have to do any move because someone tells you it has to be there. 
  5. Listen to your music and just freestyle it at first. Don't write down a move unless you feel it.
  6. Don't let a choreographer use you like a robot. A good choreographer lets you be on the pointy end a lot of the time. Your body, your dance. You own it.

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