Pole pas de deux

Pole pas de deux

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

To Become: A Fearful Dance

My blogging has been pretty minimal the last couple of months. I didn't want to share the whiny details of what it was like to be an injured dancer. I tore some stuff up in my right forearm doing a split grip move on February 21. Nothing like the impending June 15 deadline for Midwest and only being able to sit around and watch YouTube. One of the things that made it a little easier to bear was Estee Zakar's Asia Tour. She was gone for most of the rehab.

I followed the hard to follow orders from my physical therapist and Chinese medicine specialist. I did not touch a pole from March 9th till May 12. Estee and I danced for the first time on May 12 and we had two lessons to get ready for my performance at the Vertical Fusion Cirque de Radiance Showcase at the Dickens Opera House in Longmont, Colorado.

In fact I came to Estee for our first lesson since her return with the news that I had just had therapy on my arm and the advice was to wait. I had texted the gang at Vertical Fusion Pole and Fitness Studio and canceled my performance. Estee had other ideas. She told me she wanted me in front of a big audience and that the rigging and stage setup were perfect for the different routines we were preparing. We would keep the weight off the arm and choreograph around it.

I texted the studio back with the short message, "Change of heart. I will see you tomorrow night at dress". Monday night I was doing my routine for the very first time in dress. Estee and I met one more time and we worked. Mostly marking it because my arm and body were killing me. I went from sitting around being depressed for two months, to full tilt and my skin, core, and upper body were very unhappy.

On Friday night I walked into the Dickens and had a brief shortness of breath. There was this big stage, lots of seats and riggers putting up the trusses for the poles. After the poles went up I had about five minutes to smear some Dry Hands on and test the spin and static poles. Some of the other dancers were eating burgers and Mexican food. Talk about hard core. The moment was over before it ever started.

Mostly I remember the hot little room where the performers make their last minute peace with the Gods of dance, the steep narrow back stairway to the stage and the walking out after introduction. I will never forget those lights. I knew the audience was there but I couldn't see them. There were two guys giggling in front and I remember thinking, "Get used to it. Your are in fact a guy and at least six gorgeous women have come before you."

The music started and those moments that dancers live for came to life. I wanted to leave it all on that stage. I didn't want to save anything. I danced the most fearful piece of my life. Music that I thought my body could never fill and a story that  tears me up inside.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Pole Dance Bloghop

This month all the Facebook pole dancing bloggers are answering the same set of questions. Here are my answers, Enjoy.

How long have you been pole dancing?
Five years. Seems shorter than that.

What’s your favorite song to pole dance to?
My all time favorite is Any Other Name by Thomas Neuman from the American Beauty movie soundtrack

What’s your favorite pole dance move?
Extended Butterfly. It took me forever to get it and it feels so powerful.

What pole move is your nemesis?
I would have to say Superman from an invert. I have smashed my guy parts so many times doing that one. Now it is out of Jasmine or nothing.

If you have to classify your dance style, what would it be? Ballet. My floorwork and pole to pole transitions are all based on contemporary ballet.

What inspires your movement? Why do you dance?
Music inspires my movement. It's all about the music. I'm a research scientist in real life. Dance takes me beyond logic into a world of pure feeling. I guess the only way to find out why I dance is to watch me because I can't tell you in words.

Do you study/participate in any other kinds of dancing or other kinds of training?
I'm a ballet dancer. During the summer months I play pickup ice hockey. I used to play in adult leagues but I quit a few years ago. Body couldn't keep up with the 30 year olds. The mind is willing but ice hockey is a brutal contact sport.

How often do you train, dance or attend class per week?
During the winter I take two ballet classes, at least one pole class, and one private lesson with superstar Estee Zakar every week. From May to August I play ice hockey on Wednesday nights instead of ballet class.

Any tips for training?
Quit when you are tired. There comes a point when fatigue takes over and the harder you try the worse it is going to get. Know when to quit and leave it for another day.

Do you train on both sides when you pole? Why or why not?
Only when forced by teachers. I'm lazy.

If you’re not a full time poler, how do you balance work and pole? Friends and pole? Life and Pole?
Not well. My wife would like to kill me most of the time. I'm slow on house chores, and my boss knows not to expect me to stay late on a ballet or pole class evening.

Is pole dancing, which happens to be a hobby for most, worth the investment?
I'm going to quote Merce Cunningham. He says it better than I could ever say it, "You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive."

Why did you start a pole dance blog?
When I started pole dancing I was the only guy in the Denver area pole dancing outside of gay clubs. One studio in the area would take me and initially I only took private lessons. I wanted to document my journey.

What does your pole dance blog mainly focus on?
It's entirely about dance. It's apolitical, and very personal. I couldn't tell you the first thing about the technical aspects of pole. I'm qualified to coach ice hockey and I serve as a senior scientist mentor to summer student interns at my work. Honestly, I don't want the responsibility for teaching an art. To me pole is art. I'm a newborn at art.

What’s your favorite post on your pole dance blog?

What’s your favorite non-pole blog?
Chuck's Chatter. A fellow scientist, former mentor, and good friend. He takes on the political, intellectual, and scientific stuff that my blog avoids.

What is your favorite dance studio? (If you teach or own a studio, please list one other than where you teach.)
This the hardest question that I could ever be asked to answer. I have danced at many of the Denver, Boulder, and Longmont, Colorado studios. Every one of the owners or teachers that I worked with gave me and some still give me something very special and I am grateful that they have opened their hearts and studios to me. My strongest bond is with Estee Zakar. I wouldn't be half the dancer I am without her. 

If you teach, why did you start teaching, and how did it change your practice? If you don’t teach, do you think you’d ever want to teach? Why or why not?
Right now I am not technically competent to teach. Maybe someday.

Heels or No Heels? Also any good recommendations for heels?
Oh my God. I'm fresh off a dare from Sasha Viers at The Boulder Spirals Dance Studio. Without going into details I accepted the challenge and I can dance in 8" Pleaser Platform "sexy" shoes. It's nothing I would ever do in public performance. My recommendation to guy dancers and heels: If you are going to try a pair on at the studio assume your picture is going to end up on Facebook. A lot of the women are going to think it is the sexiest thing you ever did. My current Facebook cover picture is my first time in heels. On the other hand my wife thinks I'm crazy. She looked at my new black sexy Pleasers and said, "My husband has sexier shoes than I do???" Then she gave me the "look". All men know it when they see it.

What are your favorite pole clothes?
I'm a fifty-six year old guy. I've lost a little hair, some of it is gray, and I'm built like a hockey player. (Huge ass) I wear a lot when I don't need skin or I'm not performing. When I perform I wear a basic black boy short racing swim trunks. I don't like what I see in the mirror. I just try not to look.

What’s your favorite pole? Size? Material? Height? Static? Spin?
45 mm X-Pole, chrome, 14', and I love spin pole. Ballet and spin pole are a marriage made in heaven.

If you have ever performed, how do you usually prepare your performance?
Yes I have. My seventh performance will be in the Vertical Fusion Cirque de Radiance Showcase in Longmont, Colorado. How do I prepare? I try not to puke. Seriously, I remind myself to dance from the heart and to express rather than impress. I love it when someone comes up to me before I dance and knows that I understand, "Merde!" All ballet dancers understand, "Merde!"

What’s something you love to do or experience aside from pole dancing?
I love being married to my wife. She is on a trip right now and I really miss her. Our 21st wedding anniversary is coming up and she is my soulmate. It takes a very special woman to let her husband pole dance.

How has pole dancing affected your life?
It has taught me the value of time. Balanchine said it best, "Why are you stingy with yourselves? Why are you holding back? What are you saving for—for another time? There are no other times. There is only now. Right now.”

Looking back at your life, are you surprised that you’re a pole dancer? Like were you a nun five years ago and now you’re a pole teacher? Or does pole dancing seem like a natural fit into the progression of your life?
Nothing surprises me anymore. I'm at the age in my life when I don't care what other people think. I don't want to die with regrets.

What’s one pole stereotype that you wish would go away?
Men who dance are gay. Homophobia in general sucks. It's ignorant and it goes way beyond pole. We are artists and athletes.

Best reaction when you told someone that you are a pole dancer?
That is so cool!

Also, since its May… does your Mother [or any maternal person in your life] know that you pole dance and what does she think?
She knows. I accidentally outed myself. That day is in my blog. She thinks I never grew up. She's right.

What’s your pole fantasy or dream?
I lived it. I wanted to do a full blown ballet style pas de deux with a woman who could do both ballet and pole in a public performance.

Finish this sentence. Pole dancing is….
Just another step in my wandering.