Pole pas de deux

Pole pas de deux

Saturday, August 17, 2013

August Bloghop: Social Media and Pole Dance

This months topic is social media and pole dance. I've decided to look at two negative instances where social media has restricted or complicated my social interactions as a pole dancer.

Sharing art. YouTube. If it were not for YouTube I would have probably never spent a dime on a home pole or pole dance. When I became intrigued with the idea of learning how to pole dance the first videos I found were on YouTube. Watching Karol Helms and her basic moves videos inspired me. I watched, attempted, and learned. I spent hours watching pole dance on YouTube. However, when I became brave enough to video my own dances and upload them I came face to face with the music copyright demon.

My first upload was a dance I performed to the Melissa Etheridge song, Dance Without Sleeping. The audio was muted within a few minutes after the upload. BMI music copyright violation. I just searched YouTube and the only version of the song I could find uploaded was the official version. My stance on the issue is that if I took Melissa's music, put my dance on it and used it to sell my pole studio I could see a lot of people in the music industry taking issue with me. In this instance I am not adding value. I'm using Melissa's art to fatten my wallet. However, if I am not asking for a dime and dancing on the street to Melissa's music where is the harm or theft? Could it be that by my choice of dance music that I am encouraging people to go to iTunes and buy her music?

In my scientific field we take advantage of numerous example of Open Source computing resources. These are tools that enable scientist to carry out their work without paying licensing fees for proprietary computing programs and operating systems. Linux, GRASS GIS, R Statistical Analysis, and the GNU Fortran compiler are stunning examples of how freely exchanged source code and programs benefit everyone.

Enough said. I rarely post to YouTube. I have been required to post my competition entries to YouTube and I do it grudgingly. I'm not in dance for the money and I know the difference between plagiarism and being inspired by the art of others.

My next issue is the gnawing feeling I get in my gut when I refer to a particular dance studio in my blog or on Facebook. I am homeless when it comes to a dance studio. There aren't many guys in pole dance and after nearly five years at a single studio I knew that I wanted to share my dance in any studio that would let me dance there and with any group that wanted me with them. I have been invited to dance at nearly all of the Denver area pole dance studios and I have felt welcome. Unfortunately, there is the business side of pole and each studio has to be cognizant of the bottom line. Art doesn't keep the lights on and the water running.

I used to share where I was  pole dancing on Facebook. I no longer do that. I used to share linked images of the studios where I danced here on this blog. Now I only link to them for those who are interested in learning more. I hesitate to mention studios in my blog. I just don't want to be in the middle of the money and politics. There isn't a studio owner here in Denver-Boulder-Longmont area that has ever treated me badly. I would do anything anyone of them asked of me so long as it did not harm another studio. Social media has the ability to upset a lot of people in a short amount of time. The more media exposure I get, the more I have to be on the lookout for land mines.

I'm open source and not for sale. I love sharing my ideas and art. It's free. Scientists are lousy businessmen. We have to share to advance.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Road to Chicago: I'm One Week Away

The Midwest Pole Dance Competition and Convention is one week away. My last blog entry was in May. Most of the minutes that I have spent since the day I took the stage in Longmont, Colorado have revolved around one piece of music, a lot of hard work, rejection, soul searching, and unparalleled joy.

I suffered a injury to my forearm in late February and was not able to grab a dance pole with my right hand until May. The stress was unbelievable. The deadline for the online entries for Midwest was looming in mid June and all I had was my music. There isn't much you can do in a situation like that. All you can do is sit tight and listen to your body. I had torn some tendons and muscle. If you can pick up a coffee cup and drink you might be out of the woods in a couple of months. I was told that if I kept on dancing I could end up being out until November.

The clock was running out by the time I started final choreography on my Midwest submission. As you know from my earlier blog post I was able to run the dance from beginning to end for the first time on the Dickens Opera House stage in May. I gave the video of that dance to two of my most trusted friends. Estee Zakar and Sarah Tallman.

All you pole dancers know Estee. Sarah is another one of Denver's dance treasures. Sarah is a professional dancer, and choreographer. She dances with the Wonderbound Dance Company (formerly Ballet Nouveau Colorado). She has also choreographed a number of ballets for the company. I met Sarah for the first time at my ballet school where the professional company used to rehearse. A lot of the floor work for my Midwest piece was based in classical ballet and if there was anyone in Denver that could help me with that it would be Sarah. Sarah graciously agreed to help me and we scheduled studio time on a warm June afternoon.

It was an amazing experience working with Sarah. She almost instantly memorized my music. I had been stumbling over the count for days. She looked into my musically challenged brain and just told me to count eights. And then she shared some of the secrets of her stage presence and what she thought about my Dickens dance. It was on the marley with Sarah that the arabesque's and pas de bourees took shape. In the pole studio with Estee we polished the final pole passes. The video submission rules for Midwest gave me three minutes to tell my story. I painfully cut my music and steps to fit the the time limit.

On the twenty-first of June I walked into Denver's Tease Pole Dance studio with Estee and we taped. I made a first pass and it was usable but I knew there was more. On the second attempt I was in the hardest pole move of my routine. The "Meathook" jade. Thirty seconds from home I had the first major fall of my pole dance career. On the way down I hit my ulnar nerve "funnybone" on the base of the pole. My arm went numb and I sat on the floor with one thought in mind, "Fuck." Estee was there with understanding and support. She said that a lot of her women were falling and that was just part of the competition. I missed pickup ice hockey later that night. I would be going back into the studio the next day and I doubt that I could have held a hockey stick in my right hand anyway. Estee and I taped Thursday night and I submitted my video a day before the deadline. My arm looked like it had been hit with a puck moving 90 mph.

I received an email from Mary Ellyn and Midwest Pole Dance July 2. "We are sorry to inform you that you did not qualify..." And so the soul searching began. Three days later in Estee's home studio I started picking up the pieces. I knew what I was up against going into the competition. I also faced another decision. Was I going to enter the Colorado Pole Championship? I did not have much time to think about it and that story will be another blog post. I danced and polished my routine. If I decided to enter Colorado I didn't have time to choreograph a new dance.

Lazy Saturday July 6. I blew off my morning ballet class and played on Facebook. While I was laughing outside and still stinging inside, I got a Facebook message. "Would I be interesting in dancing in one of the Midwest Showcases?" It is amazing how fast you can go from the depths of hell to the top of a mountain.

Yes! Hell Yes! Sunday afternoon August 25th. The road to Chicago ends.

P.S. I made the final round of the Colorado Pole Championship Masters (Over 40) Division.