Performance Anxiety: Poledance like everyone’s watching

Most polers I know have a complex relationship with pole. It’s so addictive, it delivers you the greatest highs and feelings of empowerment, but also, on a rough day, there’s nothing that makes you feel crappier than a bad practice session. You feel vulnerable, weak and exposed. And nowhere are those feelings more intense than in the run up to performing a routine.

Most polers I know LOVE performing, including me, passionately. It’s a chance to show off what you can do, your strength, your trickery, your fluidity. I’ll change up what moves I perform and they style of my dance depending on whether it’s other polers or non polers watching (non polers are blown away by a crossed leg drop back but don’t give a crap about janeiro. Also, when it’s non polers watching, hello twisted grip!)

Our studio, Polefire, has a summer and a winter showcase, where the top attendees are invited to perform and bring along friends and family to show them what it’s all about. This year I found it particularly difficult. As mentioned before, I overtrained and injured my elbow recently, and ended up being out of real strength training for about 6 weeks. In that time I also became rusty on my freestyle skills; moves and flow usually seem natural to me, suddenly they weren’t (although I have to work my butt off for any strength or flex gains, fluidity has always been a friend of mine). I panicked, felt on edge, like I’d lost everything that made me, me, in the world of pole.

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Poledance training: it’s all about dem toes

In the end I decided on and sacked off two separate themes and costumes within a few weeks, and just had to concentrate on the basics – finding my flow again. With about ten days to go there was no way I could put together a routine considering I was still officially easing my way back in to training and couldn’t do anything where my right arm is straight and has too much pressure on it. All I wanted was to be able to dance, to freestyle to one song without freezing up in front of everyone.

I went heavy on the emotion, choosing sad and intense songs to try to feel creative and inspired. Eventually it worked. After some stropping and dramas I felt ok about dancing again and could get through a song without feeling clunky and awkward. I choose Placebo’s cover of Running up that Hill, as the words spoke to the self-induced drama I’d enforced on myself -‘If I only could, make a deal with God, and get him to swap our places, I’d be running up that road, running up that hill…’ #emo #sorrynotsorry. The theme of the showcase was Heroes and Villains, and I chose Bad Dreams as my villain. In the end although I messed up my angles due to not rehearsing enough, I was generally pleased – you can see it here but be warned, it’s ass to camera.

On top of the pole melodrama, I’d also volunteered for my first ever silks performance. Silks is insane – there’s virtually no rest and it’s much more difficult to naturally flow in and out of moves as a beginner, being all tangled up and suspended in the air. I chose to be Kaylee from Firefly (obv) and set about a routine consisting of moves I could confidently get in and out of easily and with flourish rather than faffing around figuring out what goes where like I do with most silks moves! It was a very simple routine, but I was ecstatic that the performance went without hitch, and I’m really excited to build on that (uninjured and in training next time!) Video will follow.

There’s no doubt that I’ve lost a lot of strength, and also confidence. But it will take more than this for me to cancel a show :p

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Everybody yurts, sometimes (well, they should)

Have you ever stayed in a yurt? I hadn’t until last month, and wasn’t really sure what they were. Is glamping hipster? Or has it become cliche now? How much glam does a campsite require to evolve into a glampsite? These existential questions must prey on all our minds from time to time, but I would urge you to leave your worries at the tiny little hobbit door and enter the world of yurting (note: I don’t think that’s a real verb).

We stayed at Cae Wennol yurts, about 20 minutes drive from Betws-y-coed and 40 minutes from Snowdon. The site has three yurts, as well as an outdoor pizza oven, individual bbq areas and an open-air communal kitchen. There are ponds with dragonflies, rabbits peeping their little noses about, and cheeky magpies thinking they own the place. It’s a weirdly magical place.

All of the yurts have names, and ours was called Seren. It was equipped with a double bed and futon, as well as drawers, a chair and tables, and a wood burner complete with chimney. The floor is made of wood with rugs to keep your feet warm. It was decorated in a middle-eastern inspired “rustic” theme that made it feel like a real home. It definitely didn’t feel like a tent, more like when you are a child and you dream of making your wendy house into a real house to live in your garden forever.

 

On the first night we made a valiant effort with the outdoor pizza oven, with mixed results. We had trouble getting it hot enough, and in the end resorted to creating a thin garlic flatbread, using our pizza ingredients to create a pasta instead. I made the pizza dough from scratch without scales, weights or measurements, rolling my sleeves up in the open air kitchen with a G&T at my side and using a pint glass as a rolling pin. It was just perfect.

 

On the second night, after an exhausting trek up Snowdon and a second (this time successful) visit to the Swallow Falls we had a simpler BBQ/salad outside our yurt before collapsing into bed. That night I was so happy we weren’t sleeping on the floor of a tent, and my weary legs really valued the support and softness of a real bed! Although the yurt had a log burner inside, we found it really warm, and were throwing blankets off the bed rather than needing to worry about keeping warm. Those padded walls are really insulating.

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Each of the three yurts has its own individual “loo shed”, with a real basin and a compost toilet. There was also an eco shower, complete with hot water running off into pebbles under your feet. The whole site felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland meets Eden – one morning when I woke up and came out of the yurt, I saw six baby bunnies sprinting across the path in front of me, as if playing that now the humans are awake, it’s time to run! Another morning, as I entered the open air kitchen, a magpie flew out with a whole slice of bread in his beak – I entered to find that someone had left a new loaf on the sideboard rather than in a cupboard, and the magpie has worked his way in through the plastic to steal a cheeky snack.

 

It felt magical to have these home comforts of real beds, hot water and pizza ovens while running round barefoot and huddling around a fire. I’d return in a heartbeat and would recommend the site to anyone else staying in the area.

K xx