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.

three-dance
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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