Making art: the importance of lines and shapes
Whether you’re a lyrical pole dancer or a stripper style girl or something else entirely, pole dancing is your art. So how do you take it up a notch from dogs-playing-cards-on-black-velvet? Body awareness. Consciousness of where your audience is. A commitment to making beautiful, interesting, compelling lines and shapes. You don’t need to be the next big thing in competitive pole dancers, and you don’t need to be Kelly Yvonne–that is, you don’t have to be a world-class competitor or choreographer to make art. That’s an important point. REMEMBER IT.
I think all too often, we “everyday” dancers allow ourselves to slide a little because we’re not YouTube superstars or world-class competitive dancers. We say we’re dancing for fun, just for us. To that I say this: if you’re giving the gift of dance to yourself, you might as well wrap it nicely. 🙂
Here are a few exercises to help you think in a different way about the lines and shapes you’re making as you dance:
1) Stand in front of a mirror and start moving in super slow motion, like you’re moving through jello. Arms up, arms out, arms down. Knees turned toward each other, one knee turned in while the other points away, knees pointing away from each other. Chest up and out, chest collapsed. Shoulders square, shoulders tilted, shoulders rolled forward, rolled back. No body position too strange!
Pay close attention to the shapes you’re creating. Stop when you hit on one you particularly like the look of, then refine it. Study it. Study every single nuance of it. Repeat it. Do it again and again and again, transitioning in and out in different ways. Repeat it until you know what it feels like–so you can do it without a mirror–and then try it with eyes closed to test how well you did.
2) Take the moves you discovered in #1 and see whether you can translate them into different angles and body placements. Try them while lying on the floor. Try them while sitting on the pole. Sometimes a vertical pose goes from “hey I like that” to “OH WOW” when you take it horizontal. You never know until you try.
3) Many dancers I know pay a lot of attention to straight legs and pointed toes, but less attention to their hands. Don’t ignore them, don’t leave them to flop around uselessly or chicken wing amidst your otherwise beautiful shape! When you’re doing a move you know inside and out (which means your feet and legs know what to do, you don’t need to watch them), plaster your gaze on your arms and hands. How do they look? Now do the same move and change your arms and hands. If they were down, put them up. If they were up, put them out. Spread fingers, or close into fists. Make claw hands.
4) Now–dance the same movement sequence, to the exact same music, a few times in a row. Each time change only what your chest and hands do. It should dramatically change the feel of the dance. For example: first pass is chest out, hands loose and graceful, second pass is chest collapsed, hands in claws, and your third pass is a hybrid. Record these. See how making minor changes to your chest and hands, not even altering your body placement very much, can completely change the emotion you’re conveying in a dance sequence?