My pole year in review

My pole year in review

My pole year in review

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In so many ways, 2012 has been one of the best years of my life. In a few very personal ways it’s also been one of the toughest. 

This also generality holds true for my pole year. The past 12 months have resulted in a big growth spurt for me as a dancer; this post about my year in review isn’t so much about new tricks I’ve learned. Rather, it’s about my pole accomplishment of finding myself.

I strained my elbow in 2011 and it has been problematic ever since. I’ve learned to manage it but there are days it just. won’t. work. Period. It flat-out will not straighten all the way, ever. Nor will it bend all the way. I’ve had to figure out how to work around those things. Honestly, I resigned myself to the fact that certain dream moves were now out of the picture for me, probably permanently.
Harder to work around were the psychological after-effects — the weight gain that came along with not being able to work out like I once had. I put on 10 pounds in a hurry, and on my 5’4″ frame that’s a lot. It didn’t help that I spend a lot of time in tiny clothes. I couldn’t hide from the extra weight. Body image ugliness that had plagued me off and on throughout 2011 came back, and it hit hard. I couldn’t even watch pole videos for inspiration — because I couldn’t bear to watch beautiful women with beautiful bodies. 
I felt decidedly un-sexy … and here I was, teaching classes, all the while encouraging my students to love their bodies, to take their sensual sides out for a long, seductive walk. I felt like such a hypocrite.
The studio where I teach has two recitals per year, two shows over the course of an evening, and normally I *LOVE* to perform in them. In May, it was the last thing I wanted to do. Still, I started to put a piece together. I won’t bore you with the details, but here are the Cliff’s Notes:
  • I did the routine in a flowing dress because I couldn’t stand the thought of more skin showing 
  • I did the entire routine on spin pole, when the most time I’d ever spent on spin was a 10-20 second combination here or there
  • I danced barefoot (I danced barefoot!)
  • I danced to a slow, mournful song
Probably a half-dozen times I called the studio owner, who’s also one of my dearest, dearest friends, and told her I wasn’t going to do it. I thought I couldn’t do it. I thought about telling her my elbow had given out on me again. Yes, I thought–and I thought hard–about looking a beloved friend in the eye and lying my way out of a performance.

She quietly encouraged, talked me off the ledge, made me understand that it was OK if I didn’t want to dance for some reasons, but not for others …. all of which were the reasons I wanted to back out. 
So there I was, on recital night, sacking up and dancing. I cried and cried after the first performance. 
But I survived it.
And here’s something worth noting: that routine, where I stepped as far away from myself as was humanly possible, seemed to touch more people than anything I’d ever done. Maybe they knew they were witnessing a catharsis. Maybe they were glad I was wearing clothes (ha). Maybe …. ah, does it really matter? They were moved. 

Something happened in the weeks that followed. I stopped being afraid of what my body couldn’t do, and in doing so, I took control of it again. I started to enjoy teaching again, to really enjoy it, to not feel like a huge hypocrite with each class. I started to feel like a dancer again, scouting out new music and watching videos for inspiration. 

The past year has been the one in which I’ve challenged myself emotionally, and I’ve learned that, sometimes, doing the scariest of things reaps great rewards.


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