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Pole geometry

Pole geometry

Pole geometry

Comments Off on Pole geometry
Disclaimer: there are a lot of pictures of me in this blog post.  Sorry. But I have permission to use them, and I know the model and photographer–which is in many cases the same person.  πŸ˜‰  Anyway, I don’t claim these illustrate perfection of form, but they do help me illustrate my point, and I could draw on them without fearing I would offend the subject! 

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One of the things that’s so AWESOME about pole dancing is being able to thumb your nose at physics and gravity. But what about geometry? Ah, geometry is tougher to ignore … because paying attention to geometry allows you to scoff at physics and gravity.

 I’m talking triangles. My students have heard me refer to triangles at least 6,487 times, and I’ll keep referring to them, because when it comes to solid spins and holds/poses on the pole, triangles are one of the most important things you can keep in mind.

Triangles are stable, the wider the better. Think about your biggest, floatiest spin ever. I’m willing to bet that you had a neutral line from your hand at least to your shoulder, and possibly even all the way to your hip. You’re at your floatiest and most stable when your body and the pole make a nice wide triangle. Compress your triangle, and you’ll hit the ground much more quickly, because the force pulling you down is greater than the force that allows you to swing out!

“It feels so unstable, I feel like I’m going to slide straight down” is one of the prevailing frustrations I hear from pole dancers trying particular new moves for the first time:

  • Shooting star AKA jasmine (AKA I’m sure a few other names)
  • Butterfly handstand/butterfly
  • Caterpillar climb
  • Aysha
So let’s break those down and look at their triangles. 
In the shooting star, pictured above, the triangle is created by the kneepit/shoulder/push hand. If your push hand isn’t in the right place to allow you to get good push/leverage, the whole triangle can feel unstable. If your kneepit doesn’t have a good grip, the same thing happens. If your shoulder isn’t engaged and your arm isn’t creating a straight line from shoulder to pole …. yep, you guessed it. The elements of this triangle work together to make a stable, secure position that isn’t ONLY about grip or strength!  PS – my bottom hand doesn’t grip the pole at all in a shooting star. Not at all. Its only job is to push me away so I get that solid triangle shape. 
Then there’s the butterfly/butterfly handstand. This move flies in the face of all intuition. In order for it to be truly stable, your hips MUST be further away from the pole than your shoulders. That is scary scary scary for many dancers. 
When your hips are further away, you’re creating a triangle from catch leg (knee and/or ankle), hips, and bottom hand/arm. Your top arm helps by pulling up and into the move. In this triangle, you are distributing your body weight evenly between your hands and your catch leg. If your shoulders are further away than your hips, then allllll of your weight is bearing down on that bottom hand/arm, which almost inevitably buckles under that weight. No fun.  πŸ™

Now let’s talk about the caterpillar climb. The single largest problem polers have when they try this move at first is trying to push up before they have pushed out. If you try to push straight up, you are once again putting all of your weight onto that bottom arm. But if you push out and then up….. ooooh, see what happens? A triangle! Actually a few triangles! First and foremost I have a solid triangle from knees to hips to bottom arm, and the triangle runs through my engaged shoulder. Then there’s another baby triangle from bottom hand to shoulder to the elbow that’s gripping the pole. 
Together, those triangles make this move 100x more solid and 1000x less exhausting. Gravity is lurking below you saying “aw, that looks hard…why don’t you come down here?” So trying to push yourself up the pole with only your arms can be an exercise in futility. Pulling up with your hamstrings and glutes, in order to get this solid triangle, allows you to then slide your legs up the pole because you’re not trying to hold all your weight up with one hand (the bottom one). 

And last but not least … aysha/ayesha. Keeping the hips away from the pole, pelvis tucked under (oh so important — for the best, most solid position, do not arch your back in your aysha unless you’re in a fang position) and allowing my legs to counterbalance creates a triangle from my knees (where they cross the pole) to my engaged shoulder to my elbow. If you’re thinking it looks very familiar, you’re right. Getting a solid aysha is much easier when you have a solid butterfly, extended butterfly, and caterpillar. The triangle is pretty much the same.

Now. See how happy I look in the picture below? That’s because I am solid enough in my little world of pole geometry that I can move my legs around into fun positions. And when I switch my legs around, my hand/elbow/torso/hips do. not. move. They just don’t. Because, um, that’s what’s holding me up in the air. πŸ˜‰

Ideally, I would like to see my small purple triangle mirroring my big green triangle just a tad more, with a right angle created by the pole plus the line from my elbow to shoulder. But you can see that my shoulder point creates a lovely right angle all by itself, and that’s solid stuff. So I can live with the fact that I maybe didn’t push up quite as far as I could’ve, which would have allowed my hips to come even further away from the pole. Super dramatic–and super solid.

That’s it. No more pictures of me, I promise. But the next time you’re working on a new move, study some pictures of it and see if you can find where the triangles are. So many moves, particularly spins and inverted moves, have them — consider them your keys to better stability and strength!

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