I have been pole dancing for 7 years. And yet it is only recently that I discovered that I have a pole dancing style. About 12 months ago, me and a friend were practicing together in my home, and I noticed that the way she executed her moves was very different than the way I executed mine. Which is odd, since we were both taught by the same teacher. Her style is very flamboyant with exaggerated arm movements that draw the eye, making her style flowy, and showy, and really quite impressive. Mine in comparison feels contained and controlled, though I like to think that it flows just as beautifully, and I’m always working on getting a smoother flow, apart from when I’m in my Pleasers and knocking out heel bangs all over the place, because, well, that’s just fun.
[dt_sc_hr_invisible_small] Let me just say here that neither of our developed styles fit neatly into any of the classifications. And there are many subdivisions in these categories too. For instance, you have Pole Fitness. Now, pole fitness isn’t just strength moves and deadlifts and infuriatingly complicated combinations, it also has elements of dance and movement to music. Then you have Pole Art, which is performance based, so the dance tells a story, and this incorporates elements of other dance types, such as ballet and salsa, but can also include floor work derived from Stripper Style pole dancing. And then Stripper Style has a whole load of sub categories including Authentic, Exotic, and Art to name a few. Elements of Burlesque have also been introduced. Then you have your standard pole dancing class that ties in elements of each one, bringing in bits of floor work from stripper style, and strength moves from pole fitness, there’s also a lot of flexibility based moves that bring contortion and gymnastic moves into it. But no single style escapes the influence of the others. No Single style is the correct one, they are all just as valuable in their history and development, and their impact on current dancers. So what if someone wants to wear 8inch Pleasers and crawl around the floor before magically flipping with the pole into drop splits. That shiz is amazing to watch!
[dt_sc_hr_invisible_small] Styles can be fluid and change over time as you will soon read. Here is Daniel Rosen’s winning routine UKPPC in 2012:
[dt_sc_hr_invisible_small] And here is Daniel Rosen in 2016:
[dt_sc_hr_invisible_small] He has demonstrated a comedy based performance showing strength and wit in the first video and demonstrates emotive performance incorporating flexibility and flow in the second. For more on Dan Rosen Pole check out his Facebook and Instagram pages.
[dt_sc_hr_invisible_small] Now what I’m going to write next will seem off topic, but stay with me because I will bring it back to developing your own style, and you’ll see how it fits together.
[dt_sc_hr_invisible_small] In the beginning when I started pole dancing, I was told that every dancer eventually develops their own style. And I thought that this was a conscious decision on how you performed and executed each move, (and sometimes it is, but not often in my experience). I also thought, ‘I’ll never have my own style’, and to be honest, I was okay with that. I never intended to publicly perform, I get stage fright really bad, so I was never going to enter any competitions, so it didn’t really matter. To be honest I was more than happy to just be able to get each move. And like all of you out there, some moves came easy, and some moves did not.
[dt_sc_hr_invisible_small] People bandy about the phrase ‘Oh, this is my nemesis move’, and then they get it after a couple of weeks of trying. And while I am happy for them, they have no clue what a nemesis move is. I have had plenty, and it has taken me a damn sight longer than a couple of weeks to be able to achieve them. For instance, The handspring. That baby took me 4 years before I could do it consistently. I don’t know whether it was fear, lack of strength, or lack of skill that held me back, but for whatever reason, I just could not do it. I left it alone, trying it sporadically, because it was one of those moves that the more I failed, the more disheartened I became about all pole dance. Now it’s one of my Go To moves that I do all the time.
Sarah Scott shows grace, flexibility and strength with a fluidity to her movements that is indicative of her style.
[dt_sc_hr_invisible_small] So here’s how it went for me. I’d been poling about a year, and I did a workshop with Jess Leanne Norris when she came to our class. I swear that woman almost killed me. Id never been on a spinning pole before, and the first hour of the class was all on spinny pole. I felt out of my depth, unsure of myself and my skill level, whether I had the strength to be able to actually do what she was showing us, but I’d paid for the class, and I was damn sure going to do my best to try. And I just about managed every move she taught. Not with any level of finesse or grace, but technically, I managed it. Mostly though, that was down to sheer stubbornness on my part. I’d never had to do an arm only straddle climb before – from the floor up to the top of the pole and back down again. I managed it though, but I still remember just how much my quads burned with the effort.
[dt_sc_hr_invisible_small] From there on out, I have been an addict to workshops with guest instructors, or master classes as they’re sometimes called. I have travelled to London and Glasgow, Nottingham and Sheffield, and various other places nation-wide just to be taught by some of my favourite dancers. Each of whom has their own distinctive style. Sometimes I was able to do all the moves, other times not. But after that first class with Jess I took a notebook and pen and made really extensive notes breaking down each move and combo so I could practice them at home. Most times the instructors let you video them too, but not always. Zoraya Judd only allows photos not video, and others don’t allow any video or photos because previous attendees of workshops have uploaded classes to You Tube without the consent of those teaching. Which is a pain in the butt, because I am a visual learner primarily, and videos help a lot. They of course have a brand and in many instances a career to protect.
[dt_sc_hr_invisible_small] Somewhere along the way, I adopted combos and moves from my favourite dancers. And because every person is different (and I don’t mean the instructors here, I mean us as students), our physiques and body type differences mean that sometimes moves have to be adjusted so that we can get them, or we find different ways of getting into them, and doing this is the beginning of developing your own style. It happens by accident, as a natural development of learning what we love. The more moves, spins, combinations, and strength moves, simple holds, flexibility moves etc. that we learn, the more adapt them to suit us, and so the continuation of developing our own style goes. But it doesn’t stop there. I hope he doesn’t mind, but I’m going to use Daniel Rosen as an example here (He knows I’m his stalker, and go to every workshop of his that I can, so I’m sure he won’t mind too much), but his style has changed significantly over the last 4 years in particular. His performances were always entertaining, as he’s a natural showman, but his style has gone from the smooth linking of feats of strength, to now include flowy flexibility and a different kind of gracefulness than was there before. It’s a continuous development of style that grows and changes the more we learn.
[dt_sc_hr_invisible_small] Stripper style – an essential component of pole still misinterpreted by those who fail to see it’s empowering values – is demonstrated here by the fabulous Jamie Taylor. She shows an awareness of sensuality with a smooth flow around the pole: https://youtu.be/5Isbz04zm60?t=119 (added this one as a link so it takes you to the right place).
[dt_sc_hr_invisible_small] So when I tell my students now that one day they will be able to do a move and that sometimes it just takes time, or that one day they will look as graceful as the people they watch on You Tube and Facebook, and that one day they will develop their own style, this is why.
Sometimes all it really takes is time.
Sure, hard work comes into it to, and we all suffer with bruises from learning new moves, and get the thrill of nailing something we have fatigued our bodies to achieve, but when it comes to developing our own style, that will just happen. One day down the line you too will be dancing with someone you have trained with for years and you too will notice that they execute and perform the same moves as you do just in a different way. And every style is acceptable, always, because I can’t see how one style can operate without the influence of the others. It is the fusion and blending of styles that make us realise how much pole dancing really is a vertical joy.