I have lost my damn mind.
Hiya. My name is Danielle, and I’ve just entered my first pole competition. Which pretty much means that I’ve lost my damn mind.
I’ve been doing aerial pole dancing classes for about a year and a half, and I am at the level of intermediate/advanced – I am just starting to do aerial work, which is exciting and exhausting at the same time. For months now, I’ve been talking about how I want to do pole more than once a week, how I want to get in better shape to be better at pole, etc, etc, etc. So, when I found out about a new pole competition that was broken down into levels (Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced), I mulled it over…and mulled it over…and mulled it over some more. I wasn’t sure I was good enough, or that I could come up with a great theme (I was thinking about the Artistic Dramatic category, as opposed to the Artistic Entertainment, Freestyle, or Championship categories). In the end, I sucked it up, paid the entry fee and committed.
And promptly freaked out.
No, really, what am I doing?! There are some things I’m good at – certain tricks, like the pike and the superwoman – and I have decent flow in my freestyle dances, but I am not a trickster. At the end of class, I’m so wasted by the energy it takes to do our rigorous warm up and the aerial tricks that I usually just end up doing floor work instead of pole tricks (which is at odds with 90% of the rest of my class, who are all manic pixie monkeys). While I am an actor – and a good one (I have no issue stating that as fact and do not care if it makes me look like an ego freak) – I’m not necessarily a born performer in the way that a dancer needs to be. I’ve worked for years to keep things internal, to keep it small on camera. Telling a story through dance is new to me.
Anyway, with the help of a really amazing dancer friend – who is also being so generous with her time and energy to help me – I think I have a theme/character established. I chose a song that I loved ages ago, for a “someday” dance, and am using it for this competition if we stick with this theme. We had our first rehearsal to discuss everything and choreograph parts of it yesterday, and it was fun – a little intimidating when I realize exactly how much pole I will have to do in the dance itself – but overall, I left excited, despite being a little nervous. I went today to do some conditioning work on the pole, since I need to be in way better condition to perform, and I need to learn how to perform on a 45mm pole (I’ve only ever used 50mm).
Let’s just say that it was humbling.
The 45mm is tough – I have to learn how to climb, invert, hold, etc, with new grips because of the smaller size. So there is that adjustment, which is natural. Then…there’s just the physical conditioning issue. As strong as I am, I lose my strength quickly with repeated tricks. My lines aren’t clean like they need to be in competition. Mostly, I ended up feeling like I had slid backward, instead of recognizing how far I’ve come since I started. I had a few bright spots: before I left, I set about doing a few of the pose tricks that I plan to do (two of which are my stronger tricks) and holding them for extended poses to build endurance. When training for aerial, we started by holding the initial grip in an invert for 5 seconds each time, until it was easy for us. Then we moved to 10 second holds until it was easier. Then, we were able to progress to the next portion of the hold and start again at 5 seconds. It’s all conditioning to be able to go further. So, I took that principle and applied it to what I am working on for the competition. I got up into three poses and held them each for a 30 count (probably 15 seconds or so). It was at the end of what I was doing, so I was tired, but I committed to doing it anyway. So, that’s good! There’s so much more to do, and I am struggling with not overwhelming myself with it all. That’s where this comes in.
I’m starting this blog to help myself track my progress in the preparation for this competition (and possibly beyond). Because I will need to remember that it takes work, and it’s gradual, and to be gentle on myself, in addition to being able to look back and see that what I couldn’t do one week, I could do two weeks later.
So, here’s my “before” body picture…let’s see where I am at in six weeks!