Blog Archives

A Horse of a Different Color

As a kid, my favorite part of The Wizard of Oz was this scene:

I loved that horse. At the time, I suppose I would have said that it was because I liked horses, and look, it’s a rainbow horse, how did they do that?!

As an adult, I recognize something else about the horse: It is one of a kind.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I tend to feel like I don’t always fit in when I am in class. Sometimes, it’s an ability level issue – I’ll go to a class and find that nothing is working for me, and that everyone else seems so far ahead of me – but a lot of the time, it comes down to size.

I’m not what most of the country would probably refer to as a big girl. I’m 5’6″ and probably around 160lbs. That’s dead average for the US. But…in pole? Not so much. At least, not in Los Angeles, where thin is a religion.

In most classes I attend, I am the biggest girl, or one of the larger girls. This isn’t always true – I’m not always the biggest gal, and it’s not something that upsets me most of the time, but…I am always aware of it. No matter how advanced I get, it remains a fact that things are harder for me because I have more ass to get over my head. And that’s really frustrating.

As of late, I’ve felt like I am at a pole plateau, where I am struggling to feel like I am moving forward with  my peers. I think that’s a big part of the reason why I have been seeking out other ways to be successful in this world, like taking the free dance exploration class and my lyra classes. That success is important to me. I feel more alive and inspired when I feel successful, and it makes the days where things don’t go right a little easier to release.

A few days ago, I read a great post related to all of this – if you haven’t read Pole Geek’s recent post about being curvy in the pole world, I recommend it. It got me thinking about feeling like the odd man out, as expressed above. And, for some reason, as I was standing in the parking lot of our building, watching my boyfriend park our rental car, the “Horse of a Different Color” song popped into my head.

Somehow, it all relates. Because, here’s the thing: maybe it’s not so much about being the odd man out, but maybe – just maybe – it’s about finding an authentic way to celebrate that which makes you different. It’s about making the choice to say that it’s okay, that it might even make you special.

In this week’s free dance exploration class, we had a partner exercise, where we worked with a partner to interpret and tell stories. After our last round, there were two compliments that stood out about me and my partner. For her, the compliment was about her legs, and how amazing they were (and they are – she’s incredible). For me, it was my gaze as I danced, and that it had an emotional impact on two individuals who were watching. I don’t feel that it’s fair to boil either of us down to just those things – my partner told a story through her dance, and it was gorgeous and emotional, and yes, her body is beautiful. But, it was of interest to me that the things that were highlighted about us were so different in context, and that maybe there was a lesson there about not being disappointed that you aren’t seen in one way, but instead, celebrating the positive ways we are seen. Would I have loved a compliment on my legs? Of course! But, it means much more to me that my expression during my dance was emotionally moving to people, and I think that is its own kind of special.

I’m not saying anything earth-shattering, or even anything new, but what I am trying to do is to coax myself around to making this a practice for myself, instead of saying, “Oh, yes, totally!” and then going back to how I have always done things. I think that shift makes a difference, perhaps not in the quality of what one does, but in the quality of what it brings to their life.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Nadia Shariff, who was kind enough to grant us an interview for our Poleitical Clothing Newsletter that came out around CPDC. In the interview, we asked her, “Is there one trick that still eludes you?”

Her reply? “I’m not one of those pole dancers that is good at everything; I’m good at what I do. 😉

I think this idea is so important to remember, as we get frustrated with our differences, and as we celebrate what makes us, us:

Do what is yours to do.

Dancing at The Pole Garage

Free Style at The Pole Garage

Free Dance Pole and Floor Exploration: A Class Review

If you follow my Facebook page, you’ll know that I recently began taking class with the lovely Sparrowhawk (Iris) here in LA. She teaches a class at Metamorphosis: Mind, Body, and Pole called “Free Dance Pole and Exploration”…and I am in love!

As of late, I’ve been feeling really disconnected from pole. Taking time off over the holidays did not help, as my strength and endurance took a hit, which causes me to feel even more at odds with the movement. So, I found myself gravitating more toward dancing. Not throwing in many tricks, but just working on the floor, or around the pole. It helped me feel the joy I had been missing from my trick attempts.

Iris’s class is based in that very element: moving away from the drive to be so trick oriented, and focusing on the freedom that can come from letting go within the movement. However you choose to express it is fine, because your movement is yours. She sets parameters for each guided exploration, and you explore within those parameters. It’s incredibly freeing in a weird way – whenever I dance in her class, I find myself being aware of when I am not lost in the moment. I know when I am in my head, and I then have the opportunity to choose to let go again. I get to explore things organically, see where I bump up against challenges, see where I open up to certain things, and more. Most of all, I get to move and enjoy the movement without the feeling of needing to nail whatever I am doing (or, related to that, feeling so bad that I am not nailing anything).

On Thursday, it happened to be just myself and Iris in class, so we taped our exercises for the purpose of watching them after each dance (in a larger class, we do rounds and watch each other, although taping is permitted). I gave Iris permission to post it, so she created a supercut of the work we did, along with some info about the class and each exercise. Here is the video:

This class is beyond yummy. I love it. I love getting to MOVE and DANCE in a way that is expressive. I miss acting, and this is a way for me to explore that sort of expression again. I love getting to move in a way that allows me to feel confident, as opposed to feeling so down about not nailing tricks, or about feeling so tired after taking time off. I love the idea of exploring exercises, even when I run into something confronting.

I think what Iris is doing is so important, and I also believe there’s a place for it in our community. I suspect it is where we are headed next, too – a return to the organic nature of dance and a celebration of movement for each individual, as opposed to feeling like we have to fit into some box of This Is Good or What Is Acceptable.

If you’re in LA/SoCal, come check out Iris’s class sometime. It’s well worth it. The class is currently on Thursday nights at 6pm, in Studio City, but the time/date may change in the future. Full details can be found on the Meta website. And, if you aren’t, watch the video above and think about some of the explanations she has included. Consider playing these explorations on your own. Even when I am not in her class (because I can’t always make it), I have begun to try to incorporate the ideas into my free styles. Below is one that I recorded today, at The Pole Garage. All I focused on this time was not being in my head, following the movement where it lead me, and including one inversion on the pole. So, you see, you can set whatever parameters you want for yourself. The most important thing is to allow yourself the freedom to explore without judgement. 🙂