The more I get to know pole dancers and their struggles, the more clear I become about my personal mission as a teacher:
To help you become confident in DANCING.
Not to just give you a cheering, warm and fuzzy feeling about yourself (the pole community is already supportive enough), but to actually teach you how to dance.
This probably means for you to transition from (years of) Pole FITNESS to Pole DANCING. Or if you’re just starting out – to focus on a continuous movement right from the start, instead of on single moves.
No matter your current level and your previous experience, at the end of the day there are certain skills that make up a good dancer.
Just recently, when I was going through the 350+ answers of my survey about dance and flow, I came to realize how many skills are actually needed. Surprisingly (or maybe not), the list is overwhelming.
So I went ahead and sorted these skills into 10 main categories:
- Body Awareness and Coordination
- Floorwork and transitions
- Musicality and rhythm
- Developing your own unique style
If you’re already thinking:
„Grrreat! I have no dance experience and none of those skills. I’ll never become a good dancer. :(“
That’s not true! You need to start somewhere though.
The list is sorted in a more or less progressive order of difficulty, although 2, 3, 4 and 5 could be switched around. Don’t take it too fussy.
Some of these skills complement each other and it makes sense to work on them simultaneously. The colors above highlight the skills that match well together.
But trying to get them all at the same time brings only confusion and frustration.
Instead, take a minute and do this right now:
- Go through each point of the list and rate your own skills on a scale of 0-10 (poor to excellent). Don’t think too much about it. Pick an approximate number and write it down.
- Look at your scores and take a mental note of your strengths and weak points.
3. Plan your individual roadmap to pole DANCING and start integrating some of these skills into your training. Focus on your weak points at the top of the list. If you have high scores at the top, focus on the more advanced skills at the bottom.
Let me give you some help for the last part. Here’s how you can work on your dancing skills:
#1 Body awareness / #2 Expression / #3 Fluidity
Body awareness and coordination are the main key to expression and fluidity. You can practice them together.
Body awareness means diving deep into each body part and truly understanding and feeling the movement, instead of just copying and faking it. Only then you can get rid of the „mechanical“ look.
Main rule: Isolate first. Then coordinate.
Learn to isolate movements and different parts of your body. For this you don’t even need to touch the pole.
After that, start „layering“ them – adding and coordinating them simultaneously. If the coordination becomes too messy and confusing, go back to the single movements.
- Use my Pole Flow tutorials on Youtube for arms, hands, head, chest, etc.
- Attend beginner dancing classes of any style (or music) that you like
Take your time to find the teacher and the dancing style you like the most. Some dancing styles focus more on feet, others focus more on hips and arms. In the end, everything that brings more awareness into your body is very welcome! 🙂
#4 Floorwork and transitions / #5 Musicality
Main rule: Forget aerial tricks! Practice choreographies and combos from the floor.
Start with single moves, transitions and short sequences. Progress further by practicing entire choreographies matched to a music.
Once you’re confident with the moves in a choreo, pay attention to the music. With time you will start “hearing” better and distinguishing smaller details in the music. This skill will be very helpful when you start choreographing on your own.
- I highly recommend Marlo Fisken’s Pole Flow and Floor Flow tutorials
- Use my quick guided choreos for beginners at the end of my Pole Flow playlist
- Take pole choreo classes at your local studio
- Take dancing classes without the pole. Contemporary classes have helped me improve my floorwork skills the most.
#6 Creativity / #7 Freestyling / #9 Develop your own style
Main rule: Stay curious and open minded. Analyze without judging.
Get creative through freestyling. Explore different styles of movement. Start creating your own combos, choreos and performances.
This is how you eventually develop your own unique style, which takes the longest from all skills.
- How to stop thinking which pole move to do next
- Tracee Kafer’s „Finding Your Freestyle“
- @carmineblackdance and @b.brazen tips for exploring sensuality
- Attend classes that offer space for explorative freestyles, ideally guided by a teacher
- Follow and observe other creative artists from different disciplines
#8 Choreographing / #10 Performing
Main rule: Learning by doing! You’ll suck at the beginning, but you’ll get better with experience.
Accept that your first performance won’t be perfect. Don’t lose your head! Every opportunity to choreograph and to perform your own piece is a valuable experience that makes you a better dancer.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many resources for choreographing and performing. At least not that I’m aware of. So, here are my tips:
- Take part in studio showcases. You will learn so much from this experience! Some studios offer extra coaching for these kind of events.
- The next step after studio showcases could be competitions. But think twice before you apply.
- More specific tips on performing on my blog
- Study other dancers’ and choreographers’ work
The creative process of choreographing is very individual. But I’ll try to share with you more from my own creative process in the future.
I hope this overview gives you and your pole training some focus. Keep an eye out for my posts and tutorials that cover each skill separately.
What are YOUR weak points that you’d like to work on?
Hit me up in the comments.
Debbie Hopkins says
Thank you for this list. It made me sit down and figure out which skills need the most work. For me Creativity, Freestyle and Body awareness/Coordination are my weakest points. I can see where your advice in each category will be very helpful. The links are really informative.
This was enlightening for me. Thank you so much!
Thank you very much for making us think about pole dance…I find it hard to judge myself but from the reaction – not necessarily the comments as they are often just about a trick or to prevent disaster – of teachers I think I know my main week points….I think my main weaknesses are coordination and fluidity /expression….and in public performances/showcases try to pull the audience in not just focus on yourself….
I suck at flow and don’t have flexibility to be graceful. That said can now string some moves together in order lol but am still a bit slow but will keep trying. Have plucked up the courage to go to my first routine class so hopefully learn something. Ty for the tips x
Im a beginner. Have take n beginner pole Before covid shut it down. Want to get back in to it