You may be in a class and freeze when your instructor says you’ll have a freestyle session. What do you do? It’s hard not to compare yourself to other dancers. You can feel self-conscious and awkward.
When you freestyle, it’s supposed to be improvisation rather than the choreography most dancers thrive on, so it’s a very different pole dance than what you’ve trained for.
If your teacher springs a freestyle session on you, breathe, feel the music, and try out some of your favorite moves. However, the secret to freestyle is many memorized combinations in your repertoire. Once you’ve perfected the sequence, you can work on finessing the details and flow so your dance looks unrehearsed and effortless.
If you’re interested in becoming more comfortable with freestyle poling, follow these tips:
Start with Basics For Discovery
There are several techniques to help you discover new moves and movements when building your freestyle repertoire. Always start by grounding: plant yourself in one place around the pole, and dance without moving your feet. You will discover some new methods to wrap yourself around the pole.
Next, choose one body part to initiate all your movements. Often, dancers will lead with their heads or heart. Try a less prominent feature, like starting every move with your shoulder or toes.
You can also experiment with different levels and clothing. For example, practice a move while standing, crouching, kneeling, sitting, and even lying down. You will find new transitions and variations of movements at different heights.
You can incorporate polewear, like leg warmers, or pair a decorative scarf with your pole dance bodysuit to see how removing something in your routine changes a movement or adds to the overall effect. By experimenting with these new layers of creativity, you will be more comfortable jumping into your freestyle dances.
Video Your Progress
Always keep track of your progress, but it’s even better to video your practices. Watching the videos can help you identify segments and transitions that look good and flow well so that you can save them for future use.
Instagram (either private or public) is perfect for free video storage. You can keep your favorite sequences with notes to yourself about execution in the future. A simple pen and paper can work, too, if you're not a visual learner. Keep a freestyle journal of your favorite moves, sequences, and routines.
If you use a social media platform to track your progress, you can also use it to find inspiration. Join an online pole dancing community or follow other freestyle pole dancers for ideas, save your favorites, and make your own videos when incorporating the new technique.
A worldwide community of pole dancers will have different dance backgrounds and societal and musical influence to create genuinely unique routines. You can draw on these for inspiration.
Practice Makes Progress
Once you have a solid background of moves and inspiration, it’s time to build combos. Freestylers don’t create every aspect of their routine on the fly. They have set combos they can string together in different ways to make a one-of-a-kind dance. Practice your combos over and over again until they become second nature. The more combinations you have memorized, the more easily you can freestyle to a whole song with a memorable routine.
Challenge yourself when you’ve established a solid combination by practicing it on your non-dominant side. You’ll have twice as many segments to draw from when freestyling. Again, when you’ve perfected a sequence, record it to remember for later. You’ll be amazed at how many combos you create, and you will need to go through your old pole catalog to refresh them occasionally.
When Doubting, Visualize
If you are struggling to connect your combination and have awkward transitions, employ a classic sports psychology trick to refine your practice: visualize the combo with flowing, smooth transitions a few times in your mind before trying to run through it again. You will find that your fearful or mind-blanking pauses will disappear, creating a smooth and polished piece.
If you still find the transition tricky, adding a spotter for extra reassurance can help eliminate your hangups to nail your routine.
Lastly, if you are ever struggling to get going, even just changing into a new pair of pole dancing shorts can give you the energy you need to start. Blast your favorite song and have some fun.
Don’t think too much and just move to the music. It doesn’t matter if the dance you’re doing makes sense, looks good to anyone else, or is technically even considered pole; you're expressing yourself and feelings inspired by the music through movement. If you don’t judge yourself or let your reservations stop you, you may stumble on something unique that will kickstart your freestyle session.
Pole photoshoots can be more daunting and challenging than a performance in many ways. You should put some time and effort into planning your shoot. A phenomenal photoshoot isn’t all about the photographer’s price tag but how much you invest into the prep work. Your prep work will show in the results. Here are some tips to prepare to make your shoot spectacular:
1. Decide Your Theme or Concept
If you have an overall vision for your photo shoot, it will help guide the rest of your choices. Experienced sports photographers are pricey, especially for dance photos. Look at their portfolios and select one with style aligned with your theme.
Some photographers can switch between types, but they often have a signature that will come out in their photos. Assess if they will capture more strong, feminine, whimsical, or sensual shots for you. Once you have your theme and photographer, you can move on to outfits.
2. Pick Your Pole Dance Outfits
The number one mistake is selecting an outfit that isn’t polewear or something you can wear to class. You won't have enough grip or coverage for your shoot if you don’t have enough for a workout.
Give your chosen outfit a trial run at class or home to see if it will hold up through your inversions or split moves. The same goes for heels: if you plan to wear pole dancer shoes, ensure they fit well and you are comfortable performing in them before the shoot.
Consider your shoot’s location. It doesn’t take much to make a standard photo look striking. For example, if the background has some orange throughout, wear a complementing blue that will pop in the images. Or, if your site has good lighting, choose something nearly sheer or translucent to capture some dramatic lines you otherwise wouldn’t be able to accomplish.
3. Choose Your Poses
Like any other professional photoshoot, you should know what you want regarding pictures. If you know what you want, make a list. Build your list with a few easier warm-up moves at the beginning with your must-have next.
After those, put in your final moves and a few backups if you have extra time. You’ll probably be nervous and forget the plan unless you write it down. The photographer can refer to the list and call out the next move to keep things progressing.
If you plan on a costume change during the shoot, try to build it in when you’ll need a break. For example, perform your most challenging move at the end of the run with your first costume. Then, give your shoulder muscles a break while you change. After that, you’ll be refreshed for another, more complex pose after the change.
Remember that you will hold the poses longer than usual to get the photos, so don’t choose any moves you’ve just barely mastered or that still feel a little shaky. Play to your strengths and choose moves you’re comfortable enough with that you can focus on the finer details like your finger placement, pointed toes, and facial expressions. One awkward hand placement will ruin a photo guaranteed.
4. Treat Your Shoot Like A Performance
You would have a dress rehearsal if you were doing a performance or competition. You should do the same for your photoshoot. Grab a friend to stand in for the photographer while you run through your moves list in costume. They can grab photos so you can see how they look in your outfit and if you need to adjust your body placement.
You can even show the shots your friend captured to your photographer, while adding your notes about how you would like a frame to look. If you don’t include a trial picture of yourself, you can grab an ideal photo online to show your photographer your goal.
Like an exhibition, you don’t want to overtrain leading up to your shoot. Have light sessions that will keep you limber without overdoing it, leading to soreness and not-so-pretty bruises for your photos. Afterward, don’t forget to cool down and stretch. Make sure you schedule a rest day with plenty of rehydration and food.
5. Tips for The Day
Ensure you get up early enough to eat a good meal one to two hours before your shoot. Have your hair and makeup finished before you arrive so you only have to warm up, and get dressed before starting your shoot. Bring emergency makeup and hair touch-up products just in case you need them throughout.
Other things to bring in your dance bag are:
- Your standard dance towels for you and the pole with backups (as you may sweat more than you would in class)
- Your costumes, shoes, and props
- Plenty of water with a straw so you don’t mess up your makeup
- Easy-to-eat snacks to keep you on time and free of crumbs or other food fiascos on your costume
- Your list of pole moves for the day. Have one for the photographer with your example photos and one for yourself with notes on placements that you can review before each pose
- Face/makeup wipes for your feet as the floor can be dirty. You’ll want to wipe your feet before each pose, so they photograph clean throughout
When in doubt, always go basic and have fun. You’re paying the photographer to take flattering photos of you, and performing an easier move you enjoy will show through in the pictures.
The same goes for your pole dancer outfits. Don’t go overly complicated. If you do, you could feel self-conscious and lose focus. Choose something comfortable and confidence-boosting that won’t detract from your impressive moves in the photos. Breathe and try to enjoy yourself. Some of the best final shots come from relaxed goofing off between planned shots.
Finding the perfect pole dancing music can be challenging, whether you’re stuck in a rut during practice or searching for your next performance song. Many songs have been overdone, played in every pole dance clip, or are the soundtrack to every nightclub experience.
But suppose you’re going for something different: a Bohemian theme, a classic power ballad, or a never-been-done song. In that case, there are so many genres of music to pick from—dark, slow, dramatic, heavy rock, romantic, sensual, classic, retro, EDM, psychedelic, and female power, just to name a few. Here are some tips for selecting your next tune:
Focus on a Theme
Sometimes your routine and your song will emerge together, but you will often have your moves worked out before looking for the right musical piece. It helps to keep your routine’s theme in mind when researching music choices.
Does your performance have a purpose? What message are you trying to convey? Are you trying to let loose and have fun? Or are you digging deeper and using this performance to heal something in your past? Your theme should be reflected through your music, narrative, props, and pole dance outfits.
Ensure It Has Deep Bass
While you can pick any song that connects with you, the best pole dance songs typically have a deep, thumping bass. This enables you to feel the music through the floor, guiding you to all your marks for your moves, especially your pivots and spins.
Find a Song That Matches Your Dance Style
Similar to your theme, you have a signature dance style. Whether you are more sultry or high-energy and powerful, you want to find a song that will track with your chosen dance style for this routine. Here are some common styles and examples for each:
Dark and Intense:
This would typically be a slow, edgy routine. A red pole dancing bodysuit would go perfectly with these songs:
- Take Me To Church - Hozier
- Radioactive - Imagine Dragons
- Human - Rag’n’Bone Man
- I See Red - Everybody Loves an Outlaw
Romantic and Sensual:
Again, this would be a slow routine but a little more soulful and sweet than the previous style. There are so many romantic songs from every era, but here are a few:
- Earned It - The Weeknd
- Champagne Kisses - Jessie Ware
- Sexy Boy - Air
Retro or Vintage:
If you’re looking for something unique or want to glam up your practice or performance, these songs will transport everyone with you. Go for the complete look and wear pole shorts with garters.
- Big Spender - Shirley Bassey
- Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend - Marilyn Monroe
- I’ll Be Seeing You - Billie Holiday
The songs below are classics for a reason. They’re perfect if you’re just starting out for a competition or you want some morale-boosting songs playing during a freestyle or studio class. If you love classic pieces but don’t want to choose something overdone, look for covers of the music to add a fresh take to your routine.
- Carousel - Melanie Martinez
- Lady Marmalade - Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, Pink
- Back In Black - AC/DC
- Don’t Stop Believing - Journey
Empowering and High-Energy:
Depending on the message you are trying to convey, here are some songs with strong, independent messages to bring some oomph to your routine.
- You Don’t Own Me (feat. G-Eazy) - SAYGRACE
- Swan - Willa
- Beautiful - Christina Aguilera
- U + Ur Hand - Pink
If you’re putting on a show for Christmas, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” or Christina Aguilera’s “Christmas Time” are classics. If it’s for Halloween, both Dope’s “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” and Evanescence’s “Haunted” have the right beat and are on the theme.
Analyze The Music
This can get very technical with music notes, lyrics, and spreadsheets, or you can just run through your dance with the song on. Sometimes, it will click right away; sometimes, you need to tweak your routine slightly. If you have to do a massive overhaul of your moves or it doesn’t flow, move on to one of your backups.
Pick a Song You Love
No matter what, you should pick a song you’re wild about. Otherwise, it’s unlikely to inspire a one-of-a-kind performance. You will automatically elevate your moves when dancing to a song you enjoy. Your audience will be mesmerized if you lose yourself in your music and dance.
With that in mind, you can ruin a song by listening to it too much. If you’re starting to dislike your music or struggle with your routine, work on your combos without it. By working with counts, you can pace each move and pose perfectly timed to the music when you add it back in. Plus, you’ll get a break from hearing the song on repeat all the time so it will stay fresh.
Don’t forget—if you’re feeling uninspired, get some new perspectives. Ask for some help from your pole friends. Have them listen to your song choice because they may hear a new melody or beat that can help inspire new moves you hadn’t considered before. You can ask how they would dance to the song or what sequence would go perfectly with the hook. Lean on your community, and you will have a fantastic routine while making fun memories along the way.
Summer is incredible for longer days, enjoying the outdoors, and tanned skin. However, it can make your pole practice challenging and dangerous when it impacts your grip. Small amounts of sweat can aid your grasp, but when you’re melting like a popsicle, you’re bound to have unintended slides.
Here are some essentials to keep in mind as the heat starts ramping up:
1. Avoid Sunbathing, Tanning, or Spending Time Outdoors
These recommendations aren’t easy to follow in the middle of summer, but try to avoid these activities on the days you plan to dance. Spending time outside before can lead to dehydration, overheating or having heat stroke before or during your class. None of these are ideal for your pole dancing workout.
If you sunbathe or lie in a tanning bed, you’ll have sweat buildup on your skin, and the lotions will only make you slip more in class. If you overdo it in the sun, you might feel the burn as you spin around your pole, one of the worst times to discover a sunburn.
2. Stay Hydrated
If you’re dehydrated and exercising, you’re likely to get headaches or feel dizzy, which is a problem when you’re doing a pole climb or inversion. Drinking plenty of water is crucial to keep you safe during your class and your cardiovascular system running well.
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine advises 2.7 to 3.7 liters of water per day. If you’re not a big fan of plain water, try mixing in some coconut water or flavored drops to help get the ounces down. It’s a better solution than drinking soda or sugary hydration beverages. You can also aim to eat hydrating foods:
- Cantaloupe, Honeydew, and Watermelon
- Peaches and Pineapple
- Oranges and Grapefruit
- Strawberries and Tomatoes
- Cucumber and Zucchini
- Kale, Cabbage or Iceberg and Romaine Lettuce
- Carrots, Celery, and Bell Peppers
- Broccoli and Cauliflower
- Skim Milk, Plain Yogurt, and Cottage Cheese
3. Freeze Everything
Fill your water bottle halfway, tip it on its side, and freeze it for a couple of hours before class. A refreshing drink helps you stay cool during your routine. While putting your bottle in the freezer, rinse a washcloth or small towel with water, squeeze out the excess, and toss it in the freezer in a plastic bag or Ziploc. Take it with you to class for a leak-free cooling pad. Between moves, rub it on the parts of your body that regulate temperature: your palms, wrists, neck, and feet.
While you’re at it, toss your pole sling shorts in the freezer. They are perfect for cooling off without being too uncomfortable. Just don’t forget to set a timer, so they’re not too frozen to wear. Unless you are in a sweltering climate or very brave, don’t throw your sports bra in with the rest of your pole workout clothes.
4. Wash Your Hands Before Class
This will remove excess sweat, natural oils, or lotions you may have forgotten you applied. You can also run cool water over your wrists and splash it on your face and neck before starting your routine. This will help cool you from the get-go.
5. Use a Fan or Dry Your Sweat
If you’re practicing at home or privately in a studio, have a good fan pointed at your pole. It will keep your body cool and help dry up any sweat. Crank up the air conditioning for your practice if you can control that. Always have wicking towels near to wipe off the extra sweat between moves.
6. Try Out Different Pole Dancing Hand Grips in Class
If your grip is suffering, there are products to help. Dew Point is great for dry to normal skin. If you are prone to oily skin, chalk may be a better option to help control the sweat. You can also apply antiperspirant everywhere you’re prone to sweating, not just your armpits. Most should provide 24-hour coverage. Use it the night before so it soaks in and works for class.
7. Don’t Forget the Vodka
Unfortunately, it’s not to drink. That leads to dehydration. Depending on the cost, cheap vodka or rubbing alcohol are great ways to disinfect your pole. They help dry your skin for grip. Dab a little on a towel and wipe down your body, focusing on your stomach, upper body, knee pits, or wherever you need extra grip for your routine.
While summer can be tricky for parts of your pole practice, take advantage of the warm weather and work on your flexibility. Have you heard of warm or hot yoga? It’s so popular because warmed-up muscles become more elastic. You are more likely to get pulled or torn muscles from overstretching when cold. When the temperature is warmer, you can stretch easier to help prevent injuries.
The longer days, more time spent outside, and tanned skin are all advantages of summer. However, training on a pole can become challenging and hazardous if it impairs your hold. If you're perspiring softly, it could help you maintain your grip, but if you're melting like a popsicle, you'll unavoidably slide. Observe the following recommendations.
Most of us are highly motivated to attend classes and advance when we start a new activity. However, as we progress, we can begin to plateau, and the results we see may not match the effort we’re putting forth.
As we train harder, we might beat ourselves up over waning results and start to burn out. We might also become more prone to injuries, lose motivation, and give up on ourselves.
If you’re experiencing a pole dancing plateau, here are some tips to break through your training slump and stoke your motivation spark:
Make a Realistic Plan
Do you make to-do lists and add items so that you can check them off? Goal achievement is addictive, which is why we do things like that. If you are struggling to get motivated, set some goals for yourself. However, some plans can be too big and ambitious, so you will never start working on them.
Set goals that are specific and simple. They should be measurable and achievable or realistic for your skill level. Give yourself a time limit to achieve the goals as well. For example, you could challenge yourself to master a routine so you can enter a competition in three months.
Document Your Progress
First, establish your reason for dancing. Is it to fit into your clothes again? Build muscle? Or advance your dance skills? If it’s the latter, take videos of your practice sessions to see your progress. Get a video when you finally master the move and again when you can perform it gracefully or effortlessly.
If you’re dancing for fitness and to build muscle, take photos of your “before” look and then take weekly or monthly progress shots. It takes six to 12 weeks to start seeing results from a new exercise routine. You might begin to feel your clothes fitting differently before then. It’s hard to see how much you have progressed until you reflect on previous photos or videos.
Give Yourself Some Extrinsic Motivation
If you are in a slump, sign up for a special event like a workshop or dance tutorial to change your moves. Varying your routine will breathe new life into your standard practice and help you improve faster.
Another trick is to reward yourself. If your goal is to perform, buy high-waisted garter pole shorts for your show. If you’re trying to master a new style that’s sexier, get some pleaser pole shoes when graduating from your beginner classes. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. If you’ve set a goal to attend two classes a week, treat yourself to a new pair of sticky pole leggings you’ve had sitting in your cart.
Make Pole Friends
Even if you’re not the most outgoing, try to socialize with people in your class. You likely started around the same time, already have a common interest, and can keep each other motivated. You are less likely to skip a class if you know someone expects you to be there. If that’s not for you, join a pole dancing social media group. Surrounding yourself with people who understand and support your passion makes a huge difference.
If you like to perform, consider making your own account to showcase your skills and track your progress simultaneously. Whatever method you choose, your friends will share your excitement and encourage you to progress.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Break
Even if you love pole dancing, you can push yourself too hard and burn out. If your body is feeling worn down and you are unmotivated, it’s ok to take some time to recuperate. You will come back more refreshed and motivated than if you just power through those feelings. Remember that dance is supposed to be fun and a nice break for you. You will quickly burn out if it feels like work.
Go Back to the Basics
If you’ve struggled to learn more complex sequences or advanced moves, you can be pretty hard on yourself and get discouraged. Go back to your strengths. Practice a routine that makes you feel confident and is effortless for you. It will remind you how dancing can feel when you master the moves and how proud you feel when you do it for the first time. You’ll reattack your challenging moves with more determination and confidence.
Take Care of Yourself
Treating yourself to some self-care is essential to maintain your motivation. Ensure you are eating well, hydrating, and getting enough sleep. Beyond that, you should have time to relax, socialize, and work on other hobbies besides dance. Try to cross-train by taking another dance style or yoga class to stretch and work on your flexibility. Journaling or meditation can help clear your head if you are struggling mentally.
Find a balance between challenging yourself and not being too hard on yourself. No matter what, don’t give up. We all go through unmotivated or uninspired periods. Give yourself grace without letting laziness take over your life. Relax and have fun as you rediscover why you were drawn to pole dancing in the first place.