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.