Let’s be honest. Dance studios, especially aerial & pole studios, can be very scary places. This is especially true for new dancers, or at least was for me.
You come to take your first class and enter an alternate universe in which everyone seems to have superhuman abilities. There are people who have been dancing since they could walk, gymnasts, handbalancers and people who generally seem to have mastered and defied, the physics of gravity.
At the beginning of my pole journey, there were lots of moments of self-doubt. These moments continue to surface, but less often and with less vigor. This is naturally a result of my continued training, but also something else. I took one ‘Finding Your Freestyle’ class with Tracee Kafer, and was hooked immediately. Finding Your Freestyle is a class consisting of “assignments designed to enhance body awareness and emotional and physical expression, define and redefine your movement style, and evolve the way you approach and interact with your apparatus.” Now, I attend class religiously, and try to incorporate exercises from it into my private training. Freestyle was even an essential part of my performance at the Body & Pole showcase this past weekend.
Freestyle has opened a new door to my movement, and to myself. I don’t need a perfect pointe or to have been a classically trained ballet child prodigy to freestyle. Moving freely allows me to be me. Freestyle is a tool that affirms that my raw, sometimes grimy, imperfect, and honest, movement. Consequently, this continues to affirm that my story, from which this movement stems, is valid.
I am a freestyler. It came natural for me. We all have our strong suits and niches, this happens to be one of mine. Even if you wouldn’t call yourself a freestyler, I encourage all dancers to experiment with it once in a while. It can help to bring new energy into familiar movement. It also helps to break free of old sequencing, and learn new and surprising movement you didn’t even know your body was capable of. If you’re used to pole, try hoop, if you’re used to hoop, experiment with floor work. Push yourself.
More than anything, the principles of freestyling do not become obsolete once walking out of the studio. Freestyle is a theory, a practice, a way of being. When you freestyle, you commit yourself to this process, and give yourself permission to make changes along the way. This type of flexibility is what we all strive for. To harness the ability to bend, allow change to happen without being resistant, and revel in the journey of it all. Life happens and what do you do when someone misses their cue in the choreography you’ve constructed? The dance doesn’t just stop. Sometimes, you gotta freestyle. I hope you’ve had your practice.
Moving In the Spirit,