Looking back on 2011

January 1, 2012 at 3:02 am 1 comment

I saw a post on Studio Veena today that got me thinking about all of the things that I’ve accomplished this year.  Although I just wrote a progress update for the month of December, I thought I’d also take a look at everything I’ve learned since I started pole just over a year ago.

I started pole last September, but the majority of my progress occurred between January and the present.  When I first started, I attended a 10-week beginner choreography class that got me hooked on pole.  It wasn’t long into the session before I bought a pole so I could practice at home, and because of this I was able to learn several things on my own in addition to what we learned for the routine in class.  I ended up performing that routine for a studio video shoot, and that was the first time I danced in front of a group of people.  It was several months before I tried inverting.  I bought a pole mat right before the holidays last year, so that was the first time I felt comfortable learning to invert on my own.  Unfortunately, I was not able to bring the pole home during Christmas break – I don’t even think I told my parents about my new-found obsession until then, and I didn’t want to push my luck.  Thankfully they were supportive once I was able to dig up the most amazing videos I could find on YouTube showcasing the strength, beauty, and art of pole.

In January, I attempted my first cross knee release which I was able to execute at the top of the pole without a mat by February.  For a while, this was the move I was proudest to have learned, especially because I did so on my own – we didn’t get to any inverts during class when I was in that level.  A few other moves I was really proud to learn were the roxy spin, the forearm stand and the spinning back hook to figurehead.

By March, I got the cross ankle release and the gemini.  The cross ankle release was really scary for me to learn compared to the cross knee release, so I didn’t become comfortable with it for a while.  I also got my first shoulder mount (using the Veena grip), but it was pretty ugly and I could only do it once or twice after that.

In April, I hosted my first pole event: I volunteered to teach members of my boyfriend’s co-ed honor fraternity some basic beginner moves and how to string them together.  I was extremely nervous beforehand because I wasn’t sure what the group dynamic would be like.  It ended up being a lot of fun, and I got a lot of positive feedback when it was all over.

By May, I was able to do a solid aysha using a forearm grip (with my body against the pole).  I also learned the rubber pencil, which I was supremely proud of.  I also did my first (terrible) crescent, which has drastically improved since then.  Oh, and this was the first month in which I started regularly posting photos of the moves I was learning to Facebook.

In June, I started The Pole Place blog.  I’ve never been much of a blogger, but I created this site because I needed a space to share my thoughts with others on the same journey.  Pole has definitely been a journey for me, and it is nice to have a place to discuss relevant issues, share progress, and yes, sometimes even vent a little.  Goodness knows my boyfriend hears enough about pole as it is, with the amount I think and talk about it all the time.  I’m pretty much obsessed.

I created and filmed my first pole routine in July.  By that time I had mastered the butterfly (another benchmark move for me) well enough to work it into a routine.  That first routine was to “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers.  This was also the month in which I learned the yogini, the superman, and some of my first doubles moves.  I tried them out with a girl I had befriended in pole class.  That month, she came over to my apartment for the first time to practice, and after that we started practicing together outside of class a little more regularly.

By August, I was able to do the shoulder mount a little more consistently (using a cupped grip), but I still couldn’t get my hips up high enough, and it was still pretty ugly.  I did, however, solidify a controlled shoulder dismount.  Over the summer, my studio set up a pole in the outdoor downtown mall as part of an open art fair of sorts, and they invited instructors and students of the studio to come play on the pole and do demonstrations.  This was the first time I danced in front of a crowd of people I didn’t know.

In September, I got the cocoon for the first time.  With all of the forearm stand practice I’d been doing, my back had started becoming noticeably more flexible.  On September 1, I finally got my toes to touch the floor on the other side of the pole in the forearm stand.  On September 22, I had my first pole recital in which I performed the move among several of my favorites mentioned above.  The song was “Satellite Heart” by Anya Marina, and it was a big step up from my first routine in July.

In October, I got my first dove, caterpillar climb, and jade (among others).  I also finally became able to lift into the forearm stand without kicking up, and I started working more seriously on my back flexibility.  This was the month that my friend from class and I started practicing together on a weekly basis.  It was October in which I also tried aerial silks for the first time.

In November, I got my first real knee hold after trying it off and on for months, and it was a huge achievement for me.

In December, I got my first brass monkey and eros, and I finally have a flat crescent and a solid elbow grip aysha.  This month, I also had my first lyra class.  And I’ve been working on routines for two upcoming shows: one will be held by my studio in February, for which I will be performing in a pole quartet (this will be the first time I’ll be performing doubles moves in a routine), and the other is a showcase (this will be my first show not held by the studio).

Wow, that’s a lot of firsts!  All in all, if I had to pick the top five moves I learned this year based on how excited and proud I was to master them at the time, I would have to say (in no particular order):

  1. The cross knee release: because it was my first invert (“Holy sh*t, I’m upside-down!”).
  2. The gemini: because it was my first leg hang.
  3. The butterfly: because it was difficult for me to get the hang of without slipping, and because it required being relatively far away from the pole (upside-down!) compared to other moves I had learned.
  4. The rubber pencil: because this move relied so heavily on hand grip, which I had struggled with, and because I had been so impressed by this move the first time I saw it.
  5. The knee hold: because I had been wanting to get it for so long, and it was one of the most painful to attempt.

General pole goals for 2011:

  • Stretch more and work on flexibility.
  • Continue to search for more opportunities to perform.
  • Record more routine and freestyle videos.
  • Try out new forms of aerial dance (there very well may be a full session of lyra and silks in my future!).
  • Do a pole photo shoot (I have one planned in a couple days with my friend who happens to be an amateur photographer).
  • Plus a few others that are still in the works…(don’t want to jinx them!).

One thing I know for certain after looking back on 2011: pole has made me very happy.  Not much else has given me quite a rush and feeling of accomplishment this past year like pole has – not even the things that, at the beginning of the year, I thought were important to me.  I think that my biggest goal to add to the others above is to find a way to work pole dancing into my life more, because nothing is more important than personal happiness.  Cheers!


Entry filed under: Goals, Thoughts. Tags: , , , , , , .

December update You never know until you try

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Chwenny  |  January 4, 2012 at 4:14 am

    ‘nothing is more important than personal happiness” Amen to that, sister! 😉


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