Happy holidays, everyone.
Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.
My old love was a dancer; I recall his worn, green duffle
that sat by my bedside as we embraced like curled ferns
until sunlight streamed and the morning came; he shuffled
out the door and promised to return.
Each week, the green duffle came and went
and captivated me with dreams of ball gowns and beautiful sounds.
A trip to free lessons enticed and seemed a time well spent
But my body was not suited for the earth, I found.
Each step I fumbled and my feet seemed to wander.
Hope’s last breath was drawn at the dance that filled me with dread.
So I climbed, up, and up, and yonder,
and danced in the sky instead.
I used to write poems, but I stopped after high school, when I became absorbed in my science and pre-med studies. This poem is dedicated to someone I used to love and care about, he who once danced so beautifully, and one who I wished to dance with someday, but couldn’t because of my incompetence. He taught me that the body is also a form of self-expression, and that we should all try our best at anything, no matter what the dance. I could not find meaning and joy in ballroom, so I took it to new heights. Pole dance and aerial silks taught me a new meaning of freedom - to hang upside-down 30 feet in the air, to climb to new heights, and to master complicated aerial moves requires mental discipline and daring. Despite the differences in these two dance forms, reflected in the differences between us that eventually tore us apart, we nonetheless strive to perfect our own dance of life.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my Tumblr, but I think I’ll turn this into my regular blog. Anyway, a few posts ago, I introduced you guys to Influenster, which is a nifty website where you rack up points by taking surveys and writing product reviews, and the more active you are in the community (the more points you have), the better chance you have of getting a VoxBox!
A VoxBox is tailored to your interests and contains full-sized products for you to try. This time, I was lucky enough to get the College VoxBox, which contains the following products:
1) Impress Press-On Manicure
2) NYC New York Color Show Time Glitter Eyeliner Pencil
3) Necco Tropical Wafers
4) Pentel EnerGel-X Campaign
5) Energy Sheets
Description of the College VoxBox program:
"College ain’t easy. But even with class, extracurriculars, and a heavy social life, you find the time to test products, review the best, and share with your friends. You’re a true Influenster, so we want to make it a little easier for you. We’ve found the best products for the college crowd and shipped them right to your door. All that’s left is to test your products and share your results."
Frankly, I wasn’t too impressed by the line-up, because 1) I hated Necco wafers ever since I was a kid 2) I’m not a big fan of fancy-patterned nails 3) Gel pens are too goopy and leaky 4) Not too big a fan of NYC Color. The product I was most excited about were the Energy Sheets. As a workaholic pre-med, I need all the caffeine I can get to stay awake through long nights.
Looking at the ingredients, I see a heaping dose of all the Vitamin B’s and of course, caffeine. I think it has as much caffeine as a Midol complete, which is about one cup of coffee, but I have to check.
I haven’t tried this product yet, because I have to sleep early tonight, but I will get back to this later.
I was actually surprised about the Necco wafers. Necco came out with these new Tropical flavored wafers, which are a step up from the boring classic ones I hated when I was a kid. Even the packaging is a step up from the translucent-ish wrapper of the olden days. These actually taste good! I tried every flavor, and my sister and I agree that the coconut, strawberry, and passion fruit flavors were the best. In fact, I loved these new Necco wafers so much that I couldn’t stop eating them. Now I have a slight sugar rush and a bellyache…
Now for the pen - it works well! I usually don’t write with gel pens, because the ones I used to write with were leaky, smudgy, and goopy. This Pentel pen is the opposite, and it doesn’t smudge at all! Plus one for Pentel EnerGel X.
I’ll have to review the press-on manicure nails later, because I feel weird wearing funky nails to my conservative medical research job. My sister has used these fake nails before, and while the packaging is cute and the designs look fancy, the nails look generally tacky.
I’ll also review the eyeliner after I try them at my high school reunion this weekend. For now, sit tight and enjoy the caffeine and sugar rush.
Disclaimer: Each product was received complimentary for testing purposes from Influenster.
A lot of my students have asked me what I do when I’m not pole dancing. Besides designing for a living, I very actively try out different sports and disciplines in hopes that they’ll supplement my pole training. I think cross-training is a great way to “mix up the pot”, so to speak. You’ll be surprised at the reinforcement and unique translations that your chosen sport will give you.
I’ve compiled a list with my experiences for your curious minds, complete with video reference material. Enjoy!
Strength & Endurance Training
- Crossfit — This is the best way to get strong quickly. A typical cross fit workout only lasts 20-40 minutes, but you work really hard. You’ll notice results very soon.
- Rock Climbing — Gripping a pole will be a piece of cake after you’ve acclimated to holding on to tiny crevices with your fingertips.
- Parkour — Training twitch muscles, learning how to “kip” (how to jump midair, useful for Chinese pole moves). Most of the fun is just traversing through an environment. It’s very similar to freestyle dancing!
- Gymnastics — Perfects form, adds a dimensionality to your performances and lines. You’ll find that any ground to aerial transitions like handstands will be a lot easier.
- Yoga — Flexibility will take your dance to the next level. Yoga will also teach you how to breathe properly! This can lead to a more successful session on the pole as you will begin breathing through your movements and taking more time between transitions. Just check out Briohny Smyth’s yoga video for Equinox.
- Contortion — There’s a reason why a lot of pole dancers cross-train in contortion. You gain all of the critical flexibility for pole moves and learn to balance and breathe in uncomfortable positions. For examples, see Amy Guion’s performance with David Garcia.
- Hand Balancing — It’s a highly specialized circus art that takes a lot of strength and stamina. It’s also exactly what it sounds like. This will take your doubles/partner work or just your floor work in general to the next level. This video is a good idea of the type of shapes that can be achieved with a trusting partner.
Aerial Cross Training
- Hoop/Lyra — So you know all those bruises you got when you first started pole? You’re gonna get them all over again, and they’re gonna be worse. Hoop will give you more balance and body awareness, as the apparatus is smaller and more wobbly. A lot of the movements translate directly back to pole (the Meathook is one of them). It’ll also be familiar and easy to acclimate.
- Silks/Tissu — Your grip gets so strong doing silks (maybe even more than rock climbing!), and your shoulder muscles and flexibility will also be noticeably better.
- Chinese pole acrobatics — This highly specialized form of aerial arts is the closest and most daring of the apparatuses to train on. You’ll specialize in drops, unique holds, and death defying tricks.
- Burlesque — Burlesque develops stage presence and confidence, you’ll learn how to keep eye contact and surprise your audience. It also filters into sexy floor work and comes right back to pole!
- Modern, Lyrical, or Ballet — If you’re keen on clean movements like those seen on Phoenix Kazree or Michelle Stanek, try a class! This is where you learn about lines, toe pointing, fluidity, and extension. A lot of these classes feature across the floor movements that I’ve found extremely useful to use for when I freestyle “on-pole”.
I train in parkour and gymnastics and it’s been great bringing over all the agility from these sports back, it’s helped particularly with all the Chinese pole moves I’ve learned (fonji, reverse fonji, etc).
I encourage all pole dancers to go out there and try something different. When you bring it back to pole, you may find that your body will move in ways that look very distinct from all your peers. This is one step you can take to developing a unique style. Good luck and keep dancing!