Yesterday was my birthday and, as my birthday present to myself, I booked in for a Roller Pole workshop today. Since watching my amazing instructor/mentor/friend/Best-Pole-Divas-Studio-Owner-In-The-World-Kristy Lee win Elite Survivor 2017 with her amazing roller pole routine, I've been curious to try it out and see how it works.
Kristy Lee - Survivor Elite Champion Routine. Video: YouTube
Now, I had no doubt that I would not be doing any of the things Kristy does in this routine, because Kristy is much stronger than I am and has been poling for a long longer, but I was interested to see what the basics of roller pole were and how it worked. So I rolled up to the workshop this morning full of nervous anticipation, excited but expecting to be challenged by the content and hoping to have a good time over all.
But, for the first time ever at Pole Divas, I found I didn't enjoy the workshop and I actually would neither do it again NOR recommend it to anyone else. Now, before you think I'm just being sad and sore because I fell down (I didn't) or because I found it too hard (it was hard, but the challenge was not what put me off) let me explain what it was that really turned me off ever attempting or participating in roller pole again.
The lack of assistance or feedback from the instructor.
Today's workshop was run by a guest instructor, who is obviously very passionate about roller pole and wants to share it with the world, but it became very apparent shortly after the warm-up, once she had taught us how to do the spins on the skates, that she was either not interested in helping struggling students or wasn't sure how to engage with those of us who were having difficulty. Much of her time was spent with those students who had picked up the tricks in the first few rotations and wanted more challenging additions or combos.
Now, of course, a good instructor will spend time with the students who had doing well and give them extra challenges, but struggling students have just as much right to an instructor's time and energy. We've paid just as much, we want to be there just as much, we'd like to learn. Certainly, today, I would have liked to learn and would have liked some help to do so, but the instructor's focus was entirely on those students who could already do it and wanted more, and the few times she did come over to me, it was simply to skate by and say 'Good job!' before disappearing off to the higher level students again.
If I was doing a good job it certainly didn't feel like it and she didn't explain to me what I was doing well either. Perhaps it's simply because I'm used to Pole Divas instructors, who take the time to help each student - high achievers and those just starting out - but this style of teaching, of leaving beginners to their own devices, didn't suit me and I would be reluctant to attend any workshop on any subject, roller pole or otherwise, run by this instructor.
Others may not have felt this way about the workshop or the instructor and that's OK (we're all different), but I didn't enjoy myself over all at roller pole and felt ignored. I respect that it is hard, within an hour and a half, to spend the time you would like to with each student, but there comes a point where you have to let the higher level dancers do their own thing and give the beginners some time as well. Saying 'Good job!' without telling us what we're doing right doesn't give us anything to work with and so there's nowhere to go with that.
However, with that said, I did manage to get a few things right today, mostly spins, and it was interesting getting a taste of something new. I also don't believe that the instructor deliberately set out to ignore the beginners, but her style of teaching didn't sit well with me (perhaps because I'm used to Pole Divas instructors who are all so amazing and give their time equally). You can see a couple of my better spins on @barbelldancer, but I certainly mean it when I write #neveragain and #oncewasenough.
Roller pole is not for me, and today's instructor was definitely not someone whose teaching style was effective for me. I do sincerely hope that many of the others in the workshop today enjoyed themselves and had a great time and I hope that PADCS gained something from having this workshop today as well. It didn't work for me, but that doesn't mean I want it to have gone badly for others either.
On Saturday I took a Pole Acro and Handstands workshop for the first time. I'd always been curious about this mysterious element of pole and I've seen more than a few of my friends from Pole Divas engage in some awesome hand and elbow stands, so I decided I'd give it a go myself.
It was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life!
Acro is pretty much all core and (confession) my core ain't that strong at the moment. Because it is pole acro, all the holds are pole-assisted, and once I got up into my elbow stands (handstands were too scary for me) I was alright. Stag legs defeated me, but I did a really pretty fang and some lovely holds with pointed toes. Kristy also had us do some cool doubles tricks and practice forwards and backwards rolls.
All the doubles fun in acro yesterday! Photos: My own
As we were doing forwards and backwards rolls, I had a moment of wondering why the hell I'd decided to do this workshop, as two of my biggest fears are being upside down and going backwards... and but it's very nature, pole acro consists primarily of being upside down and going backwards!
But then I realised that the fact that I was in the acro workshop at all was a testament to my courage. I knew that acro would involve being upside down in strange positions - my forearms have bruises and my shoulders ache from my elbow stands - but I still chose to go. I knew that part of acro would be floor transitions such as rolls, which I have never liked, and I still chose to go. And I chose to try everything, even the terrifying handstands, which I couldn't hold without Kristy, so there are no photos.
And, the most important part, I had fun!
Even though it was scary, challenging, I have aches all over (cryo tomorrow, methinks) I really enjoyed myself. I couldn't kick up into an elbow stand on my own, so Kristy helped me to get up, but I got into all of these positions on my own once I was up there and managed to hold them. In fact, I quite liked the elbow stands and you will be seeing some in my upcoming routine for Pole Addiction. You will also be seeing the Fang again; I love this shape!
After watching so many amazing pole dancers, both at Divas and on Instagram, prance around in custom shoes from the fabulous Toes On Pointe, I decided to take the plunge and ask for a pair myself.
If you've been following this blog for a while, or you know me in person, it will come as no surprise to you that I asked for a pair of boots inspired by my favourite superhero of all time: The Winter Soldier.
I got lucky in that the wonderful lady who owns and operates Toes On Pointe is also a Marvel fan, so she knew exactly who I was talking about and was excited to make the shoes.
They arrived about two weeks ago and I've worn them to each of my pole classes since. I just love them! I got a friend who is good with poses for photos to take some pics of me wearing them today and I'm just so in love with my boots that I want to share them with you all.
Winter Soldier Boots by Toes On Pointe
These photos are my own and were taken by the fabulous Miss Teresa, who poles with me at Pole and Aerial Divas Caroline Springs. She is not only a great friend, but an inspiring woman and a dancer who I have looked up to since I started at PADCS (back when it was still PDCS!)
Well, that's the end of my boot appreciation post. I can see me wearing these beauties next time I do a photoshoot with Broken Ballerina Studio... unless I finally managed to grab a glitter spot, then my Elsa Shoes will make a grand reappearance.
If you're afraid to fall it means you're prepared to brave the heights from which you might fly.
Me With No Apologies.