I have been very lucky to have some great pole teachers over the last year both at Allure Dance Studio and the Secret Dance Studio. One of them, Candace, just competed in the Pacific Pole Championship. This is the premier west coast forum for pole dancing as an athletic sport. This was her first competition, and not only did she do well but she won gold. You can now watch her winning performance online. As teachers and dancers don’t get paid much she is now raising funds to go compete in the Nationals in New York.
What I enjoy about her classes is that there is always a focus on choreography and how to link together your moves smoothly and gracefully. Before she first studied as a pole dancer, she was already a classical and jazz dancer, which I think clearly shows in her performance. Candace was also the one who choreographed the chair routine for my first drag show at USC. You can catch her regular classes at both Secret Dance Studio locations though some of them seem to always sell out (particularly Thursdays for some reason).
When performing it helps that she is not just strong but unbelievable flexible. So in addition to her regular classes on the pole, I have started attending her flexibility class on Mondays. This class focuses on increasing range of motion in the back, shoulders, and legs. There are lots of leg lunges, bends, and not-quite splits. I think my favorite exercise is a shoulder stretch. My shoulders are still super tight (this is not helped by pole dancing as that just bulk up your shoulders further). I need all the flexibility I can get to fold back into a pole twist (such as in the Ballerina pose) or reach those awkward zippers on the backs of dresses. For this stretch, you start in a forward fold, then reach your hands back behind your back and grab the pole above your head. If you are really good then you try and pull your but forward away from the pole. I always like having something physical to reach for instead of randomly flailing my hands behind my back. If you don’t have a pole, you can probably do a similar stretch in a door frame at home.