Somehow it’s been an entire year since I started this blog! Back then, I had just started taking pole dance lessons armed with a freshly printed Groupon. I never imagined that 100 posts later, I would have come so far or had so much fun. Yet just as I’ve worked out my regular practice schedule with 2 or 3 classes per week, everything is suddenly changing again. Last week, Allure Pole Dance Studio closed their Slauson Avenue studio in Ladera Heights to focus on their location further north on Pico Boulevard. Meanwhile, Secret Pole Dance studio is also moving their Hawthorne studio to a new larger space. By the end of this month all my classes will be in new locations. I haven’t posted any pole blog entries in a while, so this post is going to cover all my final classes at the Slauson studio over the last two weeks.
A large part of what kept the Slauson studio going for as long as it did was the hard work of my teacher Orlee. She was taught most of my classes from the first Intro level classes through Beginner to Intermediate as I learned all kinds of spins, inversions, and climbs. The pinnacle was going to be a large dance recital last weekend. Four of us: me, Orlee, Kate, and Anna, were planning a large group dance routine. For over a month we had extra rehearsals twice a week to slowly choreography out all the moves. Orlee we was kind enough to teach us on her own free time after hours. Usually Anna provided the grace (she is studying dance at UCLA) and Kate provided a sense of improvisation. I wasn’t quite as experienced as everyone else but thundered through with brute force strength. Even if I couldn’t do the moves to being with, they were all very patient. Then just as everything was coming together, the entire recital was postponed and replaced with a much smaller farewell party. Around the same time, Orlee overextended one the tendons in her knee forcing her to scale back her lessons. In a way the delay is good as it gives Orlee time to heal, and hopefully the recital will return and we will get to show off all our work later this year.
Instead, I returned two weeks ago to Orlee’s Tuesday Intermediate Pole Class. There were many familiar faces, including Anna and Kate, back together for a last hoorah. We started by working on our spinning climb. It is like your basic crucifix climb, but you try and keep rotating around the pole as you move up. It is tricky because every time I grip with my knees to push up it kills most of my rotational momentum. Supposedly the key is to go fast, grab and quickly reach up and around the pole to pull up. I think I could get it with a little more practice.
Next up was the Allegra pose: an inverted splits where you grip the pole against your inner thigh. There are two versions of this pose in the Pole Dance Dictionary where they reach back to grab their lower extended leg (HERE and HERE). We worked on a slightly different variant where we would release both hands from the pole. First, your inner arm comes down off the pole and presses on your butt. Your elbow will then naturally press against the pole behind your back. The outer arm can then reach across to grab the extended leg to pull it closer in to the pole. It is a lot of pressure on your inner thigh (OUCH). I was able to briefly hold the pose but only with Orlee spotting me below.
Finally there was Aysha, an inverted balancing pose. You start in a regular invert, grip the pole with one hand and hook the inside of your other elbow then slowly release your legs. The pole dance dictionary lists this move as extreme! This is because the guy goes straight into the inverted balance and hangs way out from the pole. It is definitely easier if you do a caterpillar climb first in order raise your hips up closer to your feet then grip and SLOWLY release the knees first, then feet. You can also start by extending your legs into a pike fold that keeps your center of balance closer to the pole. Either way you need a good grip with your elbow. I tried applying all kinds of sticky tack to my elbow and still couldn’t quite get it. There is a good tutorial on this other pole dancing blog: Arial Amy
At the end we all celebrated except it wasn’t really Orlee’s last class. There was one last Tuesday left. The very last class was a lot more intimate with only two students (including me) I was afraid it would be canceled but instead we got almost a private lesson where I get to work on my favorite moves. One of my favorite spins is the body spiral where you kick out in front of the pole on one hand then grab with the other hand, and push off into another spin. It’s fun because its big and you can transition it into a chair spin or firefly or a reverse hook or almost anything. However I tend to rely too much on my strength resulting in big, and slightly out of control spins. Orlee had us really work on our control on the front side kick, making sure we look out and point our extended foot.
The second trick was our inside leg hang. For this move you start with a invert but you really want hook your inner leg round the pole as close to the knee as you can get. This allows you to let go with both hands, holding on with just your leg and torso. I have been working on this for a while with Candice at the Secret Pole Dance studio but never had been able to let go completely. On this day, I nailed it and Orlee even got a picture.
I rarely get good pictures of me on the pole. Either there are too many people in the class, or I lack the grace or flexible to really hold the pose. This is why I post so many links to Pole Dance Dictionary where they can show the correct form. Yet here it is: my first hands-free inside leg hang!
Finally I grabbed a picture of Orlee locking up the studio for the last time. The feeling right now is very bittersweet, but we went out on a high note. Orlee will be moving to the Pico location on Sundays, and bringing back her her fantastic Inversions class right as well as a new Spinning pole class. That could easily become my new back-to-back routine for weekends.