Professional Level Pole Moves

Veena
Jan 27, 2013
 

  If you follow our discussion topics on Studioveena you may have heard me refer to certain moves as “professional” level moves or maybe I should use the term Elite level. Today I’ll clarify what I mean by professional level. 

  First, I’ll start off by saying that pole dance is for everyone, and anyone can learn the fundamentals of pole and enjoy the benefits of pole dance. Even the most basic pole move can increase strength, boost self-esteem, and look beautifully impressive! 

  Here’s what I’ve seen happen. Those who started pole dancing 7-4 years ago have probably watched acquaintances, friends and fellow pole dancers enter competitions and become “pole stars”. This is great, we need people to represent what pole is!However, is it possible that confusion as to what is amateur appropriate has set in? Could it stem from the amazing moves being developed by those entering pole dance from the contortion and gymnastics world? We’ve jumped from girl next door, to contortionist, almost over night! We’ve forgotten to think about where class appropriate work ends and professional level work starts! We need to remember, that many signature moves are signature partially because that professional dancer’s body had the ability to create the move. Not every pole move is right for every body. I’ll say it again, not every pole move is right for every body!

  As instructors, we need provide our amateur students with a clearer definition of appropriate, non-professional, studio and home pole work. Anyone who competes or performs at a professional level in a sport knows there will be injury, you will push, and push your limits some more. This is NOT what studio or home pole dancers should strive for! Pole dance can be fun, and obtainable, improving your physical and mental health. Pole dance should not riddle you with injury and cause feelings of inferiority! 

  Below is a very short list of the more popular advanced moves that I have labeled PROFESSIONAL level moves. This is not to say that ONLY professionals can or should acquire these skills, but rather offer the student and instructor an understanding of what moves may require YEARS of training and should not be rushed! They have been labeled “Pro” due to the level of risk, level of flexibility and strength necessary. 

  With that in mind when a new pole move pops up or a student asks “Can you teach us this?” Use the questions below to help you decide if a pole move is Pro level.

Does the move require a release and catch of the pole?

Does the move require contortion level flexibility?

Does the move require limbs threading/passing through other limbs possibly tangling and making a safe exit tricky?

Does the move place the body’s joints in a compromising, beyond neutral position?

Does the positioning against the pole potentially place ribs at risk?

Does the move require superior strength? 

Examples are:

Twisted grip lifts

Yogini

Rocketman

Chopsticks

Closed/Contortion Scorpios and Gemini's

Downward Splits aka Oona splits

Phoenix

Rainbow Marchenko

Drops

Shoulder mount flip

Fonji

Spatchcock

Marion Amber 

Flag invert

Batwing 

Jade and Allegra could possibly be placed in Pro as well. 

 Again, I’ll clarify, I’m not suggesting these moves are for professionals only. However, I’m urging instructors to take a look at their curriculum and insure that its appropriate for the class level. And students, before you become upset that you haven’t achieve an advanced or pro level move, remember the hours of training and sacrifice needed to get to that point.

Happy Poling,

Veena 

 

 

Lyme LyteWell said Veena! :)
Jan 27, 2013
Casey KillAwesome information veena!! Also, I can do a few of the above mentioned..POLE EGO BLOWN UP!!! :)
Jan 27, 2013
dustbunnyI agree Casey. With a couple of those solidly under my belt I feel a little better about my abilities now too. :)
Jan 27, 2013
megan12Veena, thank you for being the voice of reason. haha. I think it takes a certain type of personality to be a pole dancer, a tenacious and driven personality, perhaps. Because let's face it, pole dancing doesn't just come naturally. It takes a lot of hard work. We see others doing moves and we naturally, want to do them too. Sometimes I get frustrated at myself, that I can't do some of these moves so easily. But then I remind myself, I haven't been doing this a year yet. Some of these professionals have been working for 4,5,6 years. Obviously, you cannot achieve in 1 year what others have done in 6 years. I think one of my goals for 2013 will be to be proud of what I have accomplished and to be happy with the journey and not look towards the destination quite so much :)
Jan 27, 2013
VeenaI'm glad you guys have found it helpful! Sometimes we don't give our accomplishments enough credit!
Jan 27, 2013
SaphyreSo well said, Veena. I am glad for what I can do and try to be mindful of what I cannot, or shouldn't do. Now or in the future. I think it's good to know your limitations, which may or may not change with time. I just want to appreciate my own interpretation of this art, listen to my body, and work with the strengths I do have. My goal is not to be better than, or as good as anyone else. My goal is to stay in shape and to take care of my heart, bones, and other body parts as I continue to get older. Having a blast while doing so is a huge bonus! Your list is super helpful and I hope that everyone pays attention!
Jan 27, 2013
CreativityBySteffieJust what I needed to hear! "not every move is right for every body" - so true! Yesterday I had to say goodbye to a move for the first time in my journey. The CAR. I've worked on it since about 1½ ago. Ive tried tilting, squeezing, freaking tape on my inner thigh, but I cant get it, because I have too much space between my chicken-legs. So yesterday I decided that I dont need it. I love my CKR and thats enough. Maybe if I ever have a baby, or in other ways will get some shape to my figure, I can revisit it, but I dont need it anymore. :D
Jan 28, 2013
ShonaLancsWhoooooooop! Someone said it loud, thanks Veena! I recently turned a workshop down with a very professional poler for THIS EXACT REASON, I am not that advanced and would rather focus on progressing what I can do rather than worrying about what I can't and spending £50 for the privalage! I simply don't think I will benefit more from that workshop because she is pro / super advanced and I am not and I am happy with that decision!
Jan 28, 2013
sparrowThank you for this post! That looks like a pretty comprehensive list to me...does anyone have any moves to add to the pro level list? I can't think of any I'd add.
Jan 28, 2013
littlelindsayvery well said!! Not only are some of the moves dangerous, some of them just will never look pretty if you don't have the proper flexibility!
Jan 28, 2013
portableninjaThank you for this. I am intermediate level (based on V's lessons) and it is very easy to feel inadequate when people are talking about rainbow marchenkos and batwings, or if I'm at a workshop where the instructor pays the most attention to the advanced students and leaves people like me out in the cold (I hear you Shona). I'm not a gymnast or contortionist, I'm a regular person with no dance background who happened to find pole later in life and I love it. Staying within my limits is healthy and safe.
Jan 28, 2013
CharleyWell said Veena!!! I don't teach any of these moves in regular classes! That is my list of moves for competitive pole workshops/curriculum (and a few more :D) Thank you for writing this and clarifying :)

Here are a few others that I have on my current "ban" list from regular classes.

The Q
The Janeiro
Super Pain
Half Moon
Tumbles - due to the amount of TIME these take learning I've excluded from regular advanced classes

There are others but they are covered above. I do teach jade to those who are ready because it's a hip hold split and the Allegra to those who ready - but not often on either of those 2.

I do believe in offering Professional/Competitive level classes however I am a FIRM believer that the student should be well educated about the level of the moves taught, the frustration factor, the risk factor and if they are choosing to engage in an upper level class that they are doing it with eyes wide open. (Competitive level classes are only available to those who can do everything else and take atleast 2 classes/week.)

Not everyone is a competitor. There is nothing wrong with that. As I create my beginner level classes - students can spend a YEAR in classes and get new moves (variations) and choreography every week without repeating. There is so much at each level to explore.

I can't thank you enough for this post, Veena. As an instructor who deals with students seeing high levels of professional pole dance- it's frustrating to me when I have to explain - that's PRO level girls. Those are people who do pole for a living and practice for HOURS a day and cross train. I hate to rain on anyone's parade but even *I* am having INCREDIBLE difficulty reaching that level. There are not enough hours in the day - but there is still so much you can create and express with the moves you already have.

With my own inability to reach the level of pro, I've felt destroyed and inadequate, hurt and ashamed of myself. That's no way to live - I thought pole was empowering? Not taking anything away from pro's because they INSPIRE me but at the end of the day - I don't have the time, youth or natural body strength/flexibility to do some of those things. It shouldn't make me or anyone else less...yet sometimes we do that to ourselves.

Thank you <3
Jan 28, 2013
Elektra VallensA very interesting post. I'd like to make one small suggestion, if possible. It might be helpful to sort out the moves by how dangerous they are to learn and not how difficult they are to do, since the concern is what people are trying to learn alone at home or what an instructor might be putting in a level 3 or 4 course. For instance, drops were on the "pro" list. A sad girl drop is a drop, but it's easy to do and not very dangerous. Does it deserve to be called a professional move just because it's a drop? If it were done with a mat, it would be very hard to injure yourself. Ayeshas on the other hand, didn't make the cut, despite the fact that if you fall, it will be on your head, which is bad news even with a mat.

@ Sparrow - I can think of several more things that could go on this list. Shouldermount hops, handstand hops, meathook, tabletop, shouldermount plank, iguana extension, back ayesha, EG split, orion, starfish...

Jan 28, 2013
sparrow@Elektra-I was thinking that too...about classifying the drops. No wonder I couldn't think of any other moves...those aren't even on my radar. lol. Good list.
Jan 28, 2013
MelroseThank you for posting this!! So true that not every move is designed for every body. That seems to be a difficult concept for some ppl to grasp but it is so important to realize...
Jan 28, 2013
VeenaI think with the list of questions I provided instructors will be able to classify drops on their own. :) I figured it was a given that the sad girl drop isn't a big deal.
Jan 28, 2013
Black OrchidI think this is a great discussion topic if for no other reason than bringing perspective to a stressed-out student ( and I am one of them on many occasions). I am curious to se if this flows into a discussion of training ( in class and at home) for competition-level tricks...I understand that for USPDF and such that pro-polers turn out some insane things. What happens when you aim for a smaller competition and division and you STILL don't rate because everyone else has crazier tricks? Is that something to consider now?
Jan 28, 2013
DocKI feel grateful to read this - very sensible. I didn't start pole until I was 46 and it was more movement based and once/week. I loved it then, still do. However, I chose to go beyond and wanted to learn more advanced moves - but just as you say, the tricks went from those that I could reasonably expect to acquire to off the chart.

Although I am still interested in challenging myself to learn, I took a step back. One, I felt saturated with tricks and wanted to take those I had acquired and allow them to become part of my own "voice" in movement - I don't want to overthink when I am expressing in freestyle (I call this my "mastery" incentive). Two, some of the moves I realized I don't really care about because they either don't feel good in my body or I don't feel they have much in the way of musicality. Sure, there are those amazing dancers who can make ANY trick musical, but for most, it can become very disjointed with showing off this trick or that with no connection.

These are just the decisions I came to that work for me - each person has different goals and aspirations and I will watch and admire.
Jan 28, 2013
CharleyI think at a certain point it is up to the instructor to define moves as they feel fit. I know instructors who don't teach reverse grab because you move into red zone as you swing out - I know instructors who don't teach laybacks including CKR because of the danger factor.

I agree a sad girl drop is an advanced intermediate move. I think the point is that some of the moves require certain body types or certain high levels of flexibility to do and instead of beating ourselves up we should realize that these things require more than skill sometimes. :)

I love your list Elektra - I need to find my comp class list - all that stuff is on there and excluded from group classes.
Jan 28, 2013
sparrowTrue, Veena. It did made me think about drops and what ones I know of and how I'd classify them. I'm sure there are lots of threads here on drops!
Jan 28, 2013
VeenaI think it is a good thing to think about Black Orchid! There are now competitions geared towards Pros others towards the true amateur and pro. USPDF "amateur" isn't true amateur in my book. Their definition of amateur really just means you haven't placed and have yet to pass into the Pro status. This is why I used the term Professional level instead of competitor because we do have comps now that are not just for crazy advanced work. It's important for the student to do research and know what competition is right for them.
Jan 28, 2013
Black OrchidI wonder if there is a way to figure out the right questions to ask without insulting the organisers of the competitions. I'll speak for myself...I will only compete in Masters from now on but some of the very amazing ladies ( like Greta) have set the bar high in terms of tricks. I felt really bad for a while after watching my fellow competitors in a recent competition when I saw the tricks they were doing. It made me feel like I shouldn't have bothered to enter...I feel confident about myself as a performer but what good am I if an Ayesha starts to look like the most basic trick to throw out in a Division like Masters? I wonder how to feel out the organisers about whether the judges really do have some minimum expectations of advanced/pro tricks, no matter what it says on paper.
Jan 28, 2013
FuzzyNavelThank you for writing this! I really want to get back into dancing, but I don't want the pressure of learning moves that scare me or hurt me just so I can feel like a "real" pole dancer. I think there needs to be much more support of amateur dancers. Thank you Veena! xx
Jan 28, 2013
VeenaI'd love to see you back on the pole Fuzzy! The 30 days are waiting for ya :D
Jan 28, 2013
keexperfectly summarized, Veena! progressive & systematic training; just like any other form of dance, gymnastic or athletic training. why should pole dancing be any different?
Jan 28, 2013
reenie aka MysfitExtreme Ballerina/Eagle too....
Jan 28, 2013
Kobajo84Thank you SO much for writing this! You hit on a lot of what we talked about. The questions you provided will serve many as a useful tool when assessing their curriculum. I think it's so important we focus on safety and techniques to educate each other and incorporate more safety strategies as instructors and students.
Jan 28, 2013
SaschaPolesBeautifully said Veena!!!! This blog right here is why SV is the best!!!!!
Jan 28, 2013
SaschaPolesBeautifully said Veena!!!! This blog right here is why SV is the best!!!!!
Jan 28, 2013
Aluna Pole Fitness StudioI too agree to a certain extent to what you have said! A lot of girls are watching you tube and wanting to jump right into moves that can take months to learn!

As a certified personal trainer and a certified pole fitness instructor, I find this is imparitive that safety strength and proper technique is mandatory in any form of excercise, including pole!

The only thing i would disagree on is that I would never discourage any of my students to NOT strive towards competing and or performing. As you mentioned above ( copied from what you originally said here ) " Anyone who competes or performs at a professional level in a sport knows there will be injury, you will push, and push your limits some more. This is NOT what studio or home pole dancers should strive for! Pole dance can be fun, and obtainable, improving your physical and mental health )"
I do teach most of these moves above as my students want to learn and are capable of learning these! I have a very small studio so I am able to teach one on one with proper spotting and my classes are much smaller then a lot of traditional pole studios!

So it depends on what your personal goals are and what you want to accomplish from doing pole, you can still enjoy pole and have fun while learning to compete and or perform :)
Angela
Jan 29, 2013
MissHoneyriderThank you V!:)
Jan 29, 2013
PinkkupcakezThank you. It makes me feel a LOT better since I could not get the TG if my life depends on it!
Jan 29, 2013
FawniaWell said Veena.
Jan 29, 2013
MariYabeI can't agree more. The problem is there are so many more resources out there than ever before. Pole has so much more exposure and with featured "tricks." Beginners truly believe they should be able to invert within minutes of their first class. I don't teach inverts in my beginner class (spins, climbs, walks and poses is plenty) but just about every teacher and studio does in my area. Most every teacher is self taught, myself included. Like I said though, I don't teach inverts to girls who've come in for the first time on a group-on deal. Sorry.

Plus you've got young gymnasts, dancers who have filtered into pole studios who pick up things very fast with abandonment and no fear what so ever. Let's face it, the pros make it look so impressive, dynamic and effortless, who isn't inspired? Twisted grip took me a long time to get, now beginners are learning it within weeks, because they're allowed to. And they do it wrong and look like hell. So frustrating.
Jan 29, 2013
PowerTwirlthanks for posting! may not be pro but twisted ballerina on a short non flexible back does not work!! and I'm not even touching that bow and arrow or crescent moon trick.
Jan 29, 2013
PowerTwirlthanks for posting! may not be pro but twisted ballerina on a short non flexible back does not work!! and I'm not even touching that bow and arrow or crescent moon trick.
Jan 29, 2013
VeenaThank you all so much! And thank you to those who have sharing this on FB. xoxo
Jan 29, 2013
jayjay125A----MEN !!!!!!!
Feb 1, 2013
Twilight StarrThis is a FANTASTIC post Veena. Some students are obsessed with what they see these pros do. It's so easy to get 'caught up' in the excitement of the pro moves that when we attempt them and can't execute we feel like less of a dancer/teacher/person. I'd be devastated if I was injured and not able to do pole at all because I attempted (and failed) some of these moves that are just beyond my body. I've felt some of the same "inadequate, hurt and ashamed of myself" that Charley mentions above.

People get so mesmerized by the "wow" of some of those insane moves that they forget the 'how'(technique and grace) and also the 'why' - why they started pole in the first place. (I agree with littlelindsay). Maybe the future of pole will be a more dynamic one. Just like there are many kinds of dance, perhaps there will be many kinds of pole. I would hate if we lost the beauty of the dance in the rush for mainstream acceptance of pole as a sport. For me, personally, one of the things that lured me to the pole in the first place was the 'taboo' aspect of it. Of course it's blossomed and grown since then.

Don't get me wrong - I am amazed by the extreme tricks (Iwish I could do them, but as of yet can't do any of them and the reality is that I likely never will) - but I do love to watch them being well executed. For me, these moves are exciting, but some of my favorite routines to watch are those that touch an emotional cord with that delicate balance of beauty and strength. Hopefully competitions (organizers and judges) will ensure tricks are just one aspect of this fantastic sport/art form.

Veena, maybe this is a new movement! Maybe just like Alethea did the 'bring sexy back' for pole (which is a beautiful part of pole too), maybe we need something like a 'bring the joy back' with videos that don't include those extreme moves to show that poling is just as wonderful without them.
Feb 1, 2013
sparrowFor those new to the pole world now, as opposed to a few short years ago, these Pro level tricks are probably what they're seeing. While stunning for sure, those of us with any pole experience, especially if we have pretty much no other dance or gymnastics background, know how dang hard that will be. So there's probably a big wake-up call there.
When I started pole, the Scorpio was the most gorgeous and advanced move I could imagine. And I could achieve it!
And i agree totally @Twilight....my fave dances are those that touch me emotionally. Fancy Pro tricks....or not. Bar none.
Feb 2, 2013
BrumbyAmazing post, I want to share this with all of my instructors. I feel there is a greivous lack of respect in my studio for the fact that every student moves at their own pace. The art of pole should not be about difficult tricks.
Feb 5, 2013
AliciaPolerinaThis is wonderful! I have students all the time that want to learn these kind of moves and have to explain this to them! I think I will print this and post it at the studio and add some moves to the list too that all stay out of regular classes! The only time I have had a hard time enforcing this kind of policy is when students see a move, come to class and are like "Hey Alicia I saw this move and want to know what it's called..." and then boom just launch themselves into it before I can tell them not too! I'm a huge stickler for safety first!!!! :)
Feb 7, 2013
MellyMelodyGreat information. ..some of those moves I have learned on my own at home. And I only been poling for 6 months...EGO DROP THERE....LOL Where I live the nearest pole studios are 3-6 hrs away. So I have no choice but to teach myself.
Feb 7, 2013
Scarlett Honey aka Lola GraceHmmm interesting. I think it is important to remember the distinction between professional/elite level pole moves and the rest of them..... to keep everything in perspective will help us from getting despondent and feeling low by comparing ourselves unreasonably with others from a gymnastics/elite level background. Thanks veena. I still want to achieve those elite moves though ;)
Jan 1, 2014
ntrujilloc41719Very good blog! Soo soo true! We all want all the moves it's hard and frustrating when our bodies don't always cooperate. I have short arms and the superman and Marion Amber I struggle with - in fAct the Marion Amber I have sorta given up on. I just feel reaching back with small hands and short arms makes it more difficult to get. Superman can do but struggle a times. I love how u mention that gymnasts and contortionists can do things easier and realistically to do thing they can do HA - YA not gonna happen. :-)
Apr 8, 2014
chillag
Hi, I´ve just seen this website and it seems great, your explanations are fantastic and clearly structured! Thanks :)
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