Just when you have lost all hope. Physically, your body has cramped up into a ball of soreness and bruises. Mentally, your brain is sooo over it. Then on an unassuming random day something magically happens. As if the pole goddess from above has reached down with her invisible hand, lifted you up, and gracefully placed you in to the pole move you’ve been struggling to get.
What you have just experienced is a pole breakthrough. Of course, its not really magic. But that awestruck feeling of finally (after weeks, months or years) nailing a move feels as if it were.
My most recent pole breakthrough came last week when I finally defeated my nemesis move – the Janiero. I had learned this move last year. I couldn’t get it at all. The first time I actually had my back pushed around the pole my sides screamed “HOLY HELL” – it felt as if my rib cage was being twisted. I left that move in the dark corner of my pole playroom to be “revisited” (aka abandoned) until my instructor wanted to place it into my competition routine.
“Hmm…okay.” I thought. With enough practice I should be able to get it. I understood what needed to be done in the janiero and I thought I had the basic skills covered for a move like this – a mixture of strength, back flexibility and balance.
“How hard could it be??”
Damn. It was hard. The “simple act” of getting my butt around the pole and having my back eventually rest against the pole was like trying to figure out quantum mechanics. It’s one of those moves where if you don’t set up for it properly you won’t get into it. For months I kept trying, working along side my instructors to figure out my missing link, relentlessly watching YouTube tutorials, and scouring the galleries of Instagram.
“Your elbow is sliding up!”
“You need to really arch and push your legs back!”
“Your leg needs to rest on your elbow first!”
“Butt around the pole first!”
I knew what I needed to do… but for some reason my knowledge couldn’t translate into execution.
Last week (3 weeks before competition) I was about to give up on it. It was cutting close. I decided I will go with a backup move if I couldn’t get it by the end of the workshop. My amazing teacher instructed me to really let my leg fall on my elbow shelf. It was a technical comment I had heard over and over again but for some reason this time I just simply focused on getting the leg down rather than going around and down at the same time – which was making my landing on the elbow rather difficult. Suddenly all these minor pole movements and feelings that I never felt before were suddenly there. Letting my leg fall on the elbow first and allowing my upper body to lean down (rather than before I was struggling to keep it parallel to the floor). Really pushing my bottom arm to help maneuver my hips and butt around the pole. And then really pushing my legs back like doing a back bend. Feeling that “crunch” of my sides into the pole.
And it happened. It wasn’t smooth and there were grunts along the way but I was able to do it once without having a hand pushing me back. It was a pole breakthrough! A fucking pole miracle.
I went back to class the following week eager to test it out again and hoping it wasn’t a one hit wonder. A few stumbles at first, but I was able to get into it again and again. Sometimes you just need to feel what is wrong before you can tell what is right.
That day my teacher said “Technique is everything!”. And having that technique click with the body and mind is when a pole breakthrough happens. Since everybody and body is different, the clicking just may take longer than you expect – and that’s okay, it’s just another part of the amazing pole journey.
Pole dance is a difficult hobby to maintain. We won’t always be at the top of our game. We can’t always think of new ways to transition into familiar tricks. We don’t always feel strong or sexy or bendy. Sometimes we hit a wall. And when that happens, it’s frustrating.