Celebrating our 4th annual recital titled “Director's C4t” at Pole Dolls Dance Studio was one of my most memorable experiences since starting pole dancing classes, because one, it was my first time to direct a recital performance for a group of students, and two, it was also the first time a group has to perform around a spinning pole, and here is the exciting part...with wings!
Our theme for our pole spin number is the classic 90’s drama City of Angels. What we had in mind here is that our students are going to have to perform spinning pole with gigantic-fallen-angel kind of wings and not with those little cupid ones. I don't think anyone has ever tried this before on a spinning pole, at least in Manila, and resources in the internet of pole dancing with wings are pretty scarce.
I pondered about the limitations of wearing wings while on the spinning pole. Firstly, any kind of twisting poses around the pole such as the ballerina or inside leg hang is impossible, as the wings are going to hinder these movements, so I knew that most of the tricks involved are almost always facing or positioned away from the pole such as genies or top hand viva's. Secondly, the wings slows you down a lot in spinning pole if you did not take off with enough momentum, and struggling around the pole would almost make you stop spinning.
The success of the performance will depend a lot on the students; they would need to build their strength in a lot of areas, mostly on their hand grip, elbow grips and leg and knee grips since their back and sides should always be facing away from the pole, and upper body strength and core to keep from struggling during transitions. Since our workshops are only on weekends, on the first day of workshops, I had them working on conditioning exercises to take up at home during the weekdays.
My students were a mix of fairly new, returning, and longtime students. It was a challenge for me-- I want to give some new and challenging techniques for longtime students, but easy enough for the returning students to catch on. The newer students have to keep pushing to do their conditioning for them to be able to catch up to the returning "recitalists" (how we define students who only show up during recitals for years, you know who you are 😊) since I tried to veer away from the usual tricks. I didn’t give them easy transitions since I really want them to work for it.
What happened then was eventually all the students caught on to the series, and I mean ALL. I was
pretty thankful I have a group of hardworking students. It's so inspiring to see them growing stronger and taking their pole dance fitness to the next level; some of them even messaged me their workout videos or their sweaty exhausted faces at home. Taking up pole dancing classes is hard enough, but performing to a full 3-minute and half song while pole dancing, with wings, is downright insane.
Getting their work in to be able to perform to a full song is no simple feat.
With regards to their costumes, one of our teachers Kat helped me find a nice supplier and the cost is,
thankfully, not that bad for a pair of wings that's almost 1.3 meter in length and around 0.75 meter width for each wing. We had to adjust how we should strap the wings to each student while doing their run, in the end we opted for using strips of fabric to tie the wings to their back, since they will be taking them off sometime during the floor choreography.
Dividing the song by how long per section would take, I made the beginner students' and the
intermediate students' parts as equal as possible so that all of the students would have equal runtime on stage. However, the choreography was also another challenge for me. When one does not have a dance background (no, actually I only recently started taking exotic pole dancing technically serving as my “dance background”, which doesn’t match for this piece), it's so easy to doubt if the movement and expression I taught these students, if it looked good enough to convey the song’s emotion to the
audience. There were a lot of times I was staring into space at work during daytime trying to imagine how the piece would look like. The floor choreography took me more time to build on than their actual pole series and it's pretty funny looking back now.
On the day of the recital I was pretty nervous for the number if my students are going to pull it off and
look good on stage. There were a lot of things running through my mind-honing in all of the little details, their mistakes during the blocking and technical run, their costumes and timing and their “chicken feet”.
Finally it hit me when the lights were on and music started and the audience were watching their
performance, that I had forgotten to zoom out and look at the big picture they made-- that they were
magnificent and strong and beautiful in their fallen angel wings and performing with their hearts on stage. So what if there was a costume malfunction? They made it all work, and they did their series and choreo so splendidly I swear I was weeping by the end of it.
At the end of the show and even days after, people who watched were messaging me about how the
piece had affected them. Of course, we have sir Rocky to thank for setting the mood of the piece at the beginning with the timely edits of the movie and our home momma Teacher Nina for conceptualizing the whole recital in the first place, a recital that would be talked about in the days and years to come. And most of all, my beautiful and talented students/fallen angels—N