Elevated Art Preparation: screw the elliptical!

Here’s how I work out a piece: I usually hear a song that I’ve loved for a long time, and suddenly I’m like, “Oh, this would be fun to Pole to”.  Once in a long while I’ll hear a new song and be suddenly inspired, but not usually.

Then I put the song on my Shuffle and listen to it at the gym.  Preferably while on the treadmill, but lately (thanks to my still-injured left ankle), the horrendously dull elliptical.  I listen and wait for parts in the music that speak to me; I’ll identify a move that just makes sense.  Then I start to build those moments together.  Once I actually start dancing to the music, I can easily fill in any blank spots with transitional floor or dance work.

She’s faking her enjoyment.  The elliptical sucks.

And sometimes, I have to force it.  Time is usually what causes this; there’s never quite enough, and it’s really tough getting to the studio to rehearse some weeks.  Sometimes, I have to rely on the visual in my mind to carry my choreography.

I worked a little bit on the piece in the studio last weekend.  About 10 minutes in, I realized I was forcing it.  Then I realized I was trying to work backwards from my usual method; here I was, trying to dance it out and choreograph it that way, rather than visualizing it.  Clearly, this does not work for me.  I ended up working on back rollovers for 20 minutes and tweaking something in my left shoulder blade.  So lame.  But, rather than get discouraged, I jotted notes on what A) HAD been successful, and B) what I had in my mind already.

The next evening, Ron and I went to dinner with Mel and Joe; I lamented that I had the equivalent of “writer’s block” apparently reserved for choreography.  So, choreographer’s block, I guess; that one sounds a little lumpy in the mouth.  Mel sympathized and reassured me that it would come.  Then Joe reminded me I had “plenty of time”.  Apparently, he has a lot of faith in we Pole dancers; a month for a HUGE show is cutting it a little close for my taste.

And then on Thursday, while on the treadmill (because, yes; the ankle is feeling a little better!), I put on my song for the last mile and a half.  Repeat after repeat.  And the block dissolved; suddenly, I could see the movements.  I started getting good ideas for the little treats I like to put into my performances to surprise and excite the audience.  It all came together!

The moral of the story is this: if your best choreography ideas come while you’re on the treadmill, don’t hurt your ankle.  Because choreography does not work on an elliptical.

The treadmill might also be inherently boring….but it’s proved to be my best choreography tool!  Regular running works too, but I’m afraid of turning my ankle in a hole outside.

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