Letting you know that I’m still out here!

I am — indeed — still alive.  I’m also still dancing, but not like I was back in July.  My nutrition consulting business continues, and remains fairly busy.  On top of that, I found another job that brings me so much joy.  Between work and my business, I’m not going to lie: I’m busier than I’ve ever been in my life.

But I’m also happier than I’ve ever been.  While this isn’t completely Pole-related, it’s important to note that I used to work a job that sucked everything out of me.  It took my time, my emotional strength, my joy, and my life away each day. I’m realizing that I was mostly motivated to start my own business so that I could run far, far away from my last job.  Now I know that what I really wanted was to work in a place and in a way where I could make a difference, feel joy, and be treated as a human being on a daily basis.

Once I can get some semblance of a schedule back in order, and once I can finagle a way to work Pole classes back into my budget, I plan on bringing more dance back into my life.  Now that I go to a place that I love to earn a living, it’s time to bring what I love into my down time, as well.

I am so happy you’ve all stayed with me on this journey.  I hope to have many more stories to tell in the future.

The growing pains of increasing your Pole time

Ouch.  My hands are covered in more callouses than ever.  My legs are bruised up and down.  I sprained my hamstring last week, so I can’t quite straighten my left leg.  My shoulders are bruised at the bone from all the front and back rollovers I’ve been doing.  I hurt all over!

But I’m happy.

I love bringing more Pole into my life.  Between my home practice and a bit more time at Vertical Fusion, I’ve been dancing for multiple hours a week.  I was strong before, but now I’m really seeing my muscles go gangbusters.  In fact, as I was peeling off my sweaty workout clothes for a shower last week, my shirt got caught on my shoulder muscles!  That’s a thrilling feeling; no longer quite fitting into your loose, comfortable gym clothes.

I cannot express enough my joy at finally being able to make my own schedule.  I might be working my you-know-what off everyday, all day, but I’m doing what I want to be doing, and it’s so tremendously rewarding.

In so many ways, I have Pole (and Pole people) to thank.  Without Pole, I don’t know if I would have ever had the confidence to quit my job and start my own nutrition consulting business.  Without the challenge of teaching dance classes, I would struggle more to get my name out there and in the open.  And without the tremendous support of my dear friends in the Pole community, I don’t think I would have believed in myself.

This is just the beginning; there are yet so many more things I have to discover about myself.

Sky_Candy-47

2015 and its possibilities

I find it interesting to see how even though my overall life priorities change, Pole always remains a constant.  I might not always take as many classes as I want, or achieve as many tricks as I desire, but Pole and the community are always there for me.

My Fit 4 Pole classes have become suddenly very popular, much to my surprise and excitement!  In the “old days”, I was pretty psyched to get 2 or 3 people.  More often than not, I ended up running through my program all alone (because, you know, I’d already showed up to the studio; might as well get in a workout, right?)  Last Saturday I had seven participants, and today I had six!

What never ceases to amaze me is that people come back.  I say that with a touch of sarcasm, but also with great seriousness.  Fit 4 Pole is a workout.  It is hard.  You sweat, you groan, and you’re sore the next day.  But it works.  Fit 4 Pole participants notice faster gains in their pole strength, as well as fewer injuries overall.  Better tricks without getting hurt?  Why hasn’t this been big sooner?!  Whatever the reason, I am thankful for all of the brave ladies who are starting to show up for Fit 4 Pole.  I’ve been teaching this class in one iteration or another for more than three years now, not because it’s popular and not because it’s glamorous, but because it is important.  And to see these ladies coming and starting to reap the benefits?  I am beside myself with glee.  What a way to start my new year.

In addition to Fit 4 Pole suddenly being the “it” class, I am still teaching Art of Sensual Movement.  I will be doing burlesque focused classes because Vertical Fusion will be doing a burlesque show at the Dickens in Longmont on February 7th!  Two shows, in fact; this will be our first double-header, with a 4:00 and an 8:00 show.  Being the masochist that I am, I will be doing two routines.  I’m feeling pretty good about them so far, though, so no reason to panic (yet).

I see other big things happening this year, some pole-related, some simply life-related.  I will do my best to keep you in the loop.

Sometimes life interferes with dance

VF Halloween 2014 Hello Boys

I have NOT been on the pole nearly as often as I want to be lately.  I am teaching my fitness classes and switching off Art of Sensual Movement with Mel every other week at our Boulder location, but for the most part, that’s it right now.

I blame October.  It’s been a devastatingly busy month for us.  Every weekend has been packed full; granted, mostly it’s been fun things, but I have been losing sleep pretty consistently!  And most weeknights have several things going on.  It’s not just Pole that’s suffered, either.  I haven’t been able to keep up with my yoga practices.  And that sort of leads to a spiral of flexibility devastation, thereby lowering my drive to find time to pole.  The good new is this is the last booked weekend for a while, so maybe soon I will be able to parcel together some kind of a routine again!

Vertical Fusion had an October showcase in Boulder last week, though.  I elected to perform, but did an improvised dance.  I have found that as my dancing gets better, improv is my favorite way to perform.  Improvised routines also tend to be some of my best ones, which is kind of amusing.  I took full advantage of the Halloween theme and picked a creepy/sexy song by Puscifer (my favorite artist to dance to at this time of year).  I wore several different layers and my bright red Pleasers.  Most of the layers came off, exposing spiderweb pasties!  What fun.  I felt extremely satisfied with my routine.  I was also emceeing the show, and that led to some distraction; so much, that I forgot to hand off my phone to Chelsea to film me as we’d discussed before the show started!  BOO!  So, it felt awesome, but I’ll never get to see it.  Oh well…there were some great pictures captured by Desiree Galvez, at least.

VF Halloween 2014 Hero

Choreography forces you to try harder.

I feel like I’ve gained more strength in my shoulders in the last week than in the last year.  Thanks to Mel’s choreography to an Ellie Goulding song that we’ve been learning piece by piece on Wednesday nights, I’ve simultaneously stretched my external rotators and strengthened my deltoids to the point of ridiculousness.  They hurt…but in a really good way.

I mostly blame the spin that requires you to hold onto one foot and (ideally) straighten your leg into the air, fall forward, and wrap your inside leg into a modified Fireman spin.  It looks spectacular.  I tried it in my 6-inch red Pleasers, and found myself to be about an inch taller on my left side when I was done.  Then there are ALL the aerial inversions.  Mel’s asking for three in a row; I think she’s crazy.  But goodness knows I try to get them anyway.  Then there’s going into Extended Butterfly from a sit on the pole.  I think I’ll figure the mechanics out eventually…

The point is this: when there is choreography to learn and perfect, I don’t mind trying out all of these hard tricks as much.  Mel is really smart to appeal to the dancer in all of us.  Instead of breaking down new moves in a class setting, she shows us a beautiful dance she’s created.  Everyone wants to dance like that, and so we become ever more determined to learn the moves required to make it happen.  It’s pure genius.

I think I’ll start taking this method into Art of Sensual Movement.  Sometimes just choreographing a small piece and teaching it in a class is enough to engage students and get them not just excited to try new things, but eager enough to be willing to perfect them.

Elevated Art Desiree Remi Sit start

Dancing: a way to grow

I have learned a lot of things during my adult life.  I’ve learned (the hard way) that life isn’t always fair.  I’ve learned that the very best policy is honest, open-hearted communication (even if it’s not always easy).  I’ve learned that most people are not just good, but wonderful, and thankfully the less-than-good people don’t spoil the whole bunch.

I’ve also learned how very important it is to be an individual and to let my inner self be free.  Life is far simpler when I can be around people who know me well enough to understand that I’m a little bit different, and a lot bit silly.  I am happy that Pole and the pole community accept me for who I am, and love me no matter what faults might rise to the surface.  There are times when I understand the value of this life and the people in it so clearly that it brings tears to my eyes.

Thank you to all of you, for letting me be me.

Blog Selfie July 2014

End of Blackout

The beginning of my "Pulp Fiction" performance for Twisted Cinema.

The beginning of my “Pulp Fiction” performance for Twisted Cinema.

Apparently, I was on a self-imposed blackout.  It wasn’t on purpose; I guess I just didn’t much feel like writing.  Which is funny, because I’ve been steadily focused on pole since Elevated Art wrapped up.  I’ve been attending a lot of Mel’s classes and really expanding my repertoire of tricks and combos.  I am more proud of the progress I’ve made in the last three months than what I’ve made in the last year!  But it all kind of becomes a blur in between major events, so I suppose that’s my only excuse.

Most recently, we had our SEVENTH Dicken’s show on Saturday, May 31st.  The theme was “Twisted Cinema”.  Mel held auditions back in April; the expectation was to choose a movie on which to focus for the performance,  and to dance to a song (or songs) from the soundtrack, as well as take on aspects of the plot or characters.  I was thrilled to see what people did with this theme.  There were about 18 fabulous acts in all.  Some that stand out for me are from “Magic Mike”, during which Sara dressed as a male stripper, complete with stuffed booty shorts; “Top Gun”, with Lisa in a flight suit and aviators, doing Fab Pole to “Danger Zone”; “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”, during which Ariel and Dave performed tango, pole, and partner acrobatic moves; “The Little Mermaid”, with Nina on Lyra (what looks like a huge hula hoop suspended vertically from the ceiling); and “Flashdance”, during which Shay climbed a pole and dumped glitter all over Mel!  There were also routines from “The Great Gatsby”, “The Dark Knight”, “Kill Bill”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, “Resident Evil”, and many others.  What fun.

I chose to do mine with a “Pulp Fiction” theme.  On another note, two of my three favorite movies of all time were represented at this show!  “The Little Mermaid” and “Pulp Fiction”.  The only one missing was “The Wizard of Oz”.  I channeled Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman’s character), and Ron helped me edit two different songs together.  I am IN LOVE with how this routine turned out!  I kept a lot of the details from the crucial movie scene (Mia’s overdose) in my performance, and I just decided to have as much fun with it as possible.  I also put Extended Butterfly and Brass Monkey into a performance for the very first time.  Those two tricks combined with a couple of cool combos I’ve learned in Mel’s classes made for a sequence of moves that were mostly new to me.  Watch the performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJKH6k76ZcE&feature=youtu.be

Just as I'm getting into Extended Butterfly!

Just as I’m getting into Extended Butterfly!


It was great to get the rust out and try new things in a performance; I was starting to feel like my work was a bit stale, as I kept returning to the same moves.  Watching the video Ron took on my phone has also shown me that my dance flow has really improved.  I think I can chalk some of that up to teaching the Art of Sensual Movement every Wednesday!

I have been LOVING teaching AoSM as well.  I come up with a new theme each week, and my students and I have a lot of fun figuring out new moves, and re-inventing old moves to fit the themes.  Most popular by far was the Lap Dances class I held last week!  Ron and another fellow, Jon, came to class, along with 6 women!  It was definitely my biggest AoSM as of yet.  It was such a hit, that I’m holding a second one on July 9th.  We’ll build upon moves we already learned and hopefully string more together into complete lap dances.  Pretty sweet!

Elevated Art: Boom.

It’s been a little more than a week since the greatest pole show I’ve ever seen.  The honor and excitement of being able to participate still hasn’t completely worn off.  Just performing on the same stage as these incredibly hard-working and talented women has given me a high that I’ve never felt before (and likely will never be able to match)!  Please click this link to watch it for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-S_J3C_LO8k

Elevated Art Desiree Caterpillar on the floor

I rode down to the Oriental Theater with Mel (thank goodness) for the company, so Ron and Joe could come up later, and so I wouldn’t have to navigate directions and traffic in my already heightened state of anxiety.  It was comforting to ride with Mel, who has performed in even higher pressure situations (i.e.: the Colorado Pole Championship, in which she won the Masters title).  She seemed pretty relaxed, at least compared to me.

When we got there, my anxiety shot through the roof as I watched some of the other performers warm up.  They incorporated tricks into their warm-ups that I’ve never even tried.  At that point, the only thing keeping me away from the copious amounts of comforting gin and beer at the bar was the fact that being drunk would have seriously hampered my performance.  To distract myself from what was happening on the stage, I walked around talking to friends, patrons, and strangers.  Anything to distract me, really.  I met some awesome people, such as Leesi, THE fab pole artist in Colorado.  She and Mel are friends, so I basically inserted myself directly into their conversation, hoping my knowing Mel would cancel out the social awkwardness.  It seemed to: Leesi turned out to be one of the coolest people I’ve met so far through Pole!  I felt supported and buoyed in the short amount of time we conversed, and was reminded — yet again — of why I love the Pole community so much.

The obligatory "porn star" shot.

The obligatory “porn star” shot.

After the doors opened, I obsessively watched the audience members stroll through the inner doors to the theater; I knew I had a lot of friends and family coming, and I knew that talking to each of them would be helpful in way-laying the fear that had crept back in.  Corey was the first one through the door, and so was greeted with a strangulation-level hug as my adrenaline levels vastly increased my strength.  It helped greatly to chat with him while I waited for others (especially Ron) to arrive.  Once Ron made it, I was able to relax a little bit, and when the show started, I tried to really watch the performances (and not compare myself), in order to distract myself further.

There were two intermissions, and I was set to perform in the middle of the second set.  Once that first intermission came, panic moved aside, and a cold determination washed over me; it was time to get serious.  I went backstage, changed into my costume, and started to warm up.

Leesi opened up the second set, so I didn’t get to watch her, which was a bit disappointing, as her work with Fab Pole (fabric and pole) is really, really nifty.  I will definitely watch her video once it’s posted.  She rushed backstage and changed, hurriedly telling me that she wanted to get back out there so she could watch me!  Gulp.

Getting ready to fall into Remi Layback.

Getting ready to fall into Remi Layback.

When the emcee announced me, I suddenly became more focused than I think I’ve ever been in my life.  I walked onstage, crouched down, and waited for “The Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson to start.

My performance is both crystal clear, and a complete blur in my memory.  I’m so thankful I thought to ask someone to record it for me; I truly don’t know what my impression would have been otherwise.  All I know is it felt good.  There were a couple of moments that stand out.  During the first minute, a strap on my left shoe broke!  Luckily, the second strap was still solidly attached, so I was able to keep it on throughout the performance with a little bit of effort.  Second, I had a moment closely following the one from the picture above when I thought I was going to vomit onstage!  I had just performed a fast climb to flag to a drop into my Remi Layback, during which I ripped my shirt off and threw it across the stage.  After that, I turned my back to the audience and twerked for a 4-count.  As I was coming around the pole to prepare for my first inversion, I think all the adrenaline, fear, nerves, and crazy excitement over the last two months washed over me at once.  It was nearly too much for my body to handle.  I am so happy I’ve been onstage before, because I was able to (literally…gross) swallow it back, keep smiling, and continue dancing.  I felt better within seconds.

This is right after I ripped my shirt off and threw it away. Soon after, I nearly threw up. What a great moment, caught by Desiree!

This is right after I ripped my shirt off and threw it away. Soon after, I nearly threw up. What a great moment, caught by Desiree!

Vertical Fusion Fort Collins ladies filled the front row and they fueled me throughout my performance with hooting.  I know the rest of the audience yelled, but having them so close was wonderful, as I could feel their love and support carrying me from one move to the next.  I know I gave it all I had, because when I walked offstage to the sound of cheering, I had to collapse onto a chair for a moment to let my brain catch up with my body.  I’d finished.  I had finally completed the damn, nearly impossible piece that had been riding on my back for so long.  And I did it well; I performed something of which I could be proud.

Elevated Art Nina pole slide

Here’s the kicker.  I went backstage to change as quickly as possible (Mel was coming up soon!), and to pull myself together a little bit more.  Natasha Wang was sitting on a couch, looking at her computer.  I’m assuming she was watching the show streaming, because as I was changing, she looked up at me and said, “You did a really good job out there.  I can tell how much you enjoy being onstage.”  My knees went weak.  If I hadn’t been so happy with the last 10 minutes, I’m fairly certain I would have burst into tears.

Rawr.

Rawr.

As Elevated Art draws near, a dance unfolds

I am covered in bruises.  I am covered in scabs.  I am sore.  I am tired.  But I am so, so close.  I feel like Elevated Art is the biggest show of my life up to this point.  Big audience, big names onstage and in the crowd, big deal.

Ron has been working tirelessly on a big remodeling project for our house.  We now have an almost completely re-done living room with laminate floors, freshly painted walls and doors, and my brand new 45 mm pole right in the middle of it!  He surprised me by putting it up before I got home from teaching Art of Sensual Movement last week.  It’s been wonderful to rehearse at home; I like that I can imagine a move and then immediately test to see if it works.

But, back to EA.  I have been working on this routine so, so hard, but I feel like I’m hitting a wall.  Choreography has just not been coming together or falling smoothly into place like it normally does.  I thought that by now I’d just be polishing it all up, but I’m still revising and changing things.

I was rehearsing at the studio Monday night when Christine came in to prepare for her St. Patrick’s Day class.  Her cute green socks and headband put me in a cheerier mood than I’d been in previously.  As I worked the routine, I watched her run around the room, climb the poles, and attach little green bags full of chocolate coins to the ceiling tiles so that her students could earn a sweet treat for climbing to the top.

Here's the adorable Leprechaun right before her class.  She happens to be a genius.

Here’s the adorable Leprechaun right before her class. She happens to be a genius.  I stalked her on Facebook.

As I watched, I started to lighten up a little bit.  I didn’t hit all my tricks in my final run-through, but I did ask Christine’s opinion on a trick to replace.  She made some suggestions, and it sort of opened up my eyes to all of the blank spots in my choreography.  The rest of the puzzle fell into place, and before I knew it, I had the entire song choreographed.  Have I run it all the way through yet?  Naturally…no.  But I’m finally to the place where I feel it’s going to happen, that it’s realistic, and that it’s…gulp…good.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

So, thank you Christine.  I have always found choreography to be best as a solitary affair, but I’ve now realized that sometimes the opinion of a friend can make all the difference in the world.

A fun shot from "Simply Irresistible" and Nina Reed Photography

A fun shot from “Simply Irresistible” and Nina Reed Photography

Pressure.

I am very excited about Elevated Art.  Very excited.  I’m also honored to get to be a part of the show.  But I’m starting to feel like I don’t measure up.  This is an internal feeling; no one is telling me this, or saying it to me.  In fact, I have received so much encouragement from friends, family, and the Pole community, that if I could go onstage with their love and belief in me alone, I would do fine.

But there’s a perfectionist in me that isn’t always kind.  Sure, she motivates me to achieve things in my life and to go as far as I possibly can.  But she expects an awful lot in return.  When I watch film of myself dancing, I don’t always see the pretty floorwork, tricks, or transitions.  My entire performance is instead concentrated down to those moments during which not everything went as planned.  My inner thoughts and dialog wait for those imperfect moments.  And I’m always surprised when others don’t remember, see, or notice them.

That perfectionist inside is already psyching me out for my EA performance.  I don’t have everything nailed down yet for my piece; there are still some transitions that need tinkering, and — frankly — some downright “blank” spots where nothing I’ve tried seems to work.  I was panicking last week, but now I’m just scared.

If I could fast forward to immediately following my performance, I know it will be good.  I think I’ll be happy with it, and I’m sure others will tell me it was fun to watch.  This is the logical part of my brain at work.

That illogical perfectionist keeps looking at the other performers’ bios and the guest list on Facebook, and she keeps FREAKING THE FUCK OUT.  Here’s that internal dialogue as I scrolled through the guest list this morning:

“Shit.  Everyone from VF is coming.  Lots of pressure there.  Well, I can count on them for cheers, so that’s good.  Oh yeah…Natasha Wang is guest performing.  I really don’t want to flash any boob with Natasha Wang watching.  I’d better test my costume out some more.  Kerry Twirl Girl is coming.  If I could dance like anybody, it would be her….jesus, I don’t want her to watch me!  What if I bastardize her style?!?!  Oh crap…Holly Honey Miley is coming.  She’s a goddess.  Oh my god, I am going to SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

No matter what I'm doing or achieving on the Pole, lately this is how I picture myself.  All the time.

No matter what I’m doing or achieving on the Pole, lately this is how I picture myself. All the time.

So far, this perfectionist, negative thinking has not won out, so rest assured: this isn’t a whining, pittiful, feel sorry for me post.  But I’ve never been in a show like this.  I’ve never performed next to the likes of Natasha Wang.  It’s all very new, and it’s all very scary.  I have absolutely NO frame of reference as to what is “prepared enough”, so I’ll always feel under-prepared.

Does anyone out there have tips as to how I can snap out of it?  Not looking for compliments, here…I’m looking for ideas like the old favorite, “picture them all in their underwear”!  How do I get my confidence back?!