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Freestylin’ Your Choreo

One of the best ways to come up with choreography for a routine is to do a freestyle to a song that you are really jiving with. I think often times as dancers and performers we worry a lot about getting our routine perfect all of the time when we are performing it. But the beauty of a performance is that only you (and maybe a couple other people) truly know how it’s supposed to look. So here are some tips that have helped me over the years.

  1. Pick a song to perform to that you know all the words, beats, etc. to. This way if when you are performing something goes awry, you know what is coming next.
  2. Practice dancing differently to your song every time you rehearse. Use the same tricks you want to incorporate at the same time you want to incorporate them but come up with different ways to get into them and the sometimes awkward ‘dead space’ between them.
  3. Come up with different ways to move from the pole to the floor and the floor to the pole. This was also force you to think creatively about moving around on the floor (whether standing or otherwise) and using it almost as a separate ‘apparatus,’
  4. If you plan to wear a costume that can have any sort of complications, practice different ways of wearing it, taking it off, poling in it, etc. I once had a Velcro skirt that rehearsed fine but day of did not want to come apart and I had to yank it really hard. Preparing for any variables and unknowns (part of it snagging mid-performance on a not super sturdy wood floor for example) is always helpful.
  5. Feel comfortable in your own skin and get out of your own head/stop overthinking things. Pole newbies are often most guilty of this because they want to do everything perfectly – even the first time. As performers we also develop this mentality – what comes next, what if I forget, F up, etc.? Even though it’s a competition or a performance and you want to do your best, it should also be fun. Even if you can do a Jade split like a boss on one pole, doing it on a spinning pole may be another beast entirely. Don’t try to do too many complicated things if you don’t have too.
  6. Less is more. While I have been poling for about seven years now, there are somethings I can do in my sleep and others I struggle with. I used to try to put a lot of fancy moves into my routines to impress people but really the only person I should worry about impressing at the end of the day is myself. And same goes for you. Sure it’s good to add in something new every so often and you should work on improving with that new move. Unless you’re doing a competition where you really want to pull out all the stops to impress the judges – a simple but gracefully executed routine can be just as rewarding.
  7. Force yourself out of your comfort zone. One of the great things about improving is you can come up with a million different things. You can be funny, serious, dance different styles (ballet, jazz, hip hop, etc.) really whatever you desire. Just have fun dancing and bring out your personality. It may seem awkward at first, but after a while it’ll seem like second nature. If you’ve never danced other styles before – sign up for some non-pole dance classes (yes this may mean going to a non-pole studio!) but that’s okay! A great dancer is only as good as the things they know how to do.

Lily T.

Lily T.

Leigh 'Lily' Takata has been dancing and writing since she was a small child. Takata currently resides in the Atlanta area where she works as an actor/model/dancer/brand ambassador and filmmakaer. She has been pole dancing since 2011 and has performed and competed throughout the South. She has also appeared as a featured dancer in several music videos and TV shows. Takata earned her MAPW (Master of Arts in Professional Writing) in 2013 from Kennesaw State University. During her graduate program and since, her writing has been featured in textbooks, blogs, poetry journals and screenplays. For her most recent film, 3X, she wrote, directed, acted in, choreographed, and performed as a stripper. She is also an occasional contributor for the Bad Kitty blog.
Lily T.

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