Miss Glory Pearl Master-Class at Emily's Pole Fitness in Swindon, UK.
The recent influx of gymnasts into the pole dancing world has led to the development of a form of this great art dominated by eye-popping feats of superhuman flexibility and strength. Students are perpetually chasing the latest extreme trick as their heroes continue to push the boundaries on the foundation of a lifetime of gymnastic training. As the UK’s foremost pole dance competition compere, I see the best of the best at close quarters, I see every extraordinary muscle flex and stretch, the determination and culmination of hours of training.
What fascinated me at Miss Pole Dance last October was that the winner, who also won the hearts of the audience, did not perform the most physically demanding routine of the night, nor were her tricks the most jaw-dropping, but what set her apart was her performance skills. Lorna Thomas put her heart and soul into a routine, performed to live music provided by her fiancé, and most crucially, she expressed that with every cell of her being for every second she was on stage. Put simply, her performance said something, and that something resonated through the theatre and won her the competition.
For me, performance skills or the lack of them, are what’s missing from a lot of competitive pole dance these days, and the further along the ‘sport path’ we tread, the less importance seems to be placed on them. This is a real shame; for the viewer, a performer who expresses and connects is always a pleasure to watch and delivers routines that are more than the sum of their parts, more than the tricks, spins, floorwork, strength and flexibility that are in danger of making pole dance as rigid and prescribed as competitive gymnastics.
With this in mind I developed a workshop teaching basic performance skills to pole dancers, using my many years of performance experience, and my training as an actor, dancer, performance and circus artist. As an actor, I had noticed over the years that I approached the pole very differently to a lot of my contemporaries, using it to tell stories and make people laugh. The expressive nature of dance has been slowly squeezed out of competitive pole dance and with this workshop, I wanted to equip students with the tools to say something meaningful with their choreography, costume and props, to present an alternative to a series of difficult tricks accompanied by music and a pretty costume. I’ve run it a few times now and am convinced of the value of the work. Students have all reported that it markedly changed the way they thought about putting routines together and school owners have reported that the impact of the workshop was highly visible at school showcases. I keep the cost of the workshops as low as possible, to make them accessible to all, and I offer a range of options, from a couple of hours through to a whole day, depending on how deeply the group wants to go into the work. The next workshop is at Emily’s Pole Fitness in Swindon on Saturday 15th March and I’m delighted to be there!
If pole is about more than tricks to you, if you fancy exploring a whole different way of approaching a pole dance routine, drop me a line; I’d love to bring ‘Delivering Memorable Performances’ to your school!
For booking enquiries, simply e-mail Glory.
Images courtesy of Sin Bozkurt and John Fox Photography.