One thing I see a lot of people struggling with is varying styles. There were auditions recently for Bittersweet Studios’ performance group, and one thing was very clear: selling a performance in a particular style is hard. Some girls had fantastic routines with great tricks and flow, but the little things – their hands, facial expressions, head movements – were nonexistent. I know it’s hard, really hard, to think about the little things when you’re flipping through the air, but it’s the little things that make watching a performer exciting. Think about a dancer performing a lyra piece to some flirty burlesque music. She executes each move perfectly, has incredible flexibility and smooth flow, pointed toes, extensions, all of the technical aspects. It’s lovely to watch. But then she performs the same piece again, but this time it’s different: as the lyra spins, she whips her head around in order to keep eye contact with you, a sexy smirk on her face. Her fingers beckon you instead of holding a dancer’s shape, her toes flex into a point, suggesting an intimate stretch after having just taken off a pair of heels. In a simple sit, her head is thrown back, chest out, fingers splayed instead of clenched onto the steel. How much more exciting would that routine be?
Music is so incredibly important when it comes to style: I know some people who put together trick sequences and almost full routines before choosing their music, but there is no way I could do that. I think you have to have the music before you can even decide what tricks you’re doing: my mermaid routine from National Aerial Pole Art had lots of moves with my legs together, so that limited by choice of tricks (which is a good thing! Sometimes no parameters leaves you overwhelmed with choices). Some tricks are a pose (dragontail), and some are an action (fonji). Depending on your routine and your music, some tricks are going to work better than others.
With music and style in mind, I put together a very crappily edited music mix with songs from various genres. I came up with a short combination of simple moves that could be easily learned by all levels so instead of focusing on the moves, we could focus on changing the style to fit the music. Each song had a different tempo and emotion to it, so even the same moves could look completely different. I really enjoyed this class and want to revisit this idea again, though perhaps with 2 or 3 different songs and a longer combination that could be explored more. During the class we also freestyled to Skinny Love by Birdy focusing on making circles with our movements. I think everyone got sick of me saying the word “circles”! We also danced to Chandelier by Sia and worked on the concept of up: chest up, head up, hands up, feet up, upward focused movement without necessarily going up the pole. I LOVED those freestyles, even though it was totally awkward and unnatural for me to move in those ways.
What are your thoughts on style and making your movements match the music?