Article by Mel Nutter as Baudelaire
Every pole dancer wants it. Effortless movements, powered by grace and strength. Limbs that land with commitment and certainty, but also with the ability to take off again with the lightness of air.
First let's take a look at what it means by 'flow':
Define: Flow :
- to circulate
- to proceed continuously and smoothly
- proceed or be produced continuously and effortlessly
- hang loosely in an easy and graceful manner
- movement in or as if in a stream
Before we go further into flow, let's review a statement from the flow queen herself, Marlo Fisken:
"Yet, here I am asking you to fall again and again with your head to the side, all in the name of flow".
Playing with one of her flow sequences, I found it ironic that for such movement I had to learn to trust my heart more than my head. I had to trust my body, find momentum and move with it. Despite feeling off balance with my head to the side, and sometimes out of control.
Working on a static pole, you need to create momentum with your own body and ride the edge of remaining stable and being in complete free fall. If you spin too fast and are not prepared for the flow, you will crash. If you spin to slow, or are too resistant to the momentum, you won't make it all the way around and the flow stops.
Creating flow on spin has its own challenges. One way to address a choppy transition is to hold poses for a little longer, giving scope for a smoother transition from one shape to another. Sliding your leg down slowly and working into a new shape, or threading your arm through a space to find a new grip, may allow your body to unravel and create a unique transition into another combo. Seamless transitions can also happen by simply grabbing the pole under your leg instead of above, allowing your body to sink down through an outside leg hang or into a new split.
It is a bad habit to think about tricks in isolation. If you are working on choreography and routines you need to find a way to make your tricks flow in a sequence. What happens at the end of a move or before another one? Inverted pole tricks take a lot of preparation and it is common to see dancers check in with their grip and pause, taking a deep breath to prepare for going upside-down. Moments like this interrupt your flow. Not that you should rush into a move, but perhaps there is a way that you could prepare without being frozen in time. When you are polishing your choreography think about the moments where this could happen.
After a spinning sequence, what happens if you keep your arm moving in the direction of your spin? What if you land on one knee instead of both, can you then push off again through a lunge? These moments may allow you to catch your breath and prepare for what comes next without stopping the flow. Remember to think about what is happening in the music at these times too, as this could affect the quality of the movement.
I highly recommend filming yourself, or at least dancing in front of a mirror, so you can become more aware of your body in space. This is especially important when considering how your poses look to an audience. Studying these shapes can also help you see where you could make variations. Especially up the pole, you need to ensure that extra movements don't release contact points that are keeping you upside-down safely. By watching recordings of your practice you are more likely to see a connection between one move and another, and notice where an arm or leg could grip differently, or make for an easy flow into a new pose.
Remember, that innovation also takes practice. You might have a connection in your head about two moves, but accomplishing the transition may take longer than one or two attempts. If you are creating a routine for a competition, unique transitions can help you score highly but only if they done well. Try breaking down the transition into smaller parts and then bring them all back together. Building body awareness takes time, but persistence pays off making the moves look as natural and effortless as possible.
Finding flow and learning how to move with grace and momentum takes practice. Marlo Fisken refers to her lifelong "study of movement". The process of reflecting on your own transitions and flow will offer insight into the foundations of how your body moves to make shapes, remain stable, extend, and contract. This process may also reveal your own individual style as a dancer, further helping you stand out from the crowd.
"Finding flow and learning how to move with grace and momentum takes practice."
Written by Mel Nutter as Baudelaire.
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