by Alison Mathes
Learning to pole dance is an odyssey, an adventure into unknown territory. When the warm-up begins, it is unknown what will be revealed during the next several minutes. A dancer begins a class or a practice with the intention of learning a new skill or seeing improvement in the ones already learned. It’s not guaranteed that anything will go as planned, but dance we must.
As a dance educator, my hope is to get my students to understand something new about their bodies at every class. I hope that my students get more familiar with the way their unique body moves. I want my students to feel how their skeleton, muscles, joints, and breath move in coordination to make dance movement. I want to see their movement flow seamlessly. I want to see clarity in the spaces in between the movement. This is where the dancing lies.
Anyone can execute dance moves. You can go to any dance school and learn tricks or moves. But how well are you taught to string them together? What about the spaces in between?
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. -Viktor E. Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist
Learning to dance with freedom takes enormous dedication. Dancers must always choose to cultivate the space in between; in between the movements, in between the music’s notes, in between the dancer and the audience. We cannot foresee how these spaces will unfold. It’s unknown how the space in between will feel or what will be communicated. We train in dance in order to fill the space with our best intentions. We might get lost or hurt in between the steps. We will probably feel a lot of joy and accomplishment along the way. Pole dancing is a journey and I can’t wait to see what will happen next.