Do you ever listen to a song and feel like you could plan out an entire choreography, imagining all the gorgeous, flowing lines that would match the rhythm of the song?
We all do. It’s human nature to create, and dance is a beautiful medium to have at our fingertips.
When you get to the pole, however, it can be discouraging to feel (or look) clunky and clumsy when you give the song a try.
How do those gorgeous pole stars on Instagram fly around the pole, looking like they weigh as light as a feather?
Especially as a beginner, or as someone who is just starting to dive into the world of transitions and routines, flow can be a nerve-wracking word.
In this article, we’ll learn the essentials to achieving a natural, fluid grace in your pole dance routines. Before you start avoiding choreography altogether, give this article a shot. Practice flowing with these tips in mind for one month. We promise you’ll start to find your own unique flow.
- What is Flow in Dance?
- How Can I Become a Better Dancer?
- How Can I Improve My Dancing Skills?
What is Flow in Dance?
Flow in dance is how smoothly you transition from one movement to another throughout your routine. This word is often interchanged with a variety of other words; some of the more common ones are elegance, grace, or fluidity.
For the sake of simplicity, we are going to call it flow.
Especially if you don’t have a dance background prior to pole dancing, flow can be a hard concept to grasp. Fortunately, however, there are several tips that can help you find your flow.
How Can I Become a Better Dancer?
Becoming a better dancer doesn’t start or end with the pole. The pole is simply an extension of your body and how it moves; this is part of what makes us feel so clunky when we start stringing moves together and working with transitions.
That also means that, while you can work on your flow and become a better dancer on the pole, it’s also important to learn how to dance off the pole.
If you aren’t comfortable with dancing away from the pole, then you’re going to notice the effects in your routines; your floorwork is going to suffer and you’ll begin using the pole as a crutch.
At that point, you aren’t comfortable with using your flow, but rather, using the flow of the pole.
We don’t want that.
We want the best chance at success – something that goes beyond “I’ll just repeat it until I get it.” If you just repeat your routine, sure, your transitions will look cleaner and you’ll start to build muscle memory for your choreography and slowly, the start-and-stop momentum will begin to smooth out, and soon you’ll be able to do it without thinking about the routine…
Practice cannot be replaced, but that doesn’t solve the underlying problem of flow. Even a well-practiced routine can look clunky, and if you miss a trick or skip a part, it can throw your entire performance off. As soon as you venture outside of a well-practiced choreography, flow becomes even more critical.
We want to achieve a natural flow on or off the pole so we can always count on having graceful movements that swoop smoothly from one motion to another. A natural flow that you are in control of, not the pole.
How Can I Improve My Dancing Skills?
Below, we’ve compiled a list of tips for getting more familiar with your body’s flow and improving your dancing skills.
If you ever feel lost or something isn’t working out, always trust your body. You can listen to hours of advice on pole flow, but no one knows your body like you do.
Trust that you can do this, and when in doubt, try something new.
You can flow like an ethereal angel if you wanted to; the journey is in how you get there.
1. Relax and Get into Your Zone
You may have a routine you are working on – or, you may not. If you’re focused on practicing flow, you will want to start without a choreography and let yourself relax.
If you’re always thinking about what the next move should be, then you’re not relying on your body’s natural flow. The routine won’t have the personality it needs, and you won’t feel like you made much progress. Choreography can come after your start feeling more comfortable with your body’s movements.
Relax. Get into your zone.
Close your eyes, put on some music that makes you feel badass or inspired and, when it feels right, start moving. This is important – don’t stop moving. You don’t have to do any impressive tricks here; your goal is to learn how you like to move.
For bonus points, record yourself and to it all with your eyes closed.
This is an exercise, a chance to challenge yourself, and a way to get more familiar with how your body moves. It will take you a few tries until you get more comfortable with the idea and you start to see progress.
Every couple of songs, change the genre. If you were listening to pop, try an instrumental song. If you were listening to rock, try something soft and ethereal.
If you don’t branch out to different styles of music, you might miss out on an unlikely genre that you love dancing to!
2. It’s All Smooth Movements from Point A to Z
When you’re dancing to a choreographed routine, you might look at the individual tricks or movements as a way to memorize the routine, especially if you’re learning at a fast pace.
When you’re focusing on flow, however, it’s important to push that from your mind. You’re not practicing the individual tricks anymore, you’re practicing the movements in-between the tricks.
How long can you continue a slow, elongated movement from one trick to another? No, not a transition, either. The movements in-between those too.
You shouldn’t be able to tell when a movement ends or begins. Everything should be seamless.
3. Take Your Time, Slow Down Your Movements
Stop thinking about the fastest way to get into the next move.
I know you have x seconds to go from Jamilla to Brass Monkey to Titanic, but if you’re rushing through your choreography just to get through everything, that’s a sure sign you need fewer tricks in your routine.
This is a struggle we’ve seen too many pole dancers go through, especially if they are training for their first stage performance.
Your routine should be full of natural momentum whether you prefer slow, sensual routines, or fast-paced, energetic routines.
Extend your limbs and let your body mindfully glide through each movement, whether it’s climbing up the pole, or getting into a trick.
Every. Single. Movement.
If you think a shape is boring, play with it. Add shapes, extend limbs, wave your legs, flip your hair – you get the idea. You should always keep some momentum going and avoid complete (unintentional) pauses.
4. Let the Music Determine Your Tempo
If you let the music determine your tempo, then you’re less likely to get stuck in the trap of mental recordkeeping. If you’re trying to focus on your tempo, tricks, the next steps in your choreo, AND your fluidity, you’re going to have a hard time.
It works for some people, but for most, it’s just too much to focus on at once. Let the music guide your tempo and you’ll have one less thing to keep track of.
Don’t let your routine fall into the start-stop trap, where you’re pausing only for tricks and rushing through transitions. If you want to hold your tricks, you can, but slow down how quickly you get in and out of them.
The slower you move, the easier time you’ll have getting the hang of moving with fluidity.
If you enjoy fast-paced routines, great! Start with a slow pace and, when you learn how to control your movements better, move into faster and faster pacing.
5. Keep Your Balance
It may sound surprising, but your balance affects your flow. By improving your balance, your body will get more familiar with moving in new ways, elongating limbs, and stretching out past the normal limits of the typical walking and sitting posture.
Graceful pole dancing isn’t just a pretty toe point and a wavy hand. Graceful, elegant dancing requires you to be able to control your body’s movements no matter your position.
Practice keeping your balance by walking around on your toes, purchasing a balance board, or extending your body in new ways while you dance.
6. Point Your Toes
We know, we know. Your instructor already yells at you to point your toes… But we’re serious.
Pointing your toes will help your flow. For any dancer, flat feet can make an otherwise-graceful routine look clumsy and heavy.
Of course, in certain styles, flat feet are a feature of the dance. That’s fine. That’s a purposeful style, not a habit.
If you practice new pole moves on your toes and always stay up on the top of your toes for your choreography, then you’ll find your body flows more gracefully as a result.
Yes, even with heels!
An easy way to remember to point your toes is to set an alarm on your phone or put it on your to-do list for the day. Walk around your house or workplace as long as possible while pointing your toes.
If you don’t know how to do this properly, we have a guide on how to point your toes.
7. Exaggerate Your Movements
Are you doing a Jade split? Extend those legs as far as they’ll go!
Doing a basic climb? Lengthen your body out, away from the pole, each time you come up.
Without thinking about it, we tend to stick close to the pole. By lengthening your body and exaggerating your movements, whether that’s a free leg or an arched back, you’ll find that your movements slow down. Each movement looks purposeful, not rushed, and your audience can see each movement even from a distance.
8. Be Ready to Improvise
You can learn choreography and get to know it like the back of your hand, but when you get on stage to perform, no matter the setting, anything can happen. Maybe you get called on stage earlier (or later) than you should be, or the audience doesn’t react the way you thought they would.
No matter what happens on stage, if you can count on your flow to keep you moving without dropping your energy, you can take a moment to regain your senses and get back on track.
Likewise, if you make a mistake, don’t fret.
If you pause and look distraught when something goes wrong, even for a second, the audience will realize that. The immersion of your routine has been broken, and it can be hard (but not impossible) to recover.
Everyone knows the wide-eyed flicker of “Oops!” that can cross a performer’s face when something doesn’t go how they planned. Maybe they lost their balance, or they missed a trick and have to improvise to get to where they need to be.
It’s important to make mistakes look intentional. How you do that is up to the style and pacing of your routine, as well as the story of your routine, but most importantly: practice making mistakes without grimacing!
You may know the truth, but the chances of the audience noticing become slimmer because they won’t see the mistake in your facial expression.
Have these tips helped you? Show us your Before and After flow!