Friday, 23 May 2014

Pole Unity Please.

The pole dancing industry seems fraught with tensions at the moment and I find this so sad as we are meant to be promoting an industry that breeds self confidence and creates a supporting environment. I am tired of the endless facebook slagging matches and am sad to see some people leaving the industry through disillusionment.

As an industry we are never going to 100% agree with each other but we can at least try to be civil, surely?

Some of the negativity has stemmed from the recent trainsafe campaign which, in principle, is a marvellous idea but unfortunately some people have just used it as an excuse to slag of other pole instructors.  Ironically some of those supporting the the trainsafe campaign are individuals who have let their insurance and first aid lapse frequently, I won't name names as this would just increase negativity but I just want people to stop and think before they criticise others so publicly.  None of us are perfect and we should be constantly trying to improve our own personal practice before we resort to criticising others. Also just because we have been teaching for many years we may still be able to learn something from those new to the industry, they may have fresh ideas that we haven't considered before. 

OK, so let me play devils advocate for a second. I had a case where one of my students went to another school and told them that she had learned how to shoulder mount on her first lesson, you can imagine the horror of the new instructor thinking that I was teaching advanced moves to someone with no experience. Luckily the instructor knows me and private messaged me to ask about the students experience. I explained that we do a grounded shoulder mount on the first lesson and this was how the confusion had occurred.

It may be the case that someone might teach a shoulder mount on someone's first lesson, unlikely but that person may be a person with previous experience/skills that are capable of learning at a faster rate. I recently taught a set of Olympic divers and their gymnastic skills were awesome, they had no problems learning advanced moves such as split heel pose and chopper on their first lesson.

Another factor to consider is that for some students no matter how much you teach them they just don't listen, I know that some students, especially the kamikaze ones, won't listen when I ask them to perfect a specific move before they try something more advanced and I can't control what they do when I am not looking or what they do in the privacy of their homes, nor would I want to. We can only advise, that is it. As a result when said student posts a picture on facebook of them dangling off the pole in a dangerous manner in my studio all I can do is keep advising them, not shout at them, not demand they remove the photo but just hope that they may listen in the future and keep reinforcing my advice so that hopefully one day they will be safer and they will understand why I have been teaching as I do.

We have to give some respect to individuals to teach how they see fit and to make their own judgement calls rather than being dictated to by others. We can set codes of conduct, as we have done with the Pole Dance Community (code of conduct for pole dancing instructors), but lets not get too regimental about things. To make out art truly beautiful we have to encourage creativity amongst both our students and our instructors. 

Also no matter how hard you think it is when a student/instructor leaves you to set up their own school please try to remain professional. I have had several of my students/instructors go on to set up their pole dancing business and some of them have been extremely successful. What I have learned from this is that the best thing I can do is keep my head down and concentrate on making my business the best it can be rather than wasting negative energy on those who are merely trying to go it alone. I am happy to say I am now friends with all of those who have left the Art of Dance and am so proud of all their achievements.

The industry is big enough for diversity so instructors can teach different genres and styles giving students more choices. I have many students who visit the three Plymouth pole dancing schools as they gain different things from different instructors. I think that it is great that they have so much to choose from.

My final comment is that even if we consider an instructor to be 'less good' or 'less experienced' that person may still be passionate about pole, they are still introducing new people to the pole world. I was an awful instructor when I first started but we all have to commence somewhere.

So can I plead with all of you to think before you post on facebook or other public forums, try to see both sides to any story and lets support each other wherever possible. We can share our skills and experiences and make the entire industry better. 

Stay Healthy,

Sam x 

All images courtesy of the gorgeous Millie Robson.