Updated: Jan 18
OMG you are ready to perform!!! You know you’ve got the desire, the moves, the combos and maybe even the story… but what about the song?!
Well, really the sky's the limit - and the truth is there is no right or wrong way to go about this creative process. Because of so many options of songs it can easily feel overwhelming. You may have SO MANY questions about what makes some songs work better for performance over others.
What does matter above all else - is that YOU love listening to this song (again and again) and that it is in alignment with your story, strengths and unique style.
You may find a song that just “clicks” early on - and hearing THE song itself is the trigger to tell you that you are ready to perform! Starting with a song influences your story and movement to revolve around that song.
But sometimes your song can be THE LAST THING to actually bring it together at the end. Either process is fine. They both occur, and there’s no “best” way… expect yourself to discover your song and story as you go on the path.
Although there are similar patterns I've discovered throughout years of experience in creating performances for myself while training others to take the stage in performance or competition, I recognize the process is always a little different. And of course it is! Your performances are completely different entities of creation, made in different points of time with new influences!
I am always evolving, therefore my processes and my art produced are different. Let things evolve, and be revealed to you!
YOU DO NOT NEED A SONG TO GET STARTED ON A PERFORMANCE ROUTINE.
Honestly, there are a lot of other details more complicated than the song choice, and if this is where you find yourself getting stuck right off the start - then I recommend starting at another place altogether.
The skills and combinations are definitely going to be the challenge here. The best place to start is the “Brain Dump” activity. It will get your skill vocabulary out on paper, and you will be delighted and surprised at all that you know! From there the next step is to play with combinations of movements. This is a brain purge of the tricks you like, can do well, and the moves you’d like to get. (Available for your own download here).
Just get started - the song, the story, the skills & tricks will come together as you walk down the path.
There are so many options of songs - from all the different genres, artists and instruments under the sun.
“Should I go with something that is more classically ‘pole dance’ (whatever that means),
“Should I go with something that feels totally different and new?”
DO YOU KNOW YOUR STORY?
Always consider your performance as really just an opportunity for a grand stage for you to share a story through movement. Keep it simple. What story do you want to tell?
“Is there an actual story, timeline of events or characters that I want to portray?”
“What energy or emotion do I want to share? Do I want to share something I’m aspiring
to, or something I am working through?”
“What is my honest truth right now?” Without judgment, “Do I want to be brave and
BOLD to share my truth, while in my imperfect vulnerability?”
***Spoiler Alert - these are always the best performances: the raw, vulnerable stories that require us to take a bit of risk on ourselves, and have the courage to show up OUR WAY.
Perhaps this manifests in a similar way to some, and less so to others. Sometimes that means your story will be sad or dark. Sometimes it means it is hopeful, quirky and fun. Sometimes we dance for joy - simple dancing for joy’s sake. Do we need other reasons? However, showing up vulnerable, raw, heartfelt or sincere - this is what will move us, and this is what will move our audience.
This means stepping outside of what your expectations are on what
pole dancing should look like.
ARE YOU TOO WORRIED ABOUT WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING OR THINKING?
Let’s work on this mindset piece right now. What others are doing is great and inspiring, and hopefully they are moving in the right ways for them. However, a lot of our motivation likely comes from either trying to impress others, or from trying to prove ourselves in some capacity.
Stop that right meow!!!
Rather, let’s give ourselves the refreshing permission to let our purpose for pole or aerial performances be to FILL OUR OWN CUP, and for the sheer joy of celebrating our abilities along our path. Rather than worrying about impressing anyone, let it be instead: that you are supreme in your story - and ANYONE who is LUCKY ENOUGH to witness you on the stage, (or on the internet video), have the privilege's to witness you in your moment. Your moment of celebration for your personal investment.
Performing is always a celebration in your ability to be seen.
"I DON’T WANT MY SONG TO BE TOO SLOW OR BORING, OR TOO FAST & EXHAUSTING!"
Good performance songs will be between 2:30-4 min or so - much longer and you better know how to pace yourself, and there aren’t a lot of songs that are much shorter than 2/2:30 minutes. There are no hard rules about this, but here are some guidelines for dynamic songs.
“Does the song change in tempo at all? Or is it rather static in a slow, or very fast tempo
the whole time?” -
“Are there layers of various instruments or vocals that come in and out?”
“Are there moments that would be good for me to:
Connect with the audience?”
Demonstrate alignment with my story, energy or intention?”
Catch my breath?”
Find movement off the pole or apparatus?”
Moments that I really, really love?
“POPULAR” IS GOOD, BUT NOT TOO POPULAR??!!
It’s nice when people know your song or artist - if they are already fans, they will immediately have more interest and connection with your performance. On the other hand, if they hear your song and start and think “oh man, ANOTHER performance to THIS song?” They might automatically shut down because people have notoriously short attention spans, and it is easy to think that they’ve "seen this one before".
“Will people recognize this artist or band? Are they perhaps 'over' played on the radio?”
I would stay away from current songs being continually played on the radio or media. Unless you are THE FIRST person to use it, chances are many others have used it and yours will be a drop in the sea of performances to the song.
“Am I doing a cover? Is my cover song unique, or have many others done different
covers to this same song?”
Some people LOVE COVERS - and some have very specific responses to them. Of course - if you absolutely love it, your crowd will absolutely love it too.
I recommend taking a “deep dive” into your favorite artists - chances are you will find some amazing music from popular artists that are not so mainstream. People will recognize the artist, but not be able to pin the song immediately. People hear this and perk up because they feel recognition, they like it - although they may not have an association with it yet. Imagine, from there on out you could be what they think of every time they hear that song!
IT IS VERY LIKELY AT SOME POINT YOU WILL CHANGE YOUR CHOSEN SONG.
You can actually do this without changing much of your routine. There will be musicality notes and your timing will need to change, however it does not need to start over. Listening and knowing your music, plus knowing your movement combos and patterns, will allow you to put any movement pattern to any music.
Don’t believe me? Try this fun exercise - take a combo of movements or a pattern that is set to a specific musical piece. Just pick something from a class, or if you have it, a pass from a previous routine. Now, take the same pattern and put it to a different, (even random) song. Will it look different? I hope so. How will the timing be different? Let yourself break apart the original counts, and deliberately find breaks or additions to the pattern itself. This will naturally show up during this playful process!
*** Pro Tip - This is a fun & easy way to refurbish your favorite movement combos any time.
BLAH BLAH BLAH
THE LESS YOU INTELLECTUALIZE ALL OF THIS, THE BETTER.
FEEL WHAT YOUR BODY LIKES TO MOVE TO - THAT IS ALWAYS THE BEST CHOICE.
AT THE END OF THE DAY, THE BEST SONG FOR YOU IS THE SONG THAT YOUR BODY ENJOYS LISTENING & MOVING TO THE MOST.
At the end of the day, the intellectual choices are not necessarily “the best” choices for creative dancing. There’s no such thing as “the best art.”
At some point you’ll probably have it narrowed down to several potential options. This is the time to close your drapes, turn down the lights, have the glass of wine or - …. - and then put on your narrowed options and let the notes melt over you. Notice how your body feels? What does it respond to?
THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTIONS IS INTUITIVE - IT IS FELT IN YOUR BODY.
STOP HIDING - YOUR LIGHT IS PAVING THE WAY FOR OTHERS.
I know you can do this. You will love the way you feel with taking this bold step. What other things are holding you back? I PROMISE that you already have enough to start bringing a performance together, even if you have just started on your journey.
Nothing needs to stop you now! Holding this space for yourself will hold the door open for others to be inspired and grow. Best of luck, Darling!
With much Love,
Dancer: Shaylee Cram, Photo: Nikkita Saulnier