My First Solos

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My First Solos

Back in May, I did my first ever solo. I’d been poling for just under three years and had done a few group performances at student nights, but for various reasons had never taken the solo plunge. Looking back now, I’m so glad I did.

It wasn’t easy but the things that were hard, weren’t what I expected. I thought managing my nerves on the day would be my undoing, that my concept wouldn’t go over well, that the audience wouldn’t understand that I was using humour (or worse, that they’d understand I was trying to use humour but just not find it funny!), and that if I slipped up I wouldn’t be able to cover it.

Wrong On All Counts!

My nerves evaporated with the first sounds of appreciation from the small and very supportive audience. My concept – playing a sad clown to the tune of ‘Mister Cellophane’ from Chicago – was a risk and wasn’t what the judges expected, but was still a success. In fact, it was such a success that one of the girls in the audience approached me afterwards and told me that I’d inspired her to be different, a much greater measure of success to my mind than necessarily getting all of my moves and transitions absolutely perfect.

I used a lot of character work in my show, and a lot of self-deprecating humour on behalf of the poor old clown. The audience totally got it. To this day I love playing back the video and hearing them laugh in all the right places. And you know what? When I do watch it back and see the spots where I slipped a bit, I can see that I saved it well enough each time. Sure, not perfectly, but this was my first go and it was a bloody good one.

Mind Games

Where the tricky part came in for me was in all the preparation. I found it really hard to overcome my own mind games around doing enough practice and being constructive. So often, it was too easy to make a small mistake and throw in the towel for the rest of the day, or just mess around doing bits and pieces rather than concentrated practice. The challenge was overcoming a perfectionistic streak that tends towards anxiety if I don’t get things right first go – pole has taught and changed me so much on that front, but embarking on a new project like starting solos brought it out in me again.

For my next solo, which was a couple of weeks ago, I trialed avoiding practice altogether so that I wouldn’t create opportunities for myself to get anxious. I picked my song and got to know it really well, planned all the chorey out in my head and ran over it frequently (usually when I was trying to sneak a few more minutes in bed on chilly mornings, or in down time at work). The first time I actually physically practiced it was the night before the show.

This method had the desired effect of completely removing any anxiety for me, but the result was less polished than it might otherwise have been. Still, it was so much fun! This time I was dancing to ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ by the Beatles. I picked it because it has three really different moods within the one song and I wanted to experiment with that. I think it worked, and again when I used humour the audience responded really well.

When I watch the video of that solo back, I can see things that I could have done better if I’d practiced. So I’m thinking I need to try a new way of preparing for a show which gives me room to practice without over-stressing.

My Next Competition

My next solo performance is going to be for a pub comp (wheee!). It’s in four weeks time. This time around I’ve tried out-sourcing the chorey part, so that I’ve got a routine to work with and can just critique my form when I practice rather than talk myself out of the whole thing. I booked a private lesson with one of my teachers last week and we planned a brilliant routine in the space of an hour. I think this strategy is going to work for me this time. Watch this space for my next blog and I’ll tell you how it goes!

For anyone out there who is starting to think that they should try doing a solo, all I can say is ‘Do it!’ You might be like me, and you might have to try a few different ways to approach doing your show before you find the method the works for you. Even if that’s true, each thing you try is a lesson you’ve learned that will help you grow as a poler and a person.

Remember, anyone who comes to your first show will think you’re awesome. All your fellow polers will look at you and fondly remember their first solos, or look at you and see someone inspiring (and that’s a seriously amazing thing). Anyone else in the audience will be so wowed by the things you can do that you basically can’t go wrong. Give it a try

Category: Competition

About Tilly Dazzler

I started pole dancing three years ago when I was looking for a dance-based form of exercise that wasn't too heavy on foot work (I'm paranoid about having two left feet). I remember my first teacher telling our beginners class how we'd all get hooked - she was so right! Within six weeks there was no looking back for me, and within a few months I was poling twice a week, then three times, then buying my own pole...

Now I'm getting started with solo performances and amateur competitions. I've come so far with what I can do on the pole, and with how much confidence I have both on the pole and off it. I'm still completely hooked. Seeing all my mates in class and learning amazing new tricks together is a highlight of every week.

Pole has also led me to try a heap of other dance and performance arts like Charleston, burlesque, fan dance, contemporary, lyra, aerial silks, go go, and more. I try to work them into my routines and use them all to develop my style. I love using characters and telling stories when I perform, and I love experimenting with different types of music.

I hope you enjoy reading my pole blogs. Tilly D xxx

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