By Candace Williams
Style. Sass. Sparkle. All will be on display come October 17 and 18 when Pole Pressure DC presents its annual “pole-usical,” a musical extravaganza that brings together students and instructors for a night of fun.
At this year’s much anticipated marquee event, pole will meet the Roaring 20’s as performers present a lighthearted look at Pole Pressure life, interpreting music from the 2002 Academy Award-winning movie, “Chicago.” Pole Pressure students and teachers alike will kick up their heels, shake their booties, jump through hoops, and strike a few poses and more as they present pole, chair and aerial hoop routines of their own creation.
Preparations for the pole-usical began in earnest back in July with auditions for solo and other parts. Additionally, a four-person student troupe, which I am part of, has been meeting one night a week to learn a four-and-a-half minute routine choreographed by Pole Pressure master instructor Sarah Hill. As a member of the troupe, I was not required to audition for this segment, which will open the show.
This is my third time participating in a troupe, having taken part in the 2012 pole-usical at the Source Theater and the troupe that performed during this year’s 2014 Pole Pressure competition at Penn Social. As always, there is much to learn as the practices provide an opportunity to grow.
When I took part in pole troupe for the first time, I had a small part which consisted mainly of floor work. For the second troupe, I climbed a spinning pole and transitioned to an inside leg hang – a skill that would later come in handy in competition. It was a new experience for me as I had been working primarily on a stationary pole since taking up the sport in 2011 at the age of 45. For this new troupe, I am again being pushed out of my comfort zone and facing new pole challenges head on, as I transition to moves that I would ordinarily do from the floor!
Behind the Scenes
“Five minutes to warm up!” says Hill on this particular August night as we gather in the downtown DC studio for another weekly rehearsal. We’ve learned about half the routine to date and all is going well. We’ve reviewed YouTube video of a past rehearsal to gauge our progress and are ready for our next steps.
“Climb higher,” Hill advises as I rehearse for the routine. I reach the top of the pole, perform the trick that has been assigned to me for this part and return to the floor. So far, so good. Then comes the challenge – learning to transition to a specific trick from a layback. I have not done this particular combination before. I feel my heart start to beat faster as Hill says, “Well, you’re going to learn it now.” My eyes grow larger as I watch Hill demonstrate the pose effortlessly. I take a deep breath, reach for my grip aids and apply them liberally. I tell myself there’s only a short distance from the floor and I can do this. I am strong enough.
With guidance from another team member who will be performing the same trick, I make my way back up the beam, lean back and find the pole behind me, making sure my legs are gripping it securely. I get into the pose, slowly, taking one leg off the pole and then the other. I do this a few more times, stumbling at one point, but I start to get the feel of it. Hill cheers with a “Yay” as I get into the pose, and it’s a good feeling to have learned a new trick.
As in the past, a successful troupe depends on several factors that Hill outlines from the first rehearsal. She tells us that we are to show up on time and leave all drama at the door. She also warns that anyone missing more than two practices will be off the troupe. Hill then takes down our contact information and the best estimates of our clothing size so she can order costumes for us. (Dance outfits can sometimes run small, depending on where they are purchased). We also review troupe fees, which cover the costumes and studio and instructor time.
We then take our places on the floor to begin rehearsing, with Hill shepherding us through each segment, step by step. When the night is over, Hill instructs us to go home and practice what we have just learned so that we can add on to the routine. We work together and help each other.
It’s fun to be part of the pole-usical and see what the other performers come up with for their routines. A good time will be had by all!