Continued from Part 1…
I attended 3 workshops on Saturday:
- Fly Gym Pole
- Elbow Grips with Carlie Hunter
- Master Tricks and Combo’s with Marion Crampe
Besides my pole, I also have a Fly Gym, which is an aerial hammock that is rigged to the ceiling.
I ordered it with the intention of using it to stretch and condition, but other than watching some videos on YouTube, I never really knew how to use the Fly Gym effectively. So, when I saw this workshop, I knew I had to take it! This workshop was great because the instructor showed us how to use the Fly Gym with a pole to increase strength and flexibility. She showed us how the Fly Gym can also be used as a safety harness, especially for beginners who are learning how to invert and build strength. The only complaint I had about this class was that I wish we were able to cover more exercises; 1 hour wasn’t nearly enough time!
This workshop was all about the elbow grip! Carlie was a wonderful instructor – she started us off with a fun, dancey warmup to Teach Me How to Dougie, and went right in to teaching us the moves. I really appreciated the fast-paced nature of this workshop, since she was able to show us more moves than the average workshop in the same amount of time. She covered her signature move, Devil’s Elbow, other elbow grip spin variations, elbow grip handpsring and elbow grip lifts. By the end of the workshop, my elbow was crying for me to stop, but it was so worth it. Check out Carlie’s signature move (Devil’s Elbow) below:
This might have been my favorite workshop. Marion has always been such an inspiration of mine – her style of dancing is elegant, graceful, and effortless (well she makes it seem effortless). So, I was pretty bummed when I found out this workshop was already full when I signed up back in June. But, on the day of the workshop, I decided to see if there were any openings. I was told that there were none but I could be the first on the waitlist and if there was a no-show I could get in. I showed up at the workshop and luck was on my side – there was 1 no-show! Needless to say, I was super excited. Marion ended up being phenomenal – not only is she an amazing instructor but she has a great personality as well. She showed us a couple of unique transition moves that were not too difficult (which my body appreciated at the time) and then went over her signature move, the Janeiro. I figured I wouldn’t learn anything from the Janeiro (since I’ve had this move since March), but she actually showed us a beautiful variation that I had never seen before. Marion was one of the instructors that went way past the allotted time slot because she said she was having too much fun! Also, since this was the last workshop of the day and Marion wasn’t in a rush, she decided to give everyone a personally signed picture of herself! She was such a sweetheart 🙂
Besides all the wonderful workshops I attended on Saturday, my cousin Amy and her boyfriend Brendan drove from LA to spend the weekend with me in Vegas! Amy and I are like 2 peas in a pod so we always have a good time no matter where we are.
By Sunday, my body was pretty beat – tons of bruises and sore muscles. But, I powered through and went to my last 3 workshops:
- Marion Crampe Contortion
- Chinese Pole
- Advanced Pole Anastasia Skukhtorova
I absolutely loved this workshop. Taking a non-pole class after 6 pole workshops in 2 days felt like a breath of fresh air and Marion really stretched out our muscles nicely. After warming up with some dynamic stretching, Marion had us focus on hip flexors, shoulders, neck and back. One of the most important lessons I took away from this workshop is to NEVER stretch for middle oversplits by putting blocks under your feet. Marion explained that this can cause the knees to become hyper flexible, which compromises the stability of your knees making them more prone to injury. She said that the proper way to stretch for middle oversplits is to either put blocks under the knees or to arch your back as you sit in your middle splits. I also found out that neck flexibility plays an important role in back-bending poses (which makes sense now) and Marion told me that I have very flexible neck! She also stretched my shoulders when she was showing everyone how to partner stretch and asked me if my flexibility was natural or if I worked for it. When I told her natural, she kindly reminded me not to forget the importance of strengthening – naturally flexy people need to make sure their muscles are strong enough to support them in these positions! Thank you Marion 🙂 By the end of the workshop my muscles were so warm and stretchy. I hope I get to take another contortion session with Marion one day!
Chinese pole was a toughie. I wasn’t expecting it to be that different from regular pole, but I was so wrong! For those of you that don’t know, Chinese poles are coated with a silicone/rubber material and you have to wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt to minimize burns. Shoes are typically worn as well to help with climbing the pole. Unfortunately, I forgot my sneakers so I ended up doing the workshop in ballet flats, which made it more difficult. In the beginning we worked on different types of Chinese pole climbs. It was so weird using the soles of my feet to climb the pole – it was hard to shake off the initial “point your toes!” mantra that I’m constantly drilling in my brain. For the rest of the workshop I concentrated on fonjis – regular and reverse as well as stringing them together. I actually found the fonji to be somewhat more difficult on the Chinese pole since my shoulder kept sticking to the pole. I think I attempted the fonji-reverse fonji combo too much because I left the workshop with terrible burns – through my long-sleeved shirt!
Check out my fonji-reverse fonji attempts below:
Last but not least, I took a workshop with the incredible and sweet Anastasia. Her dancing is defined by her beauty, strength and extreme flexibility. She ended up focusing on a lot of elbow grip moves (different from Carlie’s workshop), but my elbow pit was so bruised that I had trouble doing tricks over and over again. Luckily, I learned a lot from just watching Anastasia show and explain each move. She was a great instructor – not only did she explain everything very well, but she also made sure to go around to each student to help them. I would love to attend another workshop with Anastasia, or better yet, have a private lesson with her!
All in all, Pole Expo was such a fun and amazing learning experience. It has really inspired me to strive harder each day to become stronger, more flexible and a better pole dancer overall.
Although Expo left me all beat up…
…I also bought a lot of awesome pole gear 🙂
I really hope I’ll be able to go to Pole Expo again next year. In the meantime, I’m super excited for the next big convention – Pole Con – which is being held in DC in 2014!!!