All posts by findingyourfreestyle

Tracee Kafer is the founder and creator of Finding Your Freestyle.

Consider Posting Longer Videos…Here’s Why.

Question: What are we doing to our journey, to ourselves, and each other, if we only encourage and actively engage videos for 15 seconds or less, on a daily basis?

By now most of you are probably aware that Instagram has increased it’s video length maximum to one minute! And yes, this change may be motivated by algorithms, celebrities, and sponsors, but I am so excited and grateful for what it may encourage long-term in our own movement and pole community. I have been meaning to write this for awhile now, so I’m glad to finally sit down with some coffee and tap these keys out. Please know this rumination may go on a few tangents along the way. (Insert joke about time limits and shortened attention spans.)

I began sharing and consuming pole videos online in 2009 (I had been poling for about a year by that time, but didn’t have the studio space to record anything). The sharing and watching of pole videos, let’s face it, is the bread and butter of our modality and community expansion. But the whole landscape was entirely different then. There were less pole tricks, less complex combinations, less pole vocabulary (and a lot more repetition), less pole dancers, less ‘ebrities, less videos, a lot less quality instruction. Many people were figuring it out as they went along, and it was an exciting time of magic and intimacy and novelty. We would watch and re-watch videos for inspiration (almost to an unhealthy obsession), and sharing was a huge part of the growth of everyone (which is still true today). Those original pole video years for me consisted of tons of recorded long-form freestyles and edited mash-ups of current tricks I was working on. I would edit out numerous pole wipes (sweaty hands) and disastrous aerial faux pas (although many are still in there, oh lord my inverts!), or paste together multiple songs, but I hardly felt encumbered or worried by a time limit, or the limits of someone else’s attention. Many of us watched every single second of everyone else’s videos we loved (6 minute freestyle? No problem.), and we shared a lot more of other peoples movement than our own in our social feeds. The smaller, fledging community was paired with a much larger attention span, and now, the direct opposite is true.

I would watch videos like this over and over….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6VXO-xye-0

and this…

and this…

and for fun, here’s an oldie from my own library…

I loved this part of my journey, so very much. I can literally use my YouTube channel as a visual timeline of my movement evolution (and if you want to go back even further, and into more embarrassing territory, I still have even older stuff on Studio Veena). I can see the parts where I began by imitating my instructors. I can see the parts where I was so obsessed with a move I would treat it like a track on repeat (shirt tug and hair toss, anyone?). I can see the parts where I struggled to finesse pole fluidity and transition. I can see the parts where I forced myself to do things I thought were important. that later I could care less about. I can see the parts where I realized I felt truly sexy. I can see the parts where I realized I was strong, and where I was weak and my body had had enough. I can review bad and inconsistent form, and visually asses my alignment and engagement, something truly invaluable about personal video. I can see the parts where I tapped into emotional awareness, emotional validity, catharsis, and then later emotional intelligence and integration. I can remember those specific videos that would permanently unlock style expansion, musicality refinement, strength, confidence, flow, freedom. I am so grateful to have these videos, with timestamps, and music, and mistakes, and friendships that surrounded it. I remember who filmed them, how I felt when I would watch them for the first time (“Oh, the horror! Oh, that’s not so bad. Oh, that was kind of awesome! Ooh that is new for me!”). I remember the anticipation of uploading and sharing them. The fear and excitement of realizing I was starting to embrace who I was, flaws and all. I remember the first time I decided to use my real name in the title of a freestyle video. (Yikes, there goes my google search corporate America!) The apprehension, then relief when others recognized or embraced my movement. I remember the encouragement, the generosity in compliments and sharing, and the moment when others started asking for advice about their own movement journey. Then the moments later on when I realized I continued to share for my own reasons, whether that was encouraging myself or others. Sometimes it was about connection, sometimes it was just about following my own freestyle-obsessed bliss, and being able to refer back to it for my own reasons. There was nothing else in my entire life that I had invested in that amount of self-care, personal cultivation, and contribution to community. Instagram, and Youtube, after all these years, is really just my visual journal of my life as a pole dancer.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

As time passed, and sheer numbers grew, I feel video exploration and process in our community seemed to be replaced, slowly, by results-driven creation, competition, and finally, intentional branding. A inevitable sweet-meets-sour place where the dreams of pursuing career and entrepreneurship became a beautifully attainable opportunity for those that loved to pole, and perfectionism, idealism, and compartmentalism shot an impending fog into our collective midst. I believe, as those dreams grew for so many of us, the landscape just had to change to meet it. (I am glad, though, that I still kept recording and posting many of my freestyles through all of it. I remember having conversations with people who would intentionally not post as much exploration for marketing reasons, and encouraged me to do the same. But I guess I realized it was a part of what I loved about pole, so I did it anyway. And I still do, even when I’m not moving at “my best”.)

Then, one of the biggest contributors to our current video sharing landscape came to the scene. INSTAGRAM.

Since the birth of video sharing on Instagram, we have now been exposed to hundreds of thousands of small bursts of bad-ass moments in polers’s personal pole trainings. I think one of it’s incredible uses is as an archival, sharing, melting pot of emerging pole trick vocabulary. A place where people can get their daily stimulation of what they may want to work on when they get in the studio, and vice versa, when they share what they did in the studio (usually it becomes this orgy timeline of ideas where everyone is sharing and borrowing and sharing, and growing and molding and modifying, very cool). But the points I make in this blog are not about those short clips that fully encase a trick/combo/move idea, but what it is doing to movement itself. A very important difference for me.

Tangent. In 2012 when I started Finding Your Freestyle and it’s subsequent YouTube Challenges and freestyle perspectives, I started turning my own process into a productive one for encouraging others on this path I was subconsciously fighting to create and keep valid. With all this pole industry acceleration I asked myself, “Where is the growth in self-progressing exploration? When does someone get the chance to turn inward? How can I develop tools and methods for molding a healthy and fulfilling practice? Can freestyle be embraced and further developed as the powerful creative process and training method that it is? And can others benefit from what is a vital life practice for me?” Movement doesn’t have to be inherently competitive, comparative, even complacent. We don’t have do it exactly the way we are taught, are used to, or the way we think others like it, or the way your friend or teacher or idol does it. We can learn the rules, enjoy the rules, and then enjoy breaking them. And then we can share our findings, contributing new ideas to the melting pot. Movement is a tool of personal evolution, and expansion, and a video account of that process is highly important for growth, and the benefits of sharing our process/journey are amazing and connective.

Originally, my YouTube FYF videos were loooooooong. Each one having an intro, deeper explanations, longer examples…videos were 4, 5, 6, 7 and more minutes long! I talked “too much”, maybe, danced for “too long”. I loved doing these videos, I really cared about them. I loved feeling like I had ample time to explain and demo an idea or creative concept. However, participation on a larger scale for these challenges didn’t really pick up and build momentum until Instagram allowed those short video clips. You had 15 seconds to share you and your freestyle in all your glory! I started adapting my freestyle challenges to IG (This was March 2014), and sh*t just took off running. I remember my first IG challenge was about movement through three different levels in 15 seconds, the time limit became part of the fun! 15 seconds became a safety net of accessibility and accountability, and more people, it seems, threw on a song and danced. Maybe it felt like less of a burden, or risk, or time commitment to post just a clip. You could freestyle for an entire song, but only share what you liked. You could freestyle for just the chorus of a song, and get your exploration training done faster than a commercial break. (AMAZING!) It gave people, who were hesitant to share, a platform that felt comfortable in it’s low-time-commitment. (And the filters! Oooh!) I feel this platform did help validate freestyle as a means to enjoy pole practice and to be proud of it, even if it was only one clip at a time.

Posting on Instagram can be incredibly fun and sometimes, even rewarding. We have gotten infinitely creative with our little rapidly-digestable squares. We can speed up, slow down, morph ourselves into these perfect-looking morsels of movement. Over the years we have seen an explosion of sharing, borrowing, gazing, following, leading in this 15 second format. But here is where I see a shift in our pole community’s collective consciousness. Growth happened so rapidly this way, and dancers are more consistently and constantly sharing in shorter and shorter bursts than those many years ago, but at a cost. And this is what brings me back to the core reason I write this. What are we doing to our journey, and to ourselves and EACH OTHER, if we only encourage and actively engage with 15 seconds or less, on a daily basis? (Actually, did you know that you have more like four seconds to engage someone with your video before they decide to move on?)

Instagram has birthed an entire movement of short-form, marketing-rich content where everyone can see and share the quickest, most succinct, best version of themselves and others. Realistically, it has far surpassed YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook as the dominant video sharing network for our industry (Most of our FB videos are direct IG shares, anyway!). I’ve seen the social feeds grow full and fat with chopped-up content, while those >3 minute YouTube videos keep getting fewer, growing shorter, and are less engaged with view counts (Of course FB and their video engagement allowances play a major role, too). It’s like because we can clip out our most dynamic, highest peak or most interesting moments in our training, explorations, or choreography/performance, we never see the entire picture, of anything. I mean, there are highly visible pole people in our community whom I’ve never seen move for longer than 15 seconds! Real talk. In this process, directly and indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, we deny huge aspects of our practice. We can collectively glorify those few seconds of seeming pole/movement mastery, and we can hide and ignore anything we don’t feel like owning. And I say this as a passive process, I understand this isn’t necessarily an intentional act. In the selection and sharing of “clips”, we are editing ourselves, and only seeing the edited versions of our peers, and that has to have a profound psychological impact.

My concerns are not only just about the way we integrate and acknowledge all aspects of our own movement process, but what we give to others. In giving ourselves less attention, we ultimately give others less, too. It’s a vicious cycle.

But through being energetically aware, responsible, and generous, we can create inclusiveness, warmth, and learning!

Already I’ve seen people get super pumped about their one minute new clip lengths. So many longer movement ideas are already being shared, climbs and descents start and finish in-video before the inevitable TA-DO moments, and it makes me heart sing every time. I find myself quite easily watching these clips entirely, even though it is FOUR times longer than the previous time limit. This is a huge increase if you think about it! We have already started adjusting to the lengthened format…and I look forward to the balance these longer movement moments in our feeds may create.

Ultimately, I wish social media continued to be a tool for our community where you can still be encouraged to integrate the many aspects of our movement journey, not just function as a super spliced-up, un-mindful, sensationalist, denial-filled world where everyone attempts to attain virtual bad-ass-status. There are incredible experiences that we can have with each other and ourselves when we nurture generosity, curiosity, perspective, kindness, authenticity, compassion, laughter, reality. We are worthy before we even start moving, and we are worthy in those moments between our biggest leaps and bendiest shapes. I love watching someone else’s experience of growth. I can roll through my mind a dozen people who I have watched over the years, from video to video, change and grow into incredible artists and movers. And I have also seen their movement explorations inspire movement qualities of numberless others over time.

Now that we can post one minute clips on Instagram, all of my freestyle clips have been that length. I like my own video record this way so much better, as seeing a full minute is way more fulfilling for me to see what ideas and sensations were happening for me that day, than the previous 15 seconds. I looked back at my own video library, outside of Instagram time limits, and realized that I have continually done this. Majority of my videos are still pretty long. There is definitely a smaller community of freestylers out there that also continue to post long-form, and I love watching them! I love sharing freestyle in entirety, and will continue to do this, even if little to no one watches them! I still learn a lot from them, I hope it will still connect me to those people who may get inspired to move in their lives, and I enjoy seeing how I change as a whole.

So, if you made it this far….

Let’s get our Freestyle One Minute Movement going strong! I had been thinking of hashtags for awhile and I like the idea of using #oneminutemovement. (Please continue to use #findingyourfreestyle as well so I can find you easily!)

This movement challenge (for lack of a better word…) is a focus on duration AND task. I suggest creating freestyle sessions that last at least 10 minutes. It takes me on average about three songs to fall into my flow state. You should allow the full arc of experience in a session, first warming up the mind and body (don’t forget meditation and stillness), then maybe a song or sensation or breath cycle may spark an emotional or physical reaction inside your movement, and the juicy stuff that happens during and after this can also be quite special and useful. (Has a freestyle that happens when you are physically tired, been especially beautiful or honest?) True creativity is gifted through the power of time and attention. Think about the things in your movement that genuinely improved when you didn’t rely on denial and selective attention? A creative process that drags you both through the mud, and into bliss. In these longer formats, we experience integration of all parts, and we become more whole.

Post your #oneminutemovement both for yourself, and your peers. When we train our eyes and perspectives daily to look for more beauty, we inevitable find it. Look past the single beat, the single moment, the 4 seconds of dopeness. Embrace the subtle genius of your smaller or still moments, allow the build up, allow the aftermath.

I encourage you be inspired to create your own long-form prompts within the #oneminutemovement. Create your own hashtags and challenge your friends! The more people we can encourage to share, the more confidence and support you may bring to their practice, and your own. I have a few I thought could be great, and will be playing with them as well:

#oneminuteflight (one minute up the pole, woohoo!)
#oneminuteleghangs
#oneminutebodywaves
#oneminutefankicks
#oneminutetwerk
#oneminutefloorwork (oneminutefloorfuck?)
#oneminutecircles
#oneminutestaticspins
#oneminuteslowmotion (yessssss)

Don’t forget to share your journey with us, #findingyourfreestyle.

Happy moving. Happy grooving

– Tracee

Friction, A Contact Improvisation

If you try this exercise, please tag so we can see your explorations! #findingyourfreestyle AND #FYFexercise

This week in my Finding Your Freestyle classes at Body & Pole, we centered around friction as a theme. What a beautiful, wide-scoping noun! For pole dancers, friction makes up much of the what and how we do. How we communicate physically with our surfaces, what creates the magic of floating, lifting, sticking, dragging, sliding.

FRICTION (NOUN): “The resistance that one surface or object encounters when moving over another.”

There also is a humanistic component here to explore, if you think of one idea/emotion/person/communication coming into resistance with another, the mind simple explodes with ideas!

Last night, in a round of prompting guided by my theme of friction, I wanted to explore the “friction” between two persons when it comes to movement. You can see this exercise as metaphor for life, but how much resistance is generated or lost by the way one thing comes into contact with another? What drives our ability to “go with the flow” (internally and externally), what makes us stop our momentum, what can help us find the path of least resistance?

We used partners, (respectfully and safely) informed touch and direction guidance to find some really exciting movement. I swear, the collective movement quality of the room was next level. We will explore this again!

A few tips if you want to try this exercise:

  • •  You need at least two dancers, one who is moving, and one who is giving direction and focus.
  • •  Start by discussion your needs. If there is an area of the body that isn’t feeling great, let your partner know! Set your boundaries before you begin. Discuss what your needs are, honestly and openly. This also will create more trust between both of you! For example, does pushing, even lightly, trigger you negatively in some way? Do not judge where you are at, work realisitically with where you are at, and grow from there.
  • •  Keep the music gentle (repetitive and consistent, even potentially instrumental or ambient) to start; supporting larger, more broad-strokes movements until you get more comfortable with the partner exercise. The music you pick will dictate heavily the movement quality. Relaxed or dragging beats, will create the same sensation in the body.
  • •  Have the mover center their movement around a pole, or closer to the floor. As you get started you may want to rely on those places of anchoring so you don’t feel like you may fall. Those with stronger centers, or those feeling confident in their ability to direct momentum or fall safely, can do this without apparatus.
  • •  Mover gives non-verbal feedback that they are ready for another push, lift, draft, pull, or any direction intention by becoming still, or pausing their movement, signaling that they are ready for another action.
  • •  Those giving actions, think of larger body parts, sending energy through a place on the body that is more stable (upper/middle back, hands/arms, shoulder, hips, feet). If you are pushing or pulling, you don’t want to do so in a place that may feel potentially bad, dangerous, unstable for the mover to initiate movement from. As you build trust and understanding, you can take larger “risks” in your choices.
  • •  Think about the quality of your touch. What will foster trust, faith, and surrender in the mover? The quality of your touch, the way you apply pressure or momentum, and even the subtle energies (maintaining your focus, staying positive, loving or non-hesitant touches), all matter here. Practice will make your instincts better, feedback helps too!
  • •  Action partners…don’t be afraid to apply two forces gently, using two hands or assisting with another part of your body (shoulder, feet, knees). Get creative! Example: To get your mover to fold, it might work best to place one hand in front and one hand in back of their body, giving them maximum feedback that you intend them to fold.
  • •  Make sure you are switching their direction frequently, opening their possibilities of new directions, not simply predicting where they will most likely go next. That doesn’t keep the mover “thinking on their toes”.
  • •  Be curious, have fun, and try to make it work best for you and your partner, don’t just try it once! Grow the exercise in ways unique to your partnership, it may go in places you don’t expect! Let it!
  • •  I recommend recording your sessions, as video homework really allows you to see your choices, learn from what works and what doesn’t, allowing maximum growth out of the exercise. Allow the lessons to teach you more about you, and the way you move and interact than with just this one exercise.

Thank you to the lovely amazing Rebecca Starr for such an incredible demo.

Last night, in a round of prompting guided by my theme of FRICTION in FYF – I wanted to explore the “friction” between…

Posted by Tracee Kafer on Saturday, March 5, 2016

Feeling Stuck

I think it is important to keep sharing, exploring, and growing, even when you may be in a Valley instead of a Peak. As dancers and athletes we hide in shame from those phases of our journey that aren’t impressive…even from ourselves.

Due to a constantly challenging shoulder joint I am working hard to rehab (it is an up and down battle) – I have felt very stuck in my ability to express and exert serious cathartic energy into movement. I have had to contain, and be careful, cautious, observant, respectful. In freestyle, for many of us, this can be SO frustrating! Sometimes you just feel so physically vulnerable you just throw in the towel and don’t move at all, you avoid the studio, the mirror, the camera. I’ve done it more than once.

I am doing my best everyday to work within what is healthy, being conscious of what my body speaks back to me, but also not giving up on movement in general through this time. I want to share because this is NOT my best.

I have to stay so physically relaxed, I have to use my non-dominant arm, I can’t throw or push or engage in the way I feel I need to against that stick of metal. It is tough. And it affects my lines, and my ability to enjoy the motion creation without judgement calls. I stay more engaged mentally and intuitively in the dance than driving expression down into my heart and lower passions and powers. (This is sometimes where freestyles can be the most elating but sometimes physically destructive – more on that another time).

But I’ll keep working with as much patience and curiosity as I can. Because even this, even here, there is opportunity. And worthwhile time to invest. Sometimes strength to a pole dancer feels like the ONLY thing that matters, even on the floor and grounded movement. But I’ll keep searching…

Thank you for searching with me.

How do you move through times like these? Sometimes patience, simplification, and compassion are the best things to bring into the room with you.

I think it is important to keep sharing, exploring, and growing, even when you may be in a Valley instead of a Peak. As…

Posted by Finding Your Freestyle on Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Scarcity & Comparison

“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.” – Wayne Dyer

I have lately been meditating on the idea of scarcity. It is of highly visibility in this community that many ambitious and aspiring pole dancers, athletes, competitors, content creators, and Instagram-ers…may be preoccupied with the idea of scarcity. That people’s attentions are limited, opportunities are limited and highly coveted, that pathways of our own are blocked with huge obstacles and impossibilities. That we have to be or do more, every single day, to allow good fortune to come to us. I have my own personal relationship with this, one that goes back and forth depending on the season, and the work I am producing at the time. I can’t help but think of this affirmation, “I let go of Exhaustion as a status symbol, and Productivity as self-worth.”

I just want to offer a meditation, should you like to consider it….

Forget the idea of scarcity. Put it aside for a moment. Put aside the idea that there is only so much to go around; only so much opportunity, only so much choice, only so much space, only so much love. That if one person is brilliant, you must be less brilliant. That one persons physical beauty diminishes yours. That there is only one metaphorical (and even literal at time) stage, and only so many people can fit onto it.

Let’s embrace the idea for a moment that the world and its energy is completely abundant. That this abundance is waiting to be embraced, waiting to let your blockages of fear fade so it can be provided to you. That the amount of pathways that exist are completely infinite. That within the scope of our life, we can gather information, search for meaning, search for knowledge, gain experience, trailblaze, carve out new place to venture, rest and reflect, share space, give space, take space. That what we have to give is worthy, that what we are is worthy, and by cultivating the very best of ourselves (in balance), we can harness the creativity needed to offer something to the world that it needs. And that we can do this without total depletion of our energetic resources.

Start to imagine for yourself that your journey of movement is not a direct line of accomplishment and growth from A to B, but a veiny, snaking, shared web (like the tree roots in the photo, tangling with another) that grows through present decisions, faith, self-awareness, sharing, providing, failing, failing again, celebrating, loving what you do. No, every part of that pathway doesn’t start or end with abundant wealth of the financial sort, but it does yield so many other types of wealth you may not even consider.

My whole point, friends? Try not to judge, control, or over-plan your path. Our community has itself been evolving and going in directions we didn’t expect, and those old pathways that everyone thought they had to jump on to “make something” of their efforts in this industry is over-treaded and, well, just not the only path anymore. People are constantly surprising me with the space they are making for themselves. Allow the Butterfly Effect to take root in you, and you may land where you never ever imagined. That’s the thing, our minds may think they know what we want, but just imagine the unexpected, miraculous surprises in your life, and how the Universe sometimes gave you exactly what you needed, before you knew what that need was. I can’t help but think of that time I feared going freelance even though I was dreaming and pursuing the idea. I needed to be free of investing my time so heavily in other people’s pursuits that I didn’t wholeheartedly back, simply for a paycheck and stability. I wanted this life change so badly, but I hesitated. I was afraid. I was afraid there wasn’t enough work for me if I reached for it on my own. And then, WHAM, my job was outsourced and I was let go the very week I was more seriously considering leaving. Fired on a Friday, fired-up on a Monday, and full swing into the next chapter of my life. The one that led me right here. Best thing that even happened for me, and it was provided.

comparisonI’ll end with this, a major blockage for many of us. Comparison. Take a look at this card. Take a real good look, before you read anymore. What do you see? You may see 2 important, vital, gorgeous beings of nature. They are the same, and yet they are not. One doesn’t ask the other why they can’t have bark and gorgeous colorful shedding leaves in Fall, and one doesn’t ask the other why it can’t be thin, green, exotic. They each have a place in this world, and the idea that they might feel jealous or comparative is absolutely ridiculous. The message of this card freed something in me, and I had to share it with you. There will always be someone with qualities that you admire, love, even covet. But you are you, the only you in the world, so why not embrace that in your dance and your life, and see the crazy places you can go.

This card is taken from the Osho Zen Tarot.

Enjoy These 16 Beautiful FYF Theme Sketches

So, in case you didn’t know, there is a weekly Finding Your Freestyle™ class in London, taught by Julanne Barry! One of the things I really love about our classes in London is that they are pre-themed and curated to highlight important aspects of freestyle and movement for the London community. Julanne chose some incredible themes last year, and it kicked-off with “Taking it Slow”, the first theme from September of 2015.

Something that started off as a planned curriculum became even more fun when she appointed her amazingly talented husband, Jos, to become the glorified FYF illustrator; giving life, color, and artistry to each theme title! Every week, I would get so tickled to see the week’s theme pop-up on their FB group beautifully illustrated by Jos’s imagination-filled brain and skilled sketching hand. The following sketches are every theme from 2015, all hand drawn by Jos. I really wanted to show them to you in one place, to enjoy and maybe get inspired by them! Thank you Jos, our glorious and glorified illustrator, and I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings…

[slider slider_type=”slides” limit=”16″ id=”sketches”]

When it comes to IN-SPIRATION…don’t forget about the IN.

A RUMINATION ON FINDING INSPIRATION

We as pole dancers and movement enthusiasts have a smorgasbord explosion of options when it comes to imbibing the refreshments of social media-inspo. There are flows, there are combos, there are new tricks, their are new tricks on old tricks, variations, freestyle clips that encompass the very best moments of a song, flexibility goals, strength goals, friends who rock, strangers who rock, and more. It is overwhelming. It overwhelms me. I love it, and I dread it, at the very same moment of reflection.


If you search #poledance on IG, 1,260,257 posts and counting…

I would be lying if I didn’t honor that social media is an incredibly powerful tool that is a magical glue of connection across the land and sea of pole dancers. It’s power cannot be denied. I have been able to learn, travel, meet amazing people, and evolve because of it’s existence. Just from a single hashtag our worlds can expand, finding new things to stretch our minds and hearts. Meeting like-minded movers and thinkers who validate our own movement preferences and passions, watching those whose strengths push our perspective on what is possible, and not possible, within our own body. It is that koolaid-drinking, get-fired-up tool you can rely on when you are heading into an empty space to train, create, or experience movement. Options to play with based on things you get juiced-up on. There are people I see online who format their entire training regimes and sessions around Instagram wishlists. There are those that get up and move, because they saw someone else get up and move, and post about getting up and moving. It’s incredible. There is much to love, and appreciate.

AND…not instead of, but at the same time, I cannot and will not deny the vital importance of going in. And by going in…I mean GOING INWARD. Relying on the resources of self; your brain, your heart and emotional history, your intuition, your knowledge and intellect, facility and ability (without thinking they aren’t enough, at this moment in time…YOU ARE ALWAYS ENOUGH to explore YOUR MOVEMENT)…it is by going in that we arrive where we are, the dancers and movers and freestylers and athletes we can and should be proud of…

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. – Aristotle

I have said this message in class, and I will continue to find new and different ways to say this very same thing over and over again…but eventually in your journey you have to stop teacher-gazing, student-gazing, online-gazing, friend-gazing…and you have to start navel-gazing (a term I lovingly take from my acupuncture healer, Finbar McGrath). You have to move beyond imitation and inspiration, and start cultivating that which is yours. Many people never get here, because this is the hard stuff. It isn’t always “fun”, to come to terms with where you are really at, and to work with that you’ve actually got. In doing this, we have to take a deep breath, remove that static of denial, deflection and doubt, and acknowledge the beauty and opportunity of both our strengths and our weaknesses. We have to be silent, reflective, curious, and find our own pulse. Taking some time away from being taught new things by others, and trying to find our own guidance to pair with it. What music really generates unique instincts within our body? What moves ACTUALLY feel good, and can be repeated and expanded upon within our own facility? And, do we even like them? What flexibility and strength do we possess that we can harness in creation? How and where can we fill in gaps in our experience? What from our own lives can inform our artistry? How the fuck do we feel today, and what kind of movement DO WE NEED RIGHT NOW? (This is a big one.)

I have seen the magic that happens when we focus upon ourselves without judgement and with love. When we follow the odd, twisting, changing preferences of our own paths, and allow it to wax and to wane without resentment and regret.

If I asked you right now, you could probably list a few artists and professionals you know or admire who have done this self-cultivation. Who have seemingly invented new avenues to explore, and probably did it by spending a GREAT DEAL OF TIME ALONE.

I don’t want this article to suggest we all have to lock ourselves into the studio and experience our entire artistic existence by ourselves. I would never suggest that kind of total isolation. Collaboration, instruction, inspiration, and the social aspects of our industry are MAJOR points of joy and growth. But, I think, especially with pole enthusiasts and those trying to grow and find their own way, we have to be quiet enough to hear that voice inside. And sometimes it won’t speak up until we give it that time and space to do so.

HOW CAN WE APPLY THIS INNER REFLECTION?

As a final note, let’s land on a practical way we can use this inward gaze. Of course, there are a thousand and one ways to explore and find our inner silence and subsequent voice. But, let’s just start with an example. Let’s say you went to class. And in class you were given a flow and a trick. The flow interested you, it felt great, or maybe it didn’t but you know with a little love and attention if could go places. You executed the flow in class “right”, or at your best attempts maybe you got to do it once or twice in a satisfying way. So, now, you can have some fun with this morsel you’ve been given. (Time and time again we learn and experience things in class we never come back to, like, ever again. To intend to work with something does take effort!)

You take some time after class, or in a space rental a week or month from now, or at home in your pole space, or even in your mind in the car or subway – you start to play. You let the quality of content or instruction live within the confines of the flow, but then you identify what can be changed. Maybe in that spin, you have 2 contact points, and that leaves 1 or 2 limbs free for creative choice. Wow, even your fingers can play. Maybe you hone in on the sensation of weight in your feet, the pull of your dominant hand, the whip of the momentum, and you let your body get smarter with every attempt. Maybe you try to do the flow as slow as you are physically able so you can identify physical weaknesses within the flow you are rushing through. Maybe you realize that the contemporary styled movement works brilliantly to a song that screams SEX. Maybe with socks it slides and glides with elegance and ease, but in pole shorts and bare legs, it allows you to live long lines or shapes in interesting ways. Maybe you find that you can add, subtract, and insert transitions and spins into it that you love, diversifying and growing the combinations of movement. Maybe you close your eyes and enjoy the sensation of that flow, in a way you would never dream of doing with friends and strangers around. Maybe you try to reverse it. Maybe you imagine you are exorcising your shitty week with every rotation and every stomping step. Maybe at the end of it the flow is gone, and what is left is totally, excitingly, irrevocably, something completely new. Maybe, after a time, the flow doesn’t matter at all anymore, it just became a catalyst for a movement session you just created with your own curiosity. The same example can work with a singular technique or trick, it can work without the requirement of dance…the choice…is yours. It always is. All you have to do is realize the choice exists.

Appreciation.

I have been thinking a lot lately about appreciation, and criticism. Not really for any specific reason but the subject of what we think and say (and don’t say) about others is so interesting.

How can someone freely and honestly appreciate the creations and accomplishments of others if they a) have little-to-no self-appreciation and/or b) have created very little themselves that they are truly proud of.

Dissatisfaction and disharmony in ones own life will almost always transmute to dissatisfaction, criticism or judgement of others.

To find and appreciate something about someone else’s journey (even if it isn’t one you would ever take yourself) – you have to be on a path of your own, too. It’s a wonderful goal to strive to never be an obstacle in someone else’s growth.

If you would like to exercise more appreciation in your world (which leads to those wonderful butterfly feelings of wellness, not-to-mention generating positive experiences for others), the next time you scroll through your many feeds, take a few moments to write a sincere and well-meaning compliment, encouragement, or even private message acknowledging the creative effort of someone you may or may not know. And mean it. Take the time to be present enough to really see them and the effort they may have put into something, even if that something “ain’t really your bag”. And then, go do something for yourself that makes you feel pride! Take a dance class, record a freestyle (even if you never do anything else but watch it, and delete it), create a small choreo phrase, teach someone something new, invest in one of those idea bubbles in your head, organize a jam or training session, rock out a few crunches! Anything! Appreciate others, while also appreciating yourself.

I hope your week is a memorable and happy one!

This week, I appreciate this video footage of Terry Beeman, who reminds me by example to find every single moment’s full potential, and then, to reach 5 inches further into it. And to enjoy the sinking sensation into the floor, and the subsequent push to gain power from it. And those feet playing!!! GAH.

new years day practice 2016

This Is a personal video only, not intended for sales profit, this is for entertainment purpose only, i do not own rights to the music. Another editing project. Music on Itunes -RE (Helios rework) Practice day 1, finale project coming soon

Posted by Terry Beeman on Friday, January 1, 2016

Welcome to Finding Your Freestyle!

I know…it has been a long time coming. And I appreciate your patience more than you know. I am so happy to welcome you, finally. On this website, you can count on up-to-date info for workshops, intensives, classes, clothing, challenges, articles, video, and more! I hope to continue to inspire your movement journey, and connect with pole dancers, aerialists, and dancers from around the world. You are all so vitally important in weaving this web of great energy, and inspiring each other to keep finding joy and growth.

In finalizing the details of this site, I can’t help but remember the A-HA! moments I have had about FYF, and with my life in general. Many thoughts can be found if I just scroll past my old post feeds, as social media was the place where my brain and heart were allowed to marinate on my growing passions. I am eternally grateful for these platforms, and for the ability to see those thoughts evolve over time.

Here are a few things that I wrote on the Finding Your Freestyle Facebook page (the center of FYF’s growth over the years), which helped carve out FYF’s mission. If you are curious, take a look. And as always, thank you for your investment!

“It’s 2013. I’ve done the “hard on yourself. I’ve done the mental, verbal self-beatdowns. I’ve done the negative thoughts. I think as a dancer this mentality is what we are taught, what we are bred to do to reach personal excellence from a very young age. I don’t buy it. Not for me, ultimately. There are too many highs and lows. Too many sacrifices to my personal peace & happiness as a dancer. My more recent journey, and the one I think I will lead with me for the rest of my moving life, is one from love. I’m interested in if the same can be accomplished through self-respect and kindness, belief, overcoming the negative thoughts that swim back in, letting them go. Moving on. Praising my strengths and acknowledging my weaknesses, from the kind perspective of the objective observer. Working through them rather than trying to “beat” them. I hope that as a teacher, and a friend, I can try and instill this in others when I see the nasty creep in. When I see others not see themselves the way I do. Let’s bring positivity and light into our movement – and see how it grows.”

Original post here.

“I remember saying as a kid and young adult, that I wouldn’t want to dance full time because I wanted to also ‘use my intelligence and education’, as well as my body and creativity.

OH HOW UNBELIEVABLY WRONG I WAS.

Dance and athleticism, injury prevention, movement evolution and creativity, choreography, not to mention teaching all of the above – takes more cerebral work and intellectual depth than almost anything I’ve ever done. It’s fulfilling MIND, body, and soul. Dance grows intelligence and wisdom every day in so many ways. Thank god for dance.”

Original post here.

“One of the objectives for Finding Your Freestyle is to contribute tools, ideas, alternative options, and even simple hints – on how to have meaningful, creative, out-of-the-stale-cereal-box pole freestyles when what your doing isn’t working. Sometimes you have to try another door if yours is locked, more effectively and consistently getting you “in the moment” using creative imagination. Not simply relying on the idea that if it’s not going well that day, you should give up on it, or yourself. That’s the perfect time to start having FUN.”