Tagpole community

Stall Bar Challenge

Join us in July for the #stallbarchallenge!

I’ve teamed up with Pole In Style and Mighty Grip to bring the best cross training challenge to the Internet! Stall bars are one of the most effective off the pole apparatus that pole dancers and aerialists can use to up their training game.

“Lots of aerial arts rely on creating tension between two points, usually with a “push vs pull” action. This motion is best performed when joints are stacked, and muscle engagement is coordinated with your breath. This is a lot to remember when you are learning an aerial trick, and poses can be even more difficult with the swing and sway of hoop, or the spin of pole!

Learning how to engage the appropriate muscles in your back, or work on activating your glutes from the ground, can be a safer and more effective way to train. Stall bars are a static apparatus and many of these exercises can be practiced with your feet only just off the floor. Training with good technique helps you to build muscle memory and strength, reducing the risk of injury or aggravating imbalances in your body.” – (Source)

Baby poler Mel in 2016!

I have been using stall bars as part of my warm ups and conditioning program since 2016, learning about muscle engagement and building up strength for moves before taking them in the air. Now I am ready to share some of my favourite exercises with you!

 

 

 

All entrants in the challenge will also go in the draw to win amazing pole wear from Pole In Style and grip aids from Mighty Grip!

What do you need to do?

Join the #stallbarchallenge from 1st to 31st July 2018.

How to enter:
1. Like and repost this photo on Instagram and tag your friends in the comments
2. Follow host @melnutter_baudelaire and sponsors @mighty_grip and @poleinstyle
3. Complete all 8 exercise challenges before 31st July
4. Make sure your Instagram profile is public so we can see your progress
5. Share your videos using hashtag #stallbarchallenge, and tag @melnutter_baudelaire @mighty_grip and @poleinstyle in each post

Exercises
July 1st – Tucks
July 5th – Push Ups
July 8th – Plank
July 12th – Sit Ups
July 15th – Dragon Flag
July 19th – Side Plank
July 22nd – Iguana Mount
July 26th – Split Grip

You can find stall bars in your local gym, pole studio, or even in playgrounds outdoors. Keep and eye out and prepare yourself for a month of strength building! See you on Instagram!

Same Same, But Different

Last month the International Pole Championships brought the best of the best to the world stage. Live streams and social media stories allowed even those across the globe to watch each routine. As I sat there with my laptop perched on my knees, red wine in hand, the next routine started … “I know this song!”

Not only did I recognise the song, I had also choreographed my own routine to it. The waves of joy and appreciation I felt as I watched the competition were then mixed with nostalgia, memories, and connection. Hanka Venselaar … we speak the same language.

Across five years pole dancing in Sydney I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to perform over 15 self choreographed routines.Not only did the studio host regular showcase nights, but we also had access to a theatre venue once or twice per year, allowing us mere mortals to grace the stage and get at taste for the limelight.

Choosing a song for these performances was always so hard. I read over people’s playlists for pole and usually roll my eyes. They were just not my style.

So when I watch competition pieces it is rare to find such a connection with an artist. Tricks are always impressive, flow is inspiring, but when someone perhaps feels something that you feel …. priceless!

In hip-hop culture there are constant references to other artists. A title of a song included in a lyric, a sample from a record inspiring a whole new flow from a new MC. There appears to be less of a threat of copyright infringement and more an appreciation for each other’s talents. Don’t hide your source, name and fame them!

Not to say here that I expect Hanka Venselaar to have seen my performance from 2016. Or to understand how important that piece would become in my growth as a dancer and aerialist. That is not why I write this article.

Dancers, especially from pole, sometimes feel that revisiting a song that someone else has danced too, is the wrong thing to do. What if we changed our perspective to see just how many different interpretations of a song there could be? Not to make them hierarchical, not for the sake of for better or worse, but to learn, to grow, and to be encouraged to also think … more?!?

It is for this reason I have selected to play myself and Hanka Venselaar side by side (or at least simultaneously, my video editing skills only got me so far hahaha). My dance, from 2016, a part time pole dancer of five years, with a number of performances under her belt but far from a professional. And Hanka Venselaar, a competitor in the International Pole Championships and who has tens of titles and a lifetime of experience in aerial arts.

This video was created as a comparative exploration and should in no way diminish or criticise either performance. This one minute sample is from the same piece of music, matched identically as we both reach the climax and move towards the end of the song.

I have the utmost respect for Hanka Venselaar and the other competitors from the International Pole Championship 2018 and believe this platform for pole dance adds value and greater understanding to the idea of pole dance as art. The pole dance community supports creativity, diversity, and unique expression. This video compilation explores how one song, interpreted by two unique and creative minds can lay a foundation for a dance that is both very similar yet entirely different.
Personally, I am elated to find a dancer that shares a certain musical taste and I hope, if Hanka Venselaar sees this, she will have witness how her movements and dance inspire others involved in aerial arts.

May we forge a path of shared vision and shared passion, collaboration over exclusion and judgment. The tens of thousands of pole videos now dancing through the Internet have created a library of people’s stories. The threads of music and songs that now join dancers together throughout the years and across the other side of the world are just waiting to be discovered.

Happy dancing! 🙂

 

Pole Mates

Pole Mate [pohl-meyt] (noun): A person who loves pole dancing as much as you do and who is always in class to encourage you, laugh with you, remind you to point your toes, take photos of your progress, and photo bomb all of your shots with booty shaking and crazy dancing!

It has always amazed me how quickly people bonded in pole class. Unlike making friends in other contexts, the factors that bring together two people as they swing around upside-down can lead to a magical friendship. And when a non-pole-friend becomes a pole mate too, this is something extra special!

One of the most talked about reasons for encouraging people to take up pole is the sense of community that grows from studios and pole classes. For women and men, these friendships boost self confidence, increase motivation, teach people how to share and celebrate success, and make exercising fun!

Dancing with Julie! Photo Credit: Steve Teng

Below are six more reasons why pole mates are the best mates (not forgetting hoop pals, silks friends, and all the other aerial buddies out there too!)

Accountability
Let’s be honest, life can be busy. Between work, family, children, eating right, cleaning the house, and watching the latest series on Netflix, it can be hard to find time to workout. Most likely pole dance classes are easier to show up to than just working out at the gym, but even then, after a long day it can be tempting to just curl up on the couch and chill. Good pole mates keep you accountable. You don’t want to let each other down, and you both know you’re going to have a great time together in class.

Spotting and sharing new tricks or flow
Ideally you want a trained professional to spot you for tricks and teach you the safest and most effective way into and out of pole moves. But during practice times or when training at home, a pole mate is an essential resource in helping you work up to being able to accomplish a trick on your own. If they have already accomplished the trick, they may also share their own knowledge, which may be just the feedback you need to nail your nemesis move! Don’t be competitive and hide all your secrets either. Pole mate relationships are reciprocal and information flows both ways.

Ksenia spotting me as I work out this silk lock

Increase in motivation
By far the biggest advantage of having pole mates is the increase in motivation, and not just to show up to class. Set goals together and support each other in working towards them. Yes this involves a little bit of peer pressure, but sometimes that’s just the push you, or a friend may need, to really be their best.

Celebrating successes
In line with the noncompetitive ideas mentioned above, having supportive pole mates allows you share in each other’s success. These might be pole goals you have worked on for months, or simply learning a routine together and performing at a showcase. No matter how small, reward yourself and add depth to your relationship – a day at the beach, burgers and ice-cream, tickets to a pole show, or a massage!

Objective Perspective
Sometimes you need a friend to just tell you how it is. I love the energy of a supportive pole class, but a real pole mate will equally bring you up and be honest when things are not going so well. It can invaluable to have constructive criticism to polish a routine or choose a costume that fits just so.

Share cross training equipment or even private classes
Having pole mates can even save you money! Can’t afford a private class? make it a semi-private and plan with your friend what tricks and transitions you will work on with the instructor together. Don’t want to buy exercise gear that you are afraid you won’t use? Share the cost with your pole mate and train together – thera bands, yoga mats and blocks, and ankle weights, are all portable and can be shared around if you are training at home or in the studio. As you practice with the materials you will also be able to show your friends new exercises further supporting your cross training goals!

“Strong people don’t put others down … they lift them up!” Photo Credit: Steve Teng

Always remember that your pole mate is also your friend. Know each other’s limits and know when to call it a day. Having motivation is awesome, but over training is no fun for anyone.

On a final note, if you and your pole mates are up to a similar level in your training, try out some acro or doubles pole moves! There are lots of inspiring posts on Instagram and Facebook and doubles tricks are a great way to support your proprioception, coordination, strength, and balance. Already having a strong sense of trust in your partner makes many of these tricks so much safer and easier too.

Send this article to your pole mates and share the love!

Saturday Laturday!

At some point, pole dancers and aerialists will begin to see their upper back and shoulders becoming stronger and larger. Racer back tops and sleeveless dresses are now the norm as we cater to our growing lats, shoulders, biceps, and traps. Our bodies are stronger because of pole, yet many women question if their growing lats are something to be proud of or something to cover up.

So, in the spirit of embracing strong women, it is with great pleasure that I introduce #SaturdayLaturday! Show off your lats to the world and support women growing stronger – inside and out!

Just like #sundaybumday, and in the spirit of training safer and stronger, let’s look more closely at our lats, how they work to support us upside down, and how you can keep them injury free.

In the diagram you can see that the lats are the muscles that wrap around the middle and lower spine, extending up through the armpit. They insert on both shoulder blades and the upper arm at the humerus.  Their full name is “latissimus dorsi” which basically translates to “broad muscles of the back” – latissimus = broadest, and dorsum = back.

The lats connect and support movement through the spine, ribs, sacrum, and shoulder blades. Every time you lift you arms above your head and engage your shoulders, sit tall with good posture, or twist and bend your torso, your lats are put to work. Having strong lats will stabilise your scapula and upper back and also aid in shoulder stability. The lats pull your arms down towards your body and help with rotation. Try this: hold our your arm out straight and make a “thumbs down” action rotating from your shoulder. You should be able to feel your lats working in this movement. If you are familiar with a twisted grip mount in pole dancing you will also see the similarities and how your lats work to rotate your arm and shoulder for you to turn your arm and grip the pole.

Bodybuilders use exercises such as chin ups, pull ups, and pull downs  to strengthen and train their lats. Your inverts, shoulder mounts, and any work on silks and lyra, are going to engage your lats as well. Hence, the surprise when someone snaps a pic of you at the beach and you realise how much your back has changed because of pole!

Aerialists and pole dancers spend lots of time pulling with their arms overhead. Having strong lats will help with these movements and will give you better posture. But if the lats are too tight, you may be at risk of rotator cuff injuries as your shoulder overcompensates. Tight lats also make it virtually impossible raise the arms full over head in a backbend, and may even reduce your ability to create a stable base for a headstand (ref).

If alarm bells are going off in your head as you realise tight lats may be stopping you from reaching your flexibility and aerial goals, then read on!

One way to counter tightness and care for your lats is to foam roll them. Lay on your side with your bottom arm outstretched and the roller perpendicular to your torso. From here you should be able to roll forwards and backwards as well as side to side, being careful to not roll over your ribs. Regular foam rolling will help soothe and soften the lats.

When stretching the lats, ensure that your pelvis and ribs remain stable. If you raise your arms over head from a standing position and you find your ribs popping and lower back arching, your lats will not be stretched effectively. “Stabilise the origins” of the muscle by keeping your pelvis and tailbone tucked under and your core engaged. When you raise your arms, you should feel a stretch at the back of the armpit.

You can see how tight your lats are, and have a great lat stretch by trying this exercise on the floor:

Lie on your back on the floor with your arms by your sides. Feel where the back of your rib cage touches the floor, taking special note of the point of contact that lies closest to your waist. Turn your palms up, then lift your arms up and overhead to the floor, or as close to the floor as they will go without you bending your elbows or separating your arms wider than your shoulders.

For most people, this movement will make the lower ribs lift off the floor in back and jut out in front. Now return your arms to your sides and repeat the same actions, but this time, as you reach overhead, press the lower rib cage—the point closest to your waist—firmly into the floor to prevent it from lifting up at all. This will probably create a sensation of stretch on the outer sides of your armpits and make it harder to reach the floor. The stronger the stretch and the greater the restriction of movement, the tighter your lats are. (ref)

Here are some simple stretches to include after your pole dance or aerial session to balance out your training and give your lats some love –

1- Assisted Squat – Use stall bars or a high bench to offer resistance as you hold on with your hands. Start with a neutral pelvis (pictured) and then sink your hips down towards the floor. Tuck the pelvis and feel free to let the back round and relax, gently swaying from side to side to increase the stretch.

2- Elbows on chair – Use a rolled up towel or something to hold on to, to keep your arms from rotating back in. Sit on your knees in front of the chair and rest your elbows on the chair edge (roll up a blanket or yoga mat to make this more comfortable. Sink your hips down and lower your chin to your chest to feel the stretch.

3 – Eagle Pose – Doing this pose seated on a chair will ensure that you keep your pelvis and ribs in alignment, focusing the stretch on your lats without arching the lower back. Wrap your right elbow inside your left and curl your wrists around so your palms are facing each other (or as far as you can go). Lift your elbows towards the sky until you feel the stretch behind your armpits. Take a few breaths and then change sides.


With all the technical talk out of the way, it’s time to show off your lats! Join the #SaturdayLaturday movement, show off how strong and proud you are of your body and give your lats some love for all they do in your dance practice!

Use the hashtag #SaturdayLaturday on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and lets share the love for our lats!

The Best of the Best!

Great pole dance is often so subjective. A dancer’s choice of song, their style, heels no heels etc etc. Some performances strike a chord depending on when you saw it and what else might have been going on in your life. Occasionally, there are standout favourites that everyone agrees upon, and each dancer usually has their own personal treasures that they revisit time and time again.

 

As I get ready to release my own February Favourites (for all subscribers!), I found time to reflect on my favourite performances from the pole world from last year.

I love the innovation in these routines. The dancer’s ability to turn themselves inside out on the pole, not just in a flexi way, but in a way that expresses creativity and understanding of poses to link them together in a new way. I love seeing old tricks put together in new ways. And I especially love a dancer who expresses a new sense of musicality, hitting beats and finding flow in a way that draws you in, silencing everything else around you as you watch!

If you are still adding pole goals to your list for 2017, perhaps these routines will give you inspiration to think outside the box.

 

Natalia Tatarintseva – I stopped watching a lot of pole dance from the Ukraine and Russia, feeling overwhelmed by their gymnast bodies and apparent mastery of flexi tricks. Then I saw Natalia Tatarintseva who blew me away with her innovation and dance style. I love her use of the prop as well, integrating it into her spins and tricks! Prepare to watch in awe!

 

Elizabeth Gerrard and Nicola Burke – As well as being incredibly in sync, these girls offer new twists on old combos. All coupled with great connection and expression which helps tell the story of their performance. I love their simple gestures emphasised by musical beats.

 

Ke Hong – This guy has amazing flow, grace, and strength. And OMG his pointed toes! I love the drama of pole dance to classical and orchestral music. I’ll be watching what this guy does in the coming year.

 

Kristy Sellars – For all those polers who were hiding under a rock in 2016, Kristy Sellars changed the game in pole dancing forever! After her “Alice in Wonderland” performance, she created “The Abduction”, a collaboration of dance, visual effects, and amazing imagination! I love to share this routine with people who are not pole dancers. It really brings the art to the world stage and sets a new standard for the possibilities of pole dance.

 

Did I miss anyone? Who were your favourites from 2016? And who do you have your eye on for this year?

Let me know on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and continue the conversation!

Merry Pole-mas!

Wishing all of my readers and subscribers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. In Cambodia we say “Sua-sdey bon noo-ael”!

I would like to thank everyone for their continued support and encouragement, online and in real life 🙂 The new year marks the beginning of my sixth year dancing and 2017 is shaping up to be full of more amazing opportunities.

I’ll be heading to Thailand in March/April and then will be back in Australia for a quick visit in October. I am open to traveling globally for pole shows, workshops and tutorials, dance training, and choreography advice, or can come to you via Skype anywhere and everywhere!

If you would like to make a booking or chat about your next routine, drop me an email at mel@melnutter.com with your details.

Don’t forget to sign up to my mailing list for lots of extra goodies! I send out 6 emails a year with pole tips, performance advice, links to my favourite pole dancers and cross trainers, and you get exclusive access to my training videos. Click here to sign up now!