Sunday, October 16, 2011

The push-pull dichotomy of suspensions in pole dancing

I've been trying to "clean up" my rep list lately-- learn new moves that I should know because they're less advanced than what I usually do, but that for one reason or another I skipped over in my training. As you can imagine, as a more advanced dancer and as an instructor, this leads me to a lot of *thinking about* the moves as I learn them.

The biggest thing I've been thinking about is what I call the "push-pull dichotomy" of suspensions. By suspensions, I mean any moves where your body weight is "suspended" away from the pole, like a straight edge or a knee lock.

What I've concluded is: You must push with the bottom, and pull with the top.

The bottom and the top what? Anything! Elbow, foot, hand, knee-pit, whatever is there and has the capacity to pull (top) or push (bottom).

Let's look at some examples:

Elbow straight edge. Bottom hand is pushing the pole, top elbow is pulling it.
 Photo from

Knee hold. Top inside of knee is pulling the pole, bottom outside of knee is pushing against it.

Photo from

Starfish: Bottom foot is pushing, top foot is pulling.

Photo from

Front armpit hold? Nope. Trick question. Not a suspension. Body weight is held to the pole.

Photo from

This is not just philosophizing about the yin and yang of pole; this is practical information you can use. If you're having trouble with a suspension, just ask yourself: are you pushing sufficiently with your bottom appendage? Are you pulling sufficiently with your top appendage? Chances are, one of these will be remiss. Now that you know, you can fix it.

For example, when students first try to elbow grip, whether it's a straight edge or a caterpillar, they often fail because there is not enough pull. They cautiously try to keep their bodies close to the pole, so their body weight is not far enough away from the pole to cause pull on the elbow, and they slip right down. If you were attempting a straight edge, and you knew about the push-pull dichotomy, you would be able to correct yourself.

You must balance the yin with the yang. Grasshopper.

Can anyone think of an exception to my rule? Are there any "suspensions" that don't involve a pull on top and a push on bottom?

Photo of Pippi by ValkyrieNYC.

No comments:

Post a Comment