Why I Compete for Feedback, not Awards (My Liquid Motion Journey)

By Dorcas Washington

Finding your niche isn’t always easy or intuitive. And more than that, it can change over time. When I first started pole in 2018, I wanted to master tricks as soon as possible. That’s it. But as time progressed, I understood that I need something to string these tricks together more fluidly. I realized that I wanted to move beyond the combo. I became interested in aesthetics and flow, in addition to wondering how and where I’d ever apply these tricks. I knew there were pole competitions, but I’d never heard of Pole Sport Organization before. So when Heather, the owner of my gym, mentioned competition to me, I jumped on the opportunity. It sounded like exactly what I was looking for.

Pole Sport Organization (PSO) recently added Low Flow and Floorwork with levels to the competition. At this point I had been pole dancing and doing Liquid Motion for a little over a year. I started this journey towards the end of my Master’s program and decided to continue after I graduated because of the great workout and friends I gained. All my fellow students and even the instructors at my studio, Dimension Fitness, knew Liquid Motion was my jam. So I signed up for Level 2 Junior Low Flow and Floorwork at PSO Central. I did everything right. I trained for weeks with an advanced student at my studio and I did the studio showcase as well. But I got dead last.

Disappointed, I waited for my feedback. I thought the judges’ comments would help me understand how to improve. At the very least, I had pictures and videos from my performance. When I received my feedback, it barely mentioned anything on my floorwork. I hated almost all of the photos, and I couldn’t even bring myself to look at the video. When I thought about competing again, it obviously didn’t come with positive vibes. So I took some time to think about it.

I thought about what I had to gain from doing this competition again – redemption. I want to be proud enough to look at my video and pictures and not cringe. So, not too long after I got home from PSO Central, I signed up for Great Lakes. I immediately felt this dread and fear like I was making the same mistake twice. This feeling stuck around for longer than I liked, and I started to allow doubts to sneak in. For PSO Great Lakes, I signed up for the Exotic category. While that felt more in alignment my dancing style, it wasn’t a perfect fit.

Meanwhile, my friend asked if I was interested in taking her place in a Liquid Motion Certification that she had already registered and paid for because she was no longer able to attend. After agreeing to my friend’s suggestion, I waffled on my decision to take the training because I had no desire to teach. Even going into the first day of the certification, I still didn’t know what I was getting myself into. How I would use this certification without teaching?

During the certification training, I got clarity on why certain things were difficult for me and others weren’t. For example, the wide hip pitch and prancing moves were very difficult for me. From the training, I discovered that my lower abs were weaker that I originally thought. It made sense that doing this movement for prolonged periods of time would be a struggle. At the same time, I began to see why shoulder rolls were easy for me. I seemed to have a better understanding of the pelvic tilt and tuck when lying on my belly compared to being seated. The overall Liquid Motion training experience definitely confirmed my suspicion that I should be in a floorwork-only competition and not a pole competition. But I had already signed up for PSO Great Lakes, so I continued to train the best I could.

After three or four training sessions, I heard that PSO had announced Great Lakes After Dark, meaning All Floor All Day. My heart fluttered at the news. I quickly switched over to the new category and worked on choosing a song. I sat down with Heather and we selected the perfect song. I strung together a couple of moves in my head and then recorded it. I freestyled to the song with and without shoes, recording both sessions. I decided on shoes because I liked the way it looked on camera.

And then it hit me. I needed to change my focus to what I wanted, not what I thought other people wanted. I started adding in moves that I liked and wanted pictures of myself in. There weren’t a lot of lyrics to the song I chose, but it kept repeating “hold me,” so I used that to create my theme. I wanted to become the girl the audience and a special someone wanted to hold and care for in an intimate way. So that’s exactly what I did. I sprinkled in a few tricks to keep people guessing and engaged, but even those tricks were still things that I loved.

The day of the competition came, and I was nervous. I started to mentally pick at things that were the strongest in my piece. I took my time working on my makeup, hoping to take my mind off what I was getting ready to do. In reality, I just wanted to get the whole thing over with.

I got on stage and the music started. All I could think about was breathing and lingering. Taking my time and basking in the moment, even when the move was very difficult for me. Connecting my breath to the movement really saved my ass at times! The last thing that kept popping into my head was keeping my tongue in my mouth and making sexy faces. I bowed and got off stage. Afterward, I immediately sat down and took off my boots, trying to catch my breath. I felt extremely proud of myself. I knew that I’d be happy to look at my photos and see my body move in the video.

In the end, the feedback was phenomenal! I received criticism in the exact areas I was looking for, and I cannot wait to explore and improve on my movement. Also, it didn’t hurt that my pictures and video were amazing. Most importantly, I felt redeemed. I was truly proud of myself. Furthermore, after training for what seemed liked forever, (in reality it was only 5 months) I felt relieved!

While I wasn’t able to take many Liquid Motion classes due to my schedule, having access to my licensed Liquid Motion online materials assisted me during this period. The most beneficial materials were actually videos of others using the #getliquid on Instagram; it kept me inspired and motivated to keep going even though I was exhausted.

So, would I do it again? I think so. If I could accomplish all my other goals while still training, I’d do it. But honestly, life is busy. It’s difficult to squeeze everything in. However, I also recognize the importance of getting feedback on my pole and Liquid Motion journey, and I understand that setting a personal goal like participating in competition is one of the more accessible ways for me to do it.

 

I Should Have Been a DJ (At Least, I Believed I Should Have) Part 2

By Krystal Bryce

Do you have playlist distress? What you need to first realize is that there is no such thing as a perfect playlist. At least not for every single student you have at one single class. Therefore it’s a good idea to stop trying to make that perfect playlist. Secondly, it’s not all about you. That one was really hard for me to swallow, and sometimes I still wrestle with it.

I mean seriously. It’s not all about me? Are you sure?

Yes. I am sure.

So if you’re not going to make the perfect playlist, then how can you at least get close? Let’s start with the beginning.

There is always a beginning, a middle, and an end to everything. This includes your playlist. Here are some good questions to ask yourself when you begin to put it all together.

  • What is my warm up going to consist of?
  • Will it be fast or slow? Perhaps a little of both?
  • How is it going to flow?
  • Lastly, how is it going to end? Will it end with a wild and exciting song or one they can all just melt into the floor with?

Furthermore, if I really want to go deeper, I may even choose a theme. Perhaps something like an all-female voice playlist, all-male or a mix of duets. An 80’s playlist. A playlist with just dubstep, rap, country, hip hop, or R&B. You get the idea. A theme. This theme can even continue on in the rest of your class. For example, if you decide to go with the 80’s theme then maybe you can add in fun 80’s clothing. You don’t have to go all out for this. It could be as easy as a headband or a leotard and leg warmers. If you don’t want to go with a theme, then be sure to mix it up so all genres get a little air time. This includes male and female voices. Look for opportunities to add in instrumental versions only. Sometimes people simply don’t need words to move.

Once you’ve decided how you want your warm-up playlist to flow, it’s time to start looking for your music. Some really awesome resources I’ve found are Spotify, YouTube, SoundCloud, and iTunes. I’m sure there are plenty more platforms; however I usually have more than enough music from all of these places that I really don’t need to look elsewhere.

If you get stuck and can’t seem to find the jams that hit the spot, then start looking online for people you know who share the same music platform as you. See what they are swirling to. See if they have any playlists they can share. I find people typically love to help out in this area.

Along those same lines, another place of great musical inspiration is social media. Find those dancers you love and see what songs they are dancing to. If it’s not posted, then use the Shazam app to snag it. Instagram songs are sometimes the best songs because you get to witness how someone else’s body has responded to it. Therefore this can help you discover the magic of variety. Plus, you don’t have to rely solely on your own opinion.

Use technology to the fullest. Network like crazy. Share songs with friends as often as possible. Throw all possibilities into a playlist. Leave nothing behind. Even if it’s something you aren’t very fond of. You may just be surprised at how someone else will absolutely love it.

After gathering your music, start to plan your warm up. Personally I change my warm up every week. I use my Liquid Motion movements to warm them and get them in the Liquid mood. It essentially becomes a twenty-minute Liquid Motion movement guided dance. I do throw in abs, pushups, planks and other conditioning moves as well.

Sometimes I write it out and practice, but most times I just go with the flow of the music. Either way, I’m still prepared because I know my playlist very well. I’m not saying this will work for you. What I am saying is, don’t be afraid to try new things. Look outside of the box.

To add to this, if you ever worry about your students getting bored, it’s usually a sign that you are bored and not them. It’s also a sign that you’re ready for growth. So try that new song out. See if something new happens.

Your beginning is now done. Next comes the middle. What’s in the middle? The teaching section. The part where you dig into the Liquid Motion movements and sequences.

This is where I usually have some low background music going. It keeps the energy moving. Here is where I would advise not to play anything really sad or dreary. This is where you want your students to be engaged and having fun. Nothing can bring a person down faster than one of those tear jerkers we all occasionally love to move to. Ask yourself what mood you want for this portion of the class. Think about your own demos as well. What makes your body move better?

Music plays a huge role in helping students find their flow. Having something prepared for this middle portion of class is a pretty big part of my planning. I usually write it out in my curriculum so I remember what song to play with what movement or sequence I’m teaching. This helps prevent me from picking a song that can totally kill the vibe. Plus I waste less time looking for music in the middle of class and use more time teaching.

Lastly, we have our ending, the conclusion of class. This is where the students get to try out everything they’ve learned. This is where they get freedom to explore it. I look for songs that are different each time. I rarely play the same song twice. I even try to space out when I use the same song between classes. I may only use a song one time and then ditch it. I give them variety. We are all different. Therefore we will all like different songs.

It’s important to allow for the opportunity to try on new music. Most people don’t do this for themselves. Often they don’t even know they might actually like a certain genre until you play it for them. Play it all and then some.

When the final song comes, I usually tend to go for something that feels meditative. This is where I have them cool down and stretch while I review with them the things they have accomplished. This is a time for celebration and for closure. Abruptly ending class tends to leave people feeling a bit undone. I find that closing in this way helps to set the mood for my students for the rest of the day. It also gives them something to look forward to for the next week.

Well, there you have it. This is not by any means all that I would like to share about music and playlists. There is so much more to it. I’m still learning. I will never again pretend to know everything there is to know about building playlists. However I know every day I practice building, I get better.

I would love for you to follow my playlists. They go back several years to when I used to teach for S Factor. I hope you find some music you enjoy. Mostly I hope you find something out of this that is helpful. Music is meant to be heard and shared. I hope you share yours with me! I’ll be looking forward to seeing some playlist posts on the Liquid Motion Certified Facebook page!!!

XOXO

Krystal Bryce

Spotify: KrystalBryce

SoundCloud: Charley Avery

I Should Have Been a DJ (At least, I Believed I Should Have)

By Krystal Bryce

Once upon a time, I thought I knew all the music that had ever graced our ears. I truly believed (with every musical note in my body) I was the only one that could decipher which song would make it to the top in every single genre. Once upon a time, I learned I was sadly and irrevocably mistaken.

My abilities to know exactly what people needed and liked to hear were not as superb nor as extraordinary as I had once concluded. It was shocking to my music-loving soul that me, myself, and I were not, in fact, the “All Knowing” nor the “Grand Poobah” of the music world.  Furthermore, not only was I totally and completely unaware of the vast magnitude of vocal and instrumental sound that existed in the world, but I was also unaware of what it would take for me to make a playlist that would please a classroom of 25 dance-hungry students. Little did I know.

My first teaching position was with S Factor Houston. I had just been put through the literal teacher-training ringer. We trained six days a week for eight grueling weeks. There were a total of six of us. We worked diligently to become the best possible S Factor teachers we could be. At the time, there was nothing else in the area to compete with. There was a lot of pressure to succeed, as pole dancing was a new experience for women and men to dabble in. The management and teacher mentors decided it would be best to start out by having us teach parties.  In one of my earliest parties, I remember playing music that I thought was FABULOUS!! Like drop your panties FABULOUS!! However, a party it was not. It lacked luster. People were frowning! I was mortified! I seemed to be the only one enjoying the tunes of Massive Attack, Morcheeba, and Portishead.

Now let me assure you, I had been told – more than once in fact – that the people coming in to dance at a party were not looking for music that wasn’t being played on the radio. They wanted familiar tunes. Music they could identify with. Music like “Pony” by Ginuwine or “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails. Now that was the stuff. It only took me one time to discover I had to definitely make it about my students. I’ve met people and talked to students who have left teachers because they didn’t like their music. We all know you can’t please everyone. Conversely, however, you most definitely can pay attention to what your students respond best to. This then helps you attain stunning playlist skills that keep them coming back.

I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned over the past 11 years of teaching sensual dance with you beautiful sensual people. Firstly it’s not as serious as some of us make it out to be. I can tell you that I am constantly making playlists. My journey for the perfect sensual, naughty, flirty, dangerous, scary, mysterious, grown and sexy, silly, down to earth, relaxing, awe-inspiring, chill-provoking songs never actually ceases. I start working on my playlists sometimes two to three weeks in advance. Right now you’re probably wondering if I take my own advice. I used to stay up at night worrying over the playlists I was making for classes that weren’t even on schedule yet! I don’t do that anymore. I promise. Even though it’s not that serious, it is part of who you are as a dancer and a teacher. It’s a part of your teaching signature. Your signature is what makes you unique. It’s what brings your students back again and again. Music can be a huge tool when making connections with others. How do you get a nice balance of your personal song choices as well as what others enjoy? Be on the lookout for the next Liquid Motion Teacher Blog to find out how I build my playlists every week.

XOXO

Krystal Bryce