When I started FreeStyle Friday I never imagined how quickly it would grow. The support from studios, pros and students has just been incredible. I am thrilled to hear from so many instructors and studios that have been inspired to start a FreeStyle Friday class at their studio.
A little background…
FreeStyle Friday started as a personal challenge to myself. I knew that my dance and fluidity was seriously lacking when it came to my pole routines. The only way I knew to get better was to make myself dance more and document my progress. I told my a few close pole friends about this personal challenge to help give myself some support and also accountability – knowing that pressure and expectation would help me get the job done. Fortunately these pole sisters were so supportive that they started doing it with me and so I decided to share this challenge with others in our pole community to see who else would join in…and the rest is history!
I am honored to see the support that we are getting from studios that have been inspired to start scheduling FreeStyle Friday practice into studio time. I never imagined that a personal challenge could bloom and become part of the weekly schedule at pole studios.
If you’re thinking about scheduling a weekly FreeStyle Friday class or jam session, I have a few pieces of advice to share:
One of the hardest things about free styling is the lack of structure and direction. Many students may be feeling this as they enter class, so I suggest giving them a jump start at the beginning of class. Start by asking them what they want to incorporate into their freestyles. You can brainstorm on how to work this into the class during your warm up. After your warm up you can explore some basic transitions and combos (and some variations) based off of what your students voiced. Often the Trick of the Week might be a great option to help get started. This will not only offer students a starting point but it also will help with getting all of their muscles warmed up and engaged.
My suggested format for FreeStyle Friday classes is that they should be minimally structured classes that are a blend of pole levels 2 /3 and Open Pole. This allows for a little bit of instruction and then plenty of free time for the girls to pole around on their own. Most likely you’ll have a group of girls at various levels skill wise, so its always a good idea to keep it on a level that everyone is comfortable with. It’s OK to put the FreeStyle Friday song for that week on repeat. (Students can tune in and out during warm up and initial instruction.) This will introduce the song to those that haven’t heard it and allow everyone to get a feel for the music and come up with some moves they want to incorporate.
When it comes to recording…
Give students 2-3 chances to record as a group but also encourage them to record individually. Often we may feel more comfortable recording as a group, but what can happen is is that we can stop focusing on our own dance and instead tune into what others are doing and mirror or try keep up with them. Or after the recording when we are reviewing, we often make the mistake of using that time to compare ourselves to those that we were dancing with/nearby instead of critiquing ourselves. It’s great to work as a group but I want to emphasize the underlying goal of personal growth.
You’ll also have students that are shy and won’t want to record. Encourage them, give them a little push but don’t force them and don’t single them out. Asking them to join you for class next week will make them feel more connected and encouraged…and maybe next week they’ll feel more ready. Also, you can let students know that it’s OK to record and NOT post. Just because they record that doesn’t mean they have to post. At the end of the day my goal is just for everyone to monitor their progress, identify what they do well and where to improve so that they can see their growth. Keep the recordings to themselves or sharing with instructors or FSF admin is quite all right.
Remind them of their options…
Options can sometimes ease the mind and help students relax enough to get through their dance. And I know from experience, once you get through that first dance, it gets easier and easier from there. So to help with this remind them that they are welcome to change things up in any way that works best for them. This includes skipping pole work and doing FreeStyle Floorwork, FreeStyle wall work and FreeStyle chair work (let them know they don’t have to be on the pole). For those that do want to incorporate pole work let them know that they don’t have to invert or do any hard tricks. Working on spin combinations or putting that often forgotten left side to work is always a great option!
Remembering to breath and hold their tricks is key. Let them know it’s better to do 3 tricks that they can fully extend and hold, as opposed to sloppily doing 6 rushed tricks. Less is MORE 🙂
Something else you can do is have your students switch poles throughout the song. This encourages more movement and variety in their dance. You can rotate them through verbal direction every 45-90 seconds.
Often the idea of having to make it through an entire song (especially when first beginning FreeStyle Friday) can be the element that holds students back from recording. So in this case let them know that they can dance the intro only or come in during the middle of the song.
I hope this information helps! If you need help setting up your FreeStyle Friday class or have any questions please let me know!