Monday, March 19, 2012

Pole Workshop With Ms. Natasha Wang

Another wonderful opportunity came my way, this time in pole fitness. Polecats Manila brought to the Philippines a very good friend of theirs, US Pole Champion 2011 Natasha Wang for a series of pole workshops. I knew that I would be crazy to let this opportunity pass so I just had to join at least one.

Natasha Wang is a pole fitness/dance instructor and performer based in Texas. She got into pole out of curiosity, just like most of us did. She started doing pole last 2008 and began competing in 2009. You could read about her journey to pole here. Before her workshops, I watched some of her videos in Youtube and I was just wowed at how perfect and clean her lines were - pointed toes, square hips during splits, and all those our teachers would drill us about.

Also, her inverts are very much controlled and cleaner - no stepping on the pole, no flexed feet - straight legs and pointed toes going straight up and over. It was hard to believe though that she absolutely had no dance or gymnastics background. As some athletes start early in their lives juggling school and training, Natasha started her journey in pole in her 30s. That fuels hope in most of us who started pole late in our lives or those with no dance or fitness background. As she said in her blog, "I came into pole dancing purely by accident."

The day of the workshop came, I was excited the very moment I opened my eyes. This is it!!!! I still had my bruises fresh from a pole photoshoot but I was like, "GO!!!!" It's a pole weekend so let's fill it with pole love. And I am so not going to be late. Just to let you know, I took the Pole Dance Technique class, a class for both beginners and intermediate students which focuses on pole fundamentals and mastering your moves. I chose this class because I wanted to improve my lines and technique. As my teachers said, it's not just learning how to do the trick or to get there. We should all get there safely and prettily, the same way getting out of the trick too. I wanted also to take the Get Off The Floor workshop. However, I saw the requirements. It required basic invert (check!) but basic headstand and handstand? I have none of that yet. :P

After introductions were made, we started the lesson with of course, a warm-up to limber out the joints and avoid injury. When our joints were warm, we first learned a new and pretty side climb that looks very clean and elegant. Natasha first demonstrated the trick (which got us all inspired) then broke it down as to how to do it. The trick looked like a closed leg hook spin but it's a side climb. Since it was a new trick for most of us (me, of course) it will hurt at first, with shin bruises to prove it but yes, with enough practice with Stevie, I know it will get prettier and better. The best part about it is that the arm placement shall not cover your face, which is good especially in performances and competitions. We also learned a new technique to make our spins look fast, big, and pretty. Whether it be the super basic fireman spin up to the very badass reverse grabs and one-hand angel spins, it looked so much prettier from the new technique. We all took turns practising it as we were 20 in a class.

We also learned a new trick, called the Teddy plus several variations of it. The teddy is like yogini which entails gripping the pole with your underarm and part of the skin on your torso. It really looks very pretty and once we master it (and conquer the pain), we could do another variation of it called the Teddy pike, like this one in one of her photos:

The inverts came next and she taught us a trick that I really love - doing the gemini (or as others may call it, an outside leg hang) all the way up the pole. The challenge here was to recover on your bad side. I can do the gemini on both sides, yet I couldn't recover on my other side though. Now this sets me a new goal: to get up from gemini on my bad side and to air invert with maximum prettiness, stretched legs and pointed toes. Game? Game!

One of my favorites is a transition she taught us. It looks like a handstand, which was pretty easy to do and easy to modify but looks really fierce on picture. She even guided us on a trick we have a hard time on: the caterpillar. I love how encouraging she was in our class. We may fall, fail, or grimace in pain at first but she encourages us to still try, praises us when we accomplish the trick, and corrects us on certain points that need improvement. This is an international pole dance champion with us, and she's so nice and humble and super patient with her classes.

With body pains and all conquered plus new tips and tricks up our sleeve, the class ended but not without handing over our certificates and a photo-op too!

Yay! It truly was an experience, one of those I'm glad I took and something I'll never forget. It was wonderful meeting and taking a class under a pole dance champion. I learned new things and I loved my sport more - bruises and body pains included.

Thank you so much Polecats and thank you Natasha Wang for taking time out of your busy schedule to teach us here in the Philippines. I hope to meet you soon again, either taking another class, in a shoot, or watching one of your performances. You inspired me a lot to do really well on the pole more.

Pole love is awesome!

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