Sex, lies, and videotape: on watching yourself

“A personal project like anyone else’s personal project. Mine’s just a little more… personal, I guess.”

Wouldn’t it be funny if you were dancing in front of James Spader, and he kept exactly that expression on his face the whole time?

Mmm, James Spader. But that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about videotaping.

And the lies we tell ourselves about how sexy we look.

(See what I did there?!!)

Concern for my sex appeal wasn’t the reason I started taping my dances. Actually, it was pure, primal fear of getting fired.

I’ma keep it real: when I’m training, I usually stop 5 or 6 times per song to curse, make faces at myself in the mirror, and instant-replay anything I screw up. I also take regular breaks during a song to booty pop at random, scratch, and think about life while languidly drinking water.

This is not acceptable during classes.


(Educated guess).

Anyway, this a problem! Because a huge part of all of my classes is the “review” portion, where students monkey-see monkey-do their way through a continuous, full length routine… and I’m the one leading.

It’s hard enough remembering which moves to do (only those from that week’s curriculum) and which sides I’ve done them on (left and right need equal practice!) without stopping to think. But then there’s the whole “talking everyone through the routine as I physically do it” aspect. IT’S RILLY RILLY HARD, YOU GUYS.

I figured I better scare myself straight on the stopping thing, so I got a tripod to videotape my dances with. Just to mind-fuck myself a little. I wasn’t really planning on watching myself.

But watch myself I did.

Friends, here’s what I couldn’t unsee:

-Confused, bored-looking facial expressions (I think they were meant to be sexy?)

-Speeding up my walk right before I attempt a trick (so much for the element of surprise)

-Walking exactly three steps right, then three steps left before every trick (yawn.)

-And best of all, for every one handed spin, I saw myself balling my free hand into a fist and scrunching it against my chest while spinning.

HAWT. I don’t know about you, but I find nothing more aesthetically pleasing than a dancer who looks sleepy and developmentally challenged.

The good news: taping yourself, as painful as it may be, can be huge helpful for diagnosing (and treating) the following problem areas that make for a lumpy, awkward, DEFINITIVELY UNSEXY PERFORMANCE.

You can do better, children. So be brave and tape yourself! I guarantee that after you stop crying, the following areas will improve:

1. Spotting and eye contact

It’s easy to forget while you’re in the studio, but your dance should be directed at someone. Aiming your performance–even at a camera–should remind you to flirt, angle your body toward, and spot your spins on an audience. Or one person. You minx, you.

2. Flair

No, we’re not talking about the pins in Office Space. “Flair” in pole dance is that je ne sais quoi that lets the audience know you’re conscious while dancing. Hair flips, hip swings, touching the pole, running your hands along your body; all of these little moves go a long way toward a hypnotic performance.

3. Form

You know how you hear “point your toes!” in class all the damn time? Now you’ll see why–IT LOOKS GAWD AWFUL WHEN YOU DON’T. While you’re at it, arch your back too, and stop looking at your shoes.

4. Flow

Are you a pole noob? I guarantee that this is what your dancing looks like: 1. walking around the pole excruciatingly slowly 2. triumphantly blasting through two or three spins 3. freezing 4. walking around the pole excruciatingly slowly 5. repeating the sequence from step 2.

Then comes the best part: realizing you’ve used a mere 32 seconds of a four minute song.

If nothing teaches you to pace yourself while dancing, the agony of watching yourself do this on tape will.

5. Cheating

Oh, you thought I wouldn’t notice, did you? You thought you could just hop a little to get higher on the pole and sneak in a little more spin time. NBD, amirite?


Watch it on tape–a little “jump” completely breaks your flow, and is the angel of death to your spin momentum. Watch it and weep, cheater: you fool NO ONE.

So talk to me. Do you hate watching yourself on video? Do you keep the really embarrassing stuff to learn from, or delete it right after?

My proudest video moment: I caught it on video that time I was doing an extended sitting spin and whacked my foot on a bookshelf. I of course stopped the video and saved it immediately.

Speaking of dance vids, if I get brave enough, I’m thinking of posting a few tutorial vids in the near future. So if you’ve got any form or technique questions, or specific tricks or spins you’d like me to cover, let me know!

Meanwhile… U mad cause you don’t have a video camera? Want me to pick on your bad habits for you? Come to a class, yo!

Until next time…

Happy twirls!


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