Drills to Improve Your Freestyles

Ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut, dance-wise? The music comes on and you pull out the same 4-5 moves over and over again?

On the one hand, it’s great that you’ve mastered a few tricks or fillers and you know how to work them.

On the other hand… this gets boring fast, for you and for your audience.

Here are a few “prompts” to get you mixing up your freestyles that I’ve picked up from other teachers (both pole and belly) over the years.

1. Try a choreographed routine to totally different music

This is a great “toe in the water” approach to shaking up your movement. You don’t have the pressure of thinking of what to do next, but different music will force you to reinterpret your moves, adjust phrasing, and maybe even get a little inventive with new fillers or transitions. You’ll find yourself putting a whole new spin (heh) on a tried and true move.

2. Pick a body part

Elbow, foot, head, chest, arm, even hair–pick something to focus on and accent with throughout your freestyle. It’s amazing how thinking about something as small as your fingers can open up your usual way of dancing and approaching moves.

3. Pick an adjective (or verb, or noun, or mythical creature)

Favorites from my classes are “heavy,” “sleepy,” and “drunk” (see a theme?) but we’ve also done crazy stuff like “sea witch” or “spider” or “swimming.” This is a great way to get yourself moving in new ways without being too self conscious about it. You’re in character!

4. Pick an emotion

This is another way to play with choreography or a sequence you already have down. Try dancing it with elation, then sorrow, then fury, then jealousy. Record yourself. Can you see the stories of those emotions coming through?

5. Make a trick list

This is another good one to catch on video. Make a list of 4-5 tricks (they can be simple poses or complicated sequences), then put on a song and try to get in and out of all of them as gracefully and naturally as possible. Pick a new song and try again. How do your transitions look? Did you find yourself entering and exiting a move the same way? Was the style and/or emotion the same for each trick both times?

6. Get someone to yell at you

No seriously: grab a friend and pick an alternating theme. Floor work vs. pole? Flexed feet vs. pointed? Bent knees vs. straight legs? The possibilities are endless. Put on a song and ask your friend to call out the “switch” in regular intervals. Whatever you choose (ex. flexed feet) you have to maintain that until the change is called out.

7. Choose a handful of moves to repeat over and over

With 3-5 basic moves, experiment: how different can I dance these with each repetition? Practice getting in and out of those spins, climbs, and transitional moves with a different style, intention, speed, or shape every time. This is another great one to catch on video–if for no other reason that to see that what feels like a big change to you can read very small.

Do you have a favorite freestyle game or prompt? Share below!

2 Comments

  1. Here are a few. We’ve done prompts for years – so helpful! Will be stealing some of yours.

    Wear pants
    Touch the pole at all times
    Undress
    Wear all one color
    Wear a blindfold
    Focus on the audience
    Touch the chair at all times
    Dance with a partner (WITH)

    • Oooh, I love these! Pants is a great one… whenever we have freestyles in class people are so keen to start climbing and inverting almost immediately. Pants really keep you in “dance” mode and out of trick mode. Love it!

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