In my dance class, we jokingly call it “The Orgy.” In “mature”, sophisticated, enlightened speak, it’s called, “Energy Play.” Energy Play is one of my favorite parts of freestyle pole dancing. I first learned of energy play during my 10 day dance immersion with Sheila Kelley S Factor in New York. Each day our instructor gave us exercises that challenged our inner awareness but also our connection with others. We might be used to connecting with the person we’re giving a lap dance to or the audience who’s watching our performance, but what about connecting to the women dancing all around you?
I should preface this.
The process of an S Factor class goes like this.
1. 40 mins to 1 hr of sensual yoga/pilates warm up
2. 15 to 20 mins of pole time where you learn a trick, spin, invert, combo or something.
3. Freestyle dance either to whatever you want or to the theme of the week.
In step number 3, one girl is the “main girl” dancing. She gets to dance on any pole she wants. She gets to direct her energy to the person sitting in the chair and the instructor is mainly watching her to provide feedback. While she’s dancing, two to four other girls are dancing in the background. They’re warming up and doing their thing. Once the music stops, everyone rotates. Girl number 2 becomes the “main girl” that the teacher is mostly watching. She’s dancing for the person in the chair and the class rotates. There is always one main girl dancing, someone sitting in the chair and a few other girls dancing in the back…warming up.
The main girl gets a section of the room to focus on. This consist of the person sitting in the chair and perhaps 2 to 3 of the poles in the room. My teachers always establish though, that if the main girl wants to dance around the entire room, its cool. She’s the main girl. So if you’re one of the girls dancing in the back and she happens to come towards your pole, you dance yourself out of her way. When she dances her way back to the front of the room, you can dance your way back to the pole that she commandeered.
What happens though, is that some of the main girls aren’t dancing towards your background pole so as to get you to move out of the way. They are dancing towards that pole, to dance WITH you. It’s what we call “The Orgy” or “Energy Play.” Sure every now and then they throw their focus to the person in the chair waiting to receive a yummy lap dance but sometimes the main girl wants to dance with the other girls dancing in the background. What happens is magic. Without planning it, without choreography what you see is a seamless flow of energy and movement between two or more women. You see a conversation whether it be playful, aggressive, suggestive or absolutely crazy.
I recently wrote in a letter to a friend about how this all works. When I told him how much I’d been pole dancing, he said “Guitar is my pole dancing.” My response was….
I love, “Guitar is my pole dancing.” I’ve been dancing a lot lately. I danced at a birthday party and am in love with the pictures. I wish there had been video. I danced and stage managed and video taped a pole benefit too. And even just last night a friend of mine paid for a “private” where she brought three of her guy friends to come watch her pole dance at our studio with a teacher sort of monitoring it. And she asked me to dance with her. Sort of like freestyle energy play. Um...I guess in your speak, if you invited a few friends over just to have a jam session. You have no clue what you’re going to play or what’s going to happen but you feed off each other’s energy and create magic. So we do that in pole. We’ll play songs and one minute we’re dancing by ourselves and the next we’re dancing with each other, against each other, over and under and beside each other. Certain people you jam with better and certain people you’d never invite over to play. She and I for some reason are great with each other so it was a honor that while doing this special performance for her friends, I got to be a part of it.
Do you understand energy play now? Its like a band’s jam session except with poles and dancers. As mentioned, some people don’t flow well together in energy play. Some people just don’t connect. But when you find a group of women who you can dance WITH, its awesome. This is different than putting on a song and everyone dances in the same room on separate poles and such. You’re just in the room together and you know there are people around you but you’re not interacting with them and conversing with them. In energy play, you are deeply connected to the other dancers in the room, through eye contact, physical touch and unspoken conversations.
Unfortunately I can’t find a SINGLE youtube video that shows this. Sure there are TONS of videos on youtube with multiple girls dancing at once. But I don’t know of a single video that shows energy play. It takes it to a whole other level.
Have you ever experienced this?
If this still sounds foreign to you, here are a couple exercises to try.
1. Have two girls dance together and the object of their partner work is that they must always maintain eye contact. They can dance however they want, move however they want but no matter how they move they must always maintain eye contact. See what happens.
2. Have two girls partner up. One girl is at the pole and the second girl is leaning against a nearby wall. The girl that’s at the pole leads the conversation. Through movement she is to explore certain themes or emotions like, “Aggression”, “Sultry Siren”, “Coy”, “Fuck You”, “Joy” and as she’s dancing these emotions TO and WITH the person leaning against the wall, the person leaning the against the wall moves organically in response to her. When the first person on the pole has danced what she needed to say, they dance their way into switching. The girl doesn’t just stop, walk to the wall and watch the other girl. If she’s already on the floor, perhaps she slithers and crawls and passes the girl, maybe even slightly touching her as the other girl crawls towards the pole. Never stop dancing and as much as possible maintain eye contact.
Those are two examples that I can think of that promotes energy play.
Do you have other examples? Why do you think this matters just as teaching tricks, inverts and lap dances?
*** As of May 2013, I am no longer affiliated with S Factor NY and can no longer vouch for the quality of your experience. But if you like recommendations on any other pole studios, please shoot me an email. I love praising quality companies that offer a great service and practice sound business while empowering women in all aspects.