By Cinnamin Herring
A few months ago, I invested in my first portable, free-standing fitness pole. I imagined adding additional elements of depth and emotion to my dances through interaction with the environment. Sure enough, I got what I bargained for with my new stage pole! Every location has an effect on my dance, but natural environments have been the most exciting challenge. The variables are endless with weather, light, stability, and accessibility being the most prominent considerations. From water on the pole to heat making it difficult to separate parts, there are elemental challenges all along the way.
For this dance, I packed up my pole and headed toward the coast of NC. After I got to my lodging destination, I started brainstorming possible scenic locations that might work. Since I was on the coast, I hoped I could get a beach scene. However, a little bit of thought and exploration convinced me that it was an unrealistic goal which would require more work than I wanted to put into the project. The ideas I explored all came to a dead end. So, I settled into the obvious - that I probably would not get to do a video on this trip.
Meanwhile, a day before my scheduled departure, a couple of phone calls by my dear sister got us access to a tranquil pond scene. With a key in my sister’s purse, and a pole in my trunk, we drove to a neighboring county under dark clouds and thunder. It was approaching golden hour - about six o’clock in the evening. All we could do was hope the weather would clear long enough to safely erect the pole and get the dance done.
When we arrived at the location, thunder still rumbled. I would not put up the stainless steel lightning rod unless the weather improved significantly. With faith that things would work out, I put the stage together. A few minutes later, the sun peeked through the clouds, and it was showtime. I put up the pole and warmed up. It had been a few days since I could work out, so I was hoping I had the stamina to make the routine good. My heart rate was wild with cardiovascular enthusiasm, and my muscles felt tighter than usual. Eventually, my heart beat slowed and I noticed tiny rain men dancing on the pond. They landed like warm kisses on my shoulders, urging me to dance before it was too late.
The music I choose for each dance is another critical element. If I try to dance when the music doesn’t move me, it just feels like a work out - and that’s not what I want for these videos. Additionally, the mood of the weather and scenery can call for something different than the song I’ve chosen ahead of time. Ultimately, I have to get the right song. For a week, I pondered over a song for this video, but I couldn’t seem to settle on one. Presently, I’m obsessed with David Gray’s album, White Ladder. So I finally chose My Oh My.
Before I started the dance, I applied grip to my hands and the pole. I knew it couldn’t work magic with rain, but I trusted it would at least get me started. About halfway through the dance, the sprinkles that fell during my warm up returned. My body knew to do what I could before the grip aid failed. About halfway through the dance, I was on my own with no grip aid remaining on the pole. My body and mind went into problem solving mode as I held onto the mood of the music and continued dancing. How would I finish my dance without any grip? With no answer, I let my body take over and do what it could to get through.
Somehow I made it to the end of the song without it becoming too obvious that there were problems. And when the song ended, the sky fell. As warm rivulets raced down my bare body, I took the pole and stage apart one piece at a time reflecting on how things went. If I had started the dance even a minute later, it would not have worked. With my heart still beating wildly, I devoured the humid air around me and listened to the swishing waves of blood that pounded in my ears. The song reverberated through my body as I drove away from the peaceful pond feeling truly alive and grateful.