For many, a positive perk of pole and aerial is that this artform can come with the coveted opportunity to perform. This urge to take to the stage may ensnare all,
whether that be beginners fresh to classes, and professionals with many years experience alike. Your mind may wander to competitions, and how they provide this
platform within the community, but they simply aren’t suitable for everyone. In lieu of competition, where can we look to next? It’s showcase time, baby!
Let’s delve into this a little further – here’s five reasons to prove that if you aren’t holding a showcase at your studio, you, and your student base, are missing out big time:
1 – Give Your Students Focus – We know how easy losing training motivation can be. Sometimes, all that it takes is skipping one or two sessions in exchange for a
sleepy evening on the sofa, and that’s that. The will to attend the studio fizzles away faster than you can say ‘Fonji’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate for rest, but we all know consistency is also your friend when it comes to levelling up your aerial game.
Now, in my own experience, the best routines to take to the stage are around 70% of the things you absolutely can do, and 30% of the things that you need to nail first (as
a rough estimate). Pushing yourself to learn, or neaten up, some new tricks and movements is absolutely wonderful and will help to ‘wow’ your audience, but realistically, you want to showcase your pre-existing talents as priority. In other words, play to your strengths, but challenge yourself to throw in a wildcard or two.
This is a winning formula to tease your students who have fallen off the wagon back to classes. The aim isn’t to force new things that can overwhelm or are too
challenging, it’s about celebrating the unique skills of each human who comes to your studio. For some, especially those without previous performing experience, the
challenge could be to pole for a whole two or three minutes, or even getting up in front of others in the first place. After a fun evening of sharing their best tricks – or no
tricks at all, the beauty of showcases is truly all styles are welcome – to a cheering crowd of their peers, they will be back in classes in no time with a new lease of training life.
2 – Showcases Bring Students Together – So many studios nowadays offer such a wide range of classes – which is such a wonderful testament to how much our pole
and aerial community is growing. Think of your timetable: you might have Trapeze on a Tuesday, and Pole Flow on a Friday, with a whole different set of students that attend each – and they may never, ever cross paths.
Of course, this is totally unavoidable. Someone focusing on levelling up their Hoop game is unlikely to ditch their weekly tricks class to drop-in to a Spin Pole session. But wouldn’t it be nice to factor in a little time for your students to meet some fellow like-minded students, without having to compromise their personal training regime? You might guess what I’m about to say – that’s right, showcase! The wonderful thing about organising this kind of event is that it doubles up as a studio social, too.
Let’s take a step back in time to baby Lottie, to a time when even doing a pole seat in front of someone else made me feel a little nervous. Part of those nerves I can
retrospectively see rooted back to feeling ‘not good enough’ to execute my skills in front of others. Providing a showcase space and encouraging your students to come, even if they don’t want to perform themselves, creates a conversation. They can enjoy the hard work of their peers from the security of the crowd, whilst also seeing
for themselves how much of a safe space these showcases can be. Your performers will be a positive role model to the audience members, showing the rewards of ‘getting up and having a go’.
3 – Friends and Family Join the Party – Our friends and family can see dribs and drabs of what we do when we disappear to the studio for hours at a time, but there is
certainly an air of mystery to the aerial arts. Misconceptions and misinformation is rife, with questions ranging from ‘I’m not flexible, can I do that?’ to ‘I’m not fit enough, I won’t be able to join in, will I?’. Those of us indoctrinated into the aerialist way of life know the answer to these queries of course – there’s no such thing as being too inflexible, or too unfit to join the club, that’s why you come to class, to learn. But those are just words. They’re quite easy to say, but often, people may not believe them.
By hosting a showcase at the studio, you have the unique opportunity to invite people along in a non-participatory capacity. They don’t have to dig out their gym kit,
or choose a discipline to attend – they are coming to watch your wonderful student base do what they do best. Sure, the majority will come along simply to support their loved one – which is also absolutely wonderful – but who knows, you might plant a seed of inspiration in a budding prospective polers mind!
4 – Everyone Can Get Involved – Inevitably, you will have students who do not want to take part in your showcase. There may even be a majority who don’t fancy it, and only a handful that do (if that happens don’t panic – rope your instructor team to do a couple of performances and you’ll be grand). But that doesn’t mean it’s exclusively an opportunity for those who are routine ready.
Every event needs pole cleaners, a videographer, photographer, stage hands running the performer roster. Advertise roles to your student base to be part of the show even if they don’t want to perform (of course, for small in-house shows it may not be possible to offer payment, but you can always call it a skills swap – a free ticket to watch for their time). This will ensure more even people can feel included and welcome, without the pressures of routine creation. Getting to be part of the show without actually taking to the stage might just give that nervous student the nudge they needed to take the plunge to participate with performance at the next event.
5 – Providing Non-Competitive Performance Opportunities – Competition is a magnificent, much-loved institution within our pole and aerial community. My own journey truly flourished once I partook in competitive performance. But taking to the stage for the first time is frightening, especially as an adult who hadn’t performed since primary school plays nearly twenty years previous.
Your showcase can, and should exist as a place for your students to explore their inner performer before taking on the additional pressures competition can bring. At the start of the show, give your audience a jovial reminder that they are to cheer for everyone, regardless of whether they know them or not. You want to create an atmosphere that will either give the students all the spotlight they need, or encourage those that want to try competing all the confidence they need to take the next step. Think positive and encourage positivity. Remember, this is your studio, and you make the rules!