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Dancer with open arms arches back towards the audience

Are you a “dancer”?

I always struggle with this question. I didn’t grow up dancing or moving or playing sports. I came to pole later in life with a bunch of “wacky body stuff” that made it really hard to progress or even to feel comfortable moving.

My great aunt on the other hand, loved to dance! Even when her body no longer permitted her to dance on her feet, she was always moving in her chair to the music. Her husband, my uncle, didn’t like to dance so she danced with her girlfriends at their senior citizen outings as much as she could. Even though she had no formal training, she considered herself a dancer and whenever I would show her my pole videos, she told me that I was “living her dream” of being a “real” dancer.

Labels? Love them or hate them?

What I’ve found in myself and from talking to others about their opinion (sometimes I like doing on my Instagram) is that sometimes labels like “dancer” or “artist” give power and sometimes they take power away or even put too much pressure on the person receiving the label.

Some people really relish in the idea that they are a dancer—it fuels them and makes them happy. Other people say that they aren’t comfortable with that term at all, that “dance” is just something they do, and it doesn’t define them like a label tends to define a person.

Still others talk about how they were dancers as children, often following a dance style with a clear progression like ballet, who have rediscovered a joy of dance later in life through pole leading them to reclaim the mantle of “dancer.”

With regards to pole, sometimes I prefer to practice the dancing part of pole and sometimes I prefer to practice the tricks part of pole. Can you be a “dancer” and an “acrobat” at the same time?

Make your own definitions

Whether or not you consider yourself a dancer; does it matter? Can you just “be” and do without a label or a goal. Can you just dance if you want to do? Without a competition or performance to prep for? Or do you like having structure and definitions with clear roles and responsibilities?

These are important questions to ask yourself. Try and find the meaning that makes the most sense to you in what labels you choose to share with the world. And if someone else applies a label to you—especially one you aren’t comfortable with—ask them for their perspective on that term. Maybe their definition will surprise you!

❓ what do you think? Are you a dancer or not? And more important does that label matter to you?

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