Learning new tricks in pole can be intimidating, right? You got your whirly-wind up go backwards kind of tricks, go upside down and bend your foot back to your head king of moves… ok I really don’t know if that’s a move since I am only in intermediate but what I can tell you is I was terrified to attempt the forward and backward somersaults. Reading this you’re probably thinking, “Oh, girl, somersaults?? It gets way more intense than that.” Yeah, I know, but that doesn’t scare me – I am anxious to hang upside down for the first time; call me batty! So let me give you a little back story on how I ended up with this silly little fear.

I was in the 3rd or 4th grade when it was determined I have scoliosis – a stupid excess curvature of the spine. It came as no surprise to me as it’s a hereditary symptom and my mom has it, my uncle has it, as well as every other one of my siblings and each case is different for everyone; in this case, only my uncle and I have it really bad. By the time I reached the 4th grade my dad and mom drove me down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to be fitted for the Copes brace and learn how to achieve success with their 5 year program; no dairy products – unless from a goat, no potatoes or any carby/starchy food, follow a specific workout video daily, walk on a stair stepper while staring at vertical lines with your head in a harness, “shock” your muscles with electricity currents ‘strategically’ placed along your spine, OH, and do all this while you’re wearing a hard plastic corset-style torture device designed to make you sweat constantly and incapable of taking a lung full of air (OK, designed to lessen the curvature of your spine, but I’m dramatic, alright?). Yeah, it sucked as much as it sounds. Fourth grade, pasta was my favorite food! But I’ll digress because I’m not here to talk about that crappy year of my life – yes, I refused to continue the program after a year, I was too headstrong and stubborn to listen to any of it and be miserable for that much longer.

An example of the brace described

Anyway, it all just leads up to my reasoning. Growing up I was a very active child doing cartwheels and somersaults and running around and whatnot only to find out that wearing the darn brace, I couldn’t somersault anymore! I got as far as rolling onto my shoulders and then I’d just stop in the air and flop to the left or right like a dead fish. I even had a sleepwalking episode where I tried to somersault in my brace, but it just ended in sadness and a bruised foot. So, I never did somersaults again, but I did try about 7 years ago and it ended pretty much the same way – unsuccessfully.

Fast forward to my first few months in pole classes at Aerial Dance and then one day my instructor enthusiastically exclaims we are trying somersaults! Basically my entire childhood just flashed before me and that self-doubt crept in real quick! It took some time to get the nerve and I used the pole as an assistant, but I was able to semi-successfully execute a somersault! Learning the slight difference of going over your shoulder and not your neck made a drastic change in my ability to face my struggles and be OK with continuing to perfect the maneuver on my own. So, baby, I ain’t scared anymore!

Summing this all up, you too, other Scoliosis Girl, can be an aerial artist. Don’t let those voices inside your head tell you otherwise, and understand that you have great instructors and moral support around you at Aerial Dance. Take the journey one step at a time and just know you’re going to rock it! Maybe my titanium rod fused back won’t let me bend as far back or forward as other girls, but maybe I can and I don’t know it. Just like I didn’t know I could still do somersaults – but hey, maybe if I just stay headstrong and stubborn that I CAN do these things, I’ll see just how far I can bend without breaking.