Sorry/Not Sorry!

Sorry/Not Sorry!

Posted by Claudia Choi on 24th Jul 2017

I taught a class a couple of months ago where the students kept apologizing for every mistake they made. It puzzled me because I thought they were making great progress, but all they saw was failure.  There are times to be sorry and there are times to just move on. Too many sorry's diminishes both your statement and its meaning.

Sorry!
Life is messy. Traffic sucks. Sometimes you just can't make it to class on time. As an instructor, this is frustrating because late arrivals upset the flow of class and take away valuable warm up time from you.  You don't have to publicly flog yourself or give a long winded explanation as to why you were tardy. A simple and genuine, “I'm sorry for being late” while going straight into the warm up should suffice.  Just don't do it again!

Not Sorry
I hear this in every class. I demonstrate a move, someone does it incorrectly and then they mumble, “I'm sorry.” Why are you sorry? Because you tried something totally new and didn't do it right? Don't apologize for making a mistake. This is part of the learning process. Instead of expecting perfection, see the incorrect movement as a clue to what you can change the next time. Can't get your feet off the ground in a spin? Perhaps your hands are too low, you aren't engaging your back and lats or your butt is too close to the pole. If you want the most out of your instruction, don't apologize for your movement, instead ask why you ended up moving that way. Saying you're sorry negates what you just did. Own it and use it to further your learning. The next time you fail when trying a move, see if you can change your script. Instead of “Sorry”, try “Can you tell me why I fell out of my Ayesha/feel unstable in my brass monkey/can't invert without jumping?” The teacher can then address specific issues in your movement and you can use your time in class more effectively.

Sorry!
I've been kicked in the face, elbowed in the head, had my nose broken and had to catch people as they were falling out of a trick. These are the hazards of teaching complicated movement. If you hurt someone, sorry is totally appropriate. But you should also know this happens pretty frequently, so don't go overboard. One heartfelt sorry should do it. Just remember, these injuries most commonly happen when the student hasn't listened carefully. I always give a count before I spot. “We'll go on three.  One, two...” and most of the problems arise when someone just goes for it before “three”. Listen carefully, remember that there is someone in very close proximity to you, and apologize if you happen to hit them accidentally.

Not Sorry
“I'm sorry, but can you go over that again?” Don't apologize for making a request. I think women are trained to do this because otherwise we sound “bossy”. Here's a question: Why is “bossy” a bad thing? Damn straight I want to be the boss! Your requests are legitimate and you should never belittle them by saying you are sorry for asking for what you need. That being said, your instructor has every right to turn you down. Maybe she just demoed it four times in a row, maybe she is injured, maybe she feels that you just need to try it. But she should always honor the spirit of your request by explaining, spotting, or asking someone else to demonstrate. If the teacher (or anyone) makes you feel bad for asking a question, it's time to find someone new.

Sorry!
Pole takes concentration and effort. Sometimes we get so lost in figuring out our own moves that we forget we are sharing space (and equipment) with other people. Did you walk in front of someone as she was videoing herself? Did you swipe a fellow student with your heels during a group free dance? Were you practicing a move so much that you were hogging the pole you were supposed to be sharing? Apologize and try not to do it again. It's that simple.

Not Sorry
This happens in class and online constantly. “Please excuse the rolls/wobbly bits/unshaved legs/bony ass/back fat.” Hey, you just did an incredibly difficult trick that most people could never dream of doing! You are upside down holding on with just your inner thighs! You, my dear, are a badass.  Do not take anything away from yourself by apologizing for the way you look. Those meaty legs make it possible for you to grip the pole. Sometimes we think that by apologizing for what we perceive as a fault will stop people from criticizing us. False! Judgmental jerks don't change because you apologize.  Instead you just downgraded your accomplishment and made someone else with the same issue feel like they need to be sorry as well. There are so many reasons our bodies look the way they do: pregnancy, illness, genetics, a fondness for fried chicken over protein shakes. These are all valid and you should never apologize for how you look. Your body did something amazing—celebrate it!

Here's the takeaway. Go out into the world today. If you make a mistake, say you are sorry. And don't say it for anything else. Take up space, ask questions, try new things and don't apologize for any of it!

Bio: Claudia has been poling for over 10 years and has been an instructor at Jayvee Dance Studio in Alhambra for 6 years. She loves her students - they inspire and motivate her and make her laugh every day. She trains at studios all over Los Angeles. instagram: lilkittychoi