Moves fade into and out of vogue–one that has seemed to get a lot of requests of late is the teddy, aka teddy bear, aka bicep hold, aka armpit hold. Most dancers will agree that until you “get” it, this move will HURT. It will make your inner biceps burn and bruise, and you will want to cry during and after practicing it. But here’s the good news: once you get it, it’s actually a fairly simple move that looks 100% BADASS. It will look like magic is holding you in the air. Hooray!
So how do you get it? Try these tips:
- Back skin is important when you’re first doing the teddy. You want pretty much your whole back available for gripping, from just under your bra to the top of your outer glute. (Note: that may require you to pinch your shorts down a bit from the top.)
- Keep your hips in front of the pole. The pole will be close to the middle of your butt longitudinally. Get as much back skin onto the pole as possible.
- Twist/tilt your torso and shoulders slightly in order to get your shoulder and arm behind the pole. Don’t let the back skin come away from the pole!
Now. The bicep grip.
- When you first learn to set up for this grip, bring your arm all the way up and around, rotating your shoulder in the socket like you’re pitching a ball. You’ll start to make contact with the pole somewhere on the middle of your inner bicep. As you continue to move your arm down, that skin will catch the pole and start to grip. Yes, it will hurt. Be brave. 🙂
- As your arm comes around and down, it also needs to cross over your body. This will lock the grip in, and you should feel your entire body raise up slightly. That tells you that your grip is solid.
Finish it off! You’ve got your bicep grip locked in, and you’ve got plenty of back skin to support the bicep grip. Now all that’s left is to lift your legs into a V! To do this, use your catch arm, which should be firmly locked onto the pole and crossed over your body. Lift your leg until you can hold your thigh. Test your grip: do you feel like you could lift the other leg too? Yes? Then you’re there, just do it! No? Go back and make sure you’re making contact in the right places and try again.
As with most moves, the teddy will have a sweet spot for you. Experiment with your position and see if you can find yours. When you do, your biceps will no longer feel like they may simply remove themselves from your body, and you’ll be able to hold the teddy for as long as you want to hold it. Once that happens, you can play with leg position variations–do a tucked hold, or a piked hold, or stag legs.
The picture below is of me getting the teddy solidly for the first time in 2010. I was super excited. I’m sure you can’t tell.