I had my first ever pole competition on Saturday (05/07/2019). As always, I had to be extra and I competed in 2 categories: doubles and instructors.
I’ve been wanting to compete for a while now but due to different reasons it hasn’t happened. I chose a song and started choosing moves for it a year and a half ago but unfortunately due to messing up my shoulder and wrists I didn’t do it. Then I completed my pole instructor qualification last July meaning I have to compete in instructor’s category now so I was gonna just leave it. Around November time I started thinking about it again. Justina, the owner of Swingdon where I teach wanted to do a Christmas showcase and I did a doubles performance with her. We put the show together in 4 sessions and I quite enjoyed it so decided I will compete at Miss pole dance UK semi pro – or at least apply for it and as I can’t dance I won’t get in but then I can say that I’ve tried. Well, I actually got in…
I started training for my solo in December doing comp work once a week but then we decided with Justina that we’ll do doubles together too. There was no audition for doubles so we just applied and got in. We started training for it December/January time. I found it really hard to train for my solo so I focused on the doubles and just general training with the occasional solo comp prep. I had to do a 2 minute routine by the end of March which I struggled with but eventually on the last day managed to record 2 minutes of part tricks/part freestyle to submit. As it was really sloppy, I even got a message in the middle (phone vibrated) I had no doubt that I didn’t make it. I also wanted to apply for Heir to the chrome because that’s a reputable comp and isn’t crazy far. I had to do a full routine for that but again had no stamina or even choreography to do it properly. I had an OK run through on the last day, then turned out my phone didn’t record it properly… Luckily someone came to the studio meanwhile and she recorded it with her phone on the floor. I ended up submitting that. To my biggest surprise I got in to MPD UK! As expected I didn’t make it to HTTC but they gave me some valuable feedback. From here I tried to have one run through at my routine once a week and tried to finish the choreography. I couldn’t spend time specifically working on as my attention span just reverted back to training normal tricks… I really struggled with stamina… I changed a lot, took bits out, added things on but never managed to finish it with enough time…
4 days before the competition I had a final run through in front of the MVPA team and listened to all their feedback and we tried to add some little bits in that doesn’t cost energy, fits with the theme and doable. Even then at the last try I was still 15 seconds short… As it’s a solo I can always style it out with something so I didn’t worry too much about it. Well, I did but as it was too late to make it any better I just thought I do what I can and see what happens. Not exactly the best preparation or mentality but I didn’t expect to win with it, I just wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and I definitely did it. I never danced in my life. Never been on stage. Never put a choreography together. Never linked moves for so long together. My stamina is rubbish. I can’t see without my glasses. My routine is different – VERY different… But as the pole community is generally so supportive I thought why not, I’d only regret not doing it later, what’s the worst that could happen.
I messed up a move on stage that I can do with my eyes closed – I messed up a shoulder mount split catch… Some of the transitions weren’t smooth at all and ended up facing the wrong way at the end with the scorpio handstand. I was again a bit short so just freestyled out the ending and it worked out fine. There were random people coming up to me congratulating!! Someone said ‘it was insane!’ I didn’t even know how to react to it as I wasn’t expecting it.
The biggest takeaways for me are to make sure each move flows into the next and is intended. Look at the audience more, get them involved. But all this requires a lot more effort than what I put in. A lot more run throughs with doing it in front of others. Great learning curve and I’m glad I did it. Being on stage is a completely different feeling to anything and until you do it, you’ll have no idea what to expect. Luckily the audience was brilliant, they were cheering and clapping and even tho my routine was so different, I felt accepted. My biggest obstacle was putting it in my head that as it’s different, people won’t know how to take it and they won’t enjoy it. But I’m actually pretty proud of what I did.
Would I do it again? Maybe. I don’t have any dance background, got 0 body awareness and I’m just generally awkward. But I did something different, hopefully was a bit of a breath of fresh air between all those serious contemporary performances and I loved people’s reactions so you never know. There is a song in mind that I’d love to try to do something with so we’ll see:)
And of course I did my doubles performance with Justina. We started working on it December/January time and it took priority. We trained once a week. The hardest was coming up with a theme and basing the moves and the feel of the routine around it. We came up with American pie as the main theme and then added Romeo and Juliet and Scream later on. We watched American pie and Scary movie at the studio on a projector which was a good experience on its own. We chose scenes from the films that we wanted to recreate. We really wanted to do the scene from American pie 2 where Stifler gets pissed on but really struggled with it. We also applied for another competition that we didn’t get in and their feedback was useful in the sense of taking that scene out lol.
Each week we changed something, improved the moves and pieced it better together. Once we made the decision to take out the pissing scene the rest of the routine slotted together really nicely. We spent a lot of time working on our acting to make it funny. We didn’t just want to perform a routine, we wanted to create a light hearted piece that’s entertaining, fun to watch and will make people laugh.
We even asked someone to be our human prop at the end to go the extra mile and create a story line. There were so many hurdles along the way that I’m really happy with the end product. Working with someone else and trying to have the same vision is hard. You need to agree on all ideas and make sure that it works for both of you. I wasn’t 100% happy with a part at the end of the routine that we took out the day before the comp and never ran it again! Rookie mistake… We didn’t realise just how much time it took up… Also when we ran it at the studio, we didn’t use the actual costumes all the time so when getting changed it was a lot different on the day than when we practiced it before.
Apart from the obvious – don’t change your routine the day before without running it and practice with actual circumstances (costumes, distances, diameters and makes of the pole) I also learnt it the hard way not to put one handed moves at the end… I tried to do a phoenix which I can do without any real effort but my hands were so slippy by the end that it just slid right down… Also not to put moves in that I can’t do every single time. I can handstand and walk in there but only about 9 out of 10 attempts…
All in apart from the mistakes I made and messing up the timings I am really proud of what we did. We came up with 2 moves that I’ve never seen before and did some really hard stuff. We made people laugh and had strangers come up to us congratulating. We won best tricks and best entertainer and came overall 2nd in doubles category. Secretly I’m glad we didn’t win so we won’t have to do another routine for finals in October (the day before we’re due to fly to Mallorca pole camp…). We will be working on another routine and got another competition in mind we’d like to do. Now we just need to agree on what theme to do next:)