Congrats to the dancers chosen to be participants in Pole Art 2012: http://poleart.org/en/Participants
Among the competitors: Natasha, Oona, Phoenix, Anastasia, Pink Puma, Steven…guest performance by Jenyne! That is an AMAZING line up!!! So, who wants to take me to Sweden for the show???
Female Competitive Category
Anastasia Skukhtotorva, Russia
Laurence Hilsum, France
Maria Luz Escalante,
Natalia Egorova, Russia
Natasha Wang, USA
Oona Kivelä, Finland
Pheonix Kazree, USA
Polina Volchek, USA
Rafaela Montanaro, Brasil
Tracey Simminds, South Africa
Male Competitive Category
Evgeny Greshilov, Russia
Patryk Rybarski, Poland
Saulo Sarmiento, France
Steven Retchless, USA
Wilson Alexander Meija, Colombia
Ekaterina Romanova, Russia
Intellego Pole Company, Sweden
Michelle Stanek, USA
Pole Dance Theatre “TRASH”
Jenyne Butterfly, USA
Seriously, someone take me with you!
Well, that looks about right!
Kat is having one of her
famous infamous parties at Pure Delish on Saturday, July 7th! 8pm until ??? Kat’s parties are a blast – yummy treats, great shopping with DISCOUNTS, and the studio in back will be open, so there’ll be pole performances, possibly burlesque, and mini-teaser workshops (pole, twerking, etc). Dressing up wins you points – and higher discounts! See the flyer below for more details and RSVP on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/426302764081840/
I briefly met Roz the Diva at PoleCon, and naturally, stalked her Facebook fan page (polers make exceptional online stalkers, I think). As it turns out, she has an amazing opportunity for plus size pole dancers to perform/compete in her Dangerous Curves show! The link below has the details!!!
I LOVE THIS!!! There is still time to submit an entry – go for it, ladies!
I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
That’s the easiest way to describe the entire experience of what it took to compete in Pacific Pole Championships 2012. I had no idea what it would cost – not just financially, but across the board. Emotionally, physically…the time it took, the mental exhaustion…it was a crazy ride, but in the end, I’m proud that I did it. This post is simply my way of giving back to all of the gals who haven’t competed.
I’m in the unusual position of having competed without yet being an aerialist. Most competitions are for the upper echelons of pole dancers. PPC was different because it allowed every kind of performer to compete – the separate levels, as well as the separate categories, allowed so many performers to compete who would not normally be able to be involved in the competition. The categories and levels were as follows for the 2012 competition (text copied from the PPC website) - [please note that the categories and levels for the 2013 competition are different]:
I. Championship Event: This event is for those dancers wishing to compete with a traditional technical competitive program. Designed to offer competitors the type of experience found at National and International competitions, the focus will be on the dancer’s technique, flexibility, artistry and difficulty of tricks.
II. Artistic (Entertainment): This event is focused less on the difficulty of the tricks executed and more on the dancer’s ability to interpret a piece of music to provide a comical or upbeat performance (as opposed to a more dramatic and serious performance).
III. Artistic (Dramatic): This event is focused less on the difficulty of the tricks executed and more on the dancer’s ability to present a serious, emotional artistic interpretation of a piece of music.
IV. Freedance: Dancers will draw numbers approximately an hour before the event begins. That number will correspond to a piece of music chosen by the event coordinators. Dancers will then have an opportunity to listen to their music for a pre-determined amount of time before performing. Focus will be on the dancer’s improvisational interpretation of the music rather than practiced choreography.
COMPETITOR LEVELS (Self-Assessed):
I. Level 1 (Beginner): This is the appropriate level for true amateur beginners who have never taught pole dancing nor made any money from dancing. Dancers at this level are permitted to engage in floor dance, spinning moves, and climbs. There is no inverting at this level and hips must be below the shoulders at all times when the competitor is on the pole.
II. Level 2 (Intermediate): This is the appropriate level for intermediate dancers that have never placed in the top three in a pole dancing competition. In addition to the skills permitted in Level 1, dancers may invert, however dancers must maintain three points of contact with the pole while inverted. No release moves are allowed in this category. Pole dance instructors may enter this category.
III. Level 3 (Advanced): This is the appropriate level for the more advanced pole dancer, pole dance instructors, and those who have placed in other pole competitions. Dancers at this level may perform any tricks, inversions, or release moves.
Pacific Pole Championships offers the Artistic events for those competitors that are classified in a higher level than they feel their current skill level is at in their tricks, so that they can still compete but the judging focuses more on the artistic interpretations than the difficulty level of the tricks performed. Competitors that are found to be “sandbagging” (competing at a level below their actual skill level) will be disqualified from that level, so please contact competition organizers to avoid that situation.
In addition to these categories and levels, there were also provisions for ages, and I think for sex as well (although there was only one male competitor, and unfortunately, he was not able to make it into the country for the competition). Each level also had song length restrictions.
Because of all of these specifications, there were SO many performers in this competition that had never competed before. It’s a lot to undertake, especially if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into! I was SO lucky to have the help and guidance of other seasoned performers and competitors, like Kat, Drea, and Natasha. Drea in particular had a number of really helpful tips, which I will try to include in my breakdowns of everything.
I knew I’d have to train hard, and train more than once a week (my usual rate of taking class), but I didn’t know exactly *how* to train. I was using space at Kat’s studio in the back of Pure Delish, because she has a 45mm pole – the poles at PPC were 45mm, and I had never worked on one, so I thought it best to train as much as I could on that size pole (The Pole Garage had one installed a couple of weeks before the competition), and it took a lot of discipline. I had to run my own warm up, decide what tricks to work on, etc. When I started, I would simply go in and work on tricks I thought I might use in the routine, specifically working on holding the tricks for long periods of time to build up my conditioning – for example, I would hit a Superwoman and hold it for a 30 count, then do the same for a pike, etc. I would basically be doing a version of my class stuff in the practices, but not working much on choreography in the beginning. Early on, I had a rehearsal with Kat, where she helped me block out the opening 30 seconds of the routine, and while I would practice that, I didn’t work much on anything beyond it. After a couple of weeks, I met with Kat again, and she urged me to start doing only the routine in my practices, so I could build muscle memory – and to save the other conditioning and classwork type of training for my actual classes. We worked on more choreography, which I started to bring into class as well after her rehearsal space had to close for a couple of weeks due to a repair that needed to be made.
While in class, Drea helped me refine my static pole run, which I would practice in every class. She would give me small tweaks and feedback to incorporate. On my own, I worked on strengthening my spinning pole skills by borrowing my friend Claire’s pole and taking a spinning-only class at another studio, and I did my best to pick up extra classes when I could. In one great session with Mary Grace (another teacher at TPG), I worked on the 45mm spinning pole and discovered that my whole plan for spinning pole was not going to work, so I threw it out and worked on other ideas that I learned in the spinning-only class and inspired by moves I’d seen in YouTube videos.
I took extra classes and worked in rehearsal sessions, and I even worked on stuff at home, but I still didn’t feel like I had stuff set up well, even in the week before the competition. That week, I had extra classes, but I also had a private lesson with Drea, which was so helpful. She taped my run-throughs, helped me with tweaking things, and was generally so encouraging – which I really needed! My dress rehearsal with Kat did not go well – had an ugly cry – but I think that meltdown was bound to happen. The night before the performance, I took an hour and a half to run through the routine in our hotel room – miming the pole runs – and I think the repetition really helped for the day of the competition.
What I wish I had done was really take it to heart that my choreography needed to be locked sooner. This was a tip that Drea gave me, and that I had read in an interview with Natasha, as well as something Kat mentioned. They were all correct – I think that, had I locked it sooner, I would have had fewer slips and mistakes in the competition. The confidence of knowing the routine in and out would have been higher if I had locked the choreography sooner, too. That’s my advice to anyone looking to compete: start rehearsing immediately. Choose tricks that you know how to do already and do well – or that you’re very, very close to locking, and work the hell out of them. Don’t throw in something new or something you only nail 80% of the time. Don’t chance it. Choreograph early and be smart about what you choose to do. Kat’s advice was to pay attention to musicality, but not be so focused on it that it’s all you think about. Breathe and feel the music, but let your body flow, because if you try too hard to “hit” moments, it will come off as forced. It’s a weird balance.
Another miscellaneous piece of advice: get all of the elements of your costume together earlier, at least with enough lead time that you can rehearse in costume and work out any issues you may have. In my case, I bought two sequined bras in pink and purple, to match my stripes, and discovered that they could not be layered on top of each other because they did not have enough elasticity built into them. I ended up having to use one of my own bras on top of one of the sequined bras for the performance, which I would not have known that I needed if I hadn’t tried everything on a week before the competition. I also had ear issues – the original ears I commissioned were never made, which I did not find out until three days before the event. I bought a crappy substitute pair at a costume shop, only to discover that they did not stay on my head very well during the dance. I ended up not wearing any ears after the hair stylist at the event fashioned “ears” out of buns on my head (thanks!).
There is another reason I am taking a moment to mention all of this: I just watched a bunch of performances (some of which were in a competition) and it occurred to me that a section on costume woes was a smart addition. Something to keep in mind: while floaty, pretty tendrils of material at the waist can be beautiful, they’re also a pain in the ass to wrangle and can be downright dangerous if you’re in a layback or anything with a thigh grip. I have a skirt made of beads that is totally cute, but I have only worn it once because the beads get in the way and have to be wrangled – and wrangling your costume is not cute in a performance. I watched a doubles performance the other night in which the performers both had flowing tendrils of material from the waist, and one of them was visibly adjusting it mid-performance – not only is it often obvious to the audience, but it’s distracting to the performer, I’m sure. I know I was worried that my tail for PPC would get in the way, until I actually danced with one in rehearsals. So definitely try to get all of your elements with at least a week’s lead time, so you can do some dress rehearsals and have a little time to work out the kinks or get something new if you need it. If you want a costume element that could interfere with your grip, see about getting it made to be easily removable in the performance – if it’s something you can whip off, you can use it for flair until you need to use the grip areas it might block.
The Day Of:
First, the obvious: get some good sleep! Go to bed early, because you’ll probably have nerves and not be able to fall asleep right away – better to give yourself a chance to get a little more sleep by trying to head to bed sooner. In my case, we actually rented a hotel room at the location of the competition. It was both to make my day easier – my hair and makeup were so early that I would need to be at the venue REALLY early, which would mean getting up even earlier – and also to make sure that none of the “home distractions” would apply. I was up at 5:45am to eat breakfast and stretch before the rehearsal time began – my intention was to be one of the first in line to rehearse, without having to stretch/warm up, because I wasn’t sure how many people would be jockeying for space…and I wanted to be sure that I got a chance to test the poles before I had to go for hair and makeup. I was lucky enough to have a Starbucks in the lobby of the venue, so I grabbed some oatmeal and caffeine, headed back to the room, and stretched in the bathroom alcove while reading advice from Natasha on my phone. I headed back down to the space to rehearse and was third in the door! (Yay for planning!). This is where another bit of advice comes in: always, always give yourself more time than you think you will need. Hair and makeup were backed up, so I was backed up in getting into costume, and as a result…I almost missed my category! A friend sent me a text to warn me that I was MIA and needed, which had me running from my hotel room to the venue, with no time to finish my costume (I was missing stripes). On the plus side, I had less time to wait and get nervous, but I wouldn’t recommend being so late!! Other bits of advice: plenty of sleep, eat a solid breakfast (not too much sugar or caffeine), and keep yourself stretched and warmed up (leg warmers!) without overextending yourself and your strength.
As far as other advice, I had a huge list of things to pack, and they all ended up being important:
- All costume elements, which in my case were my tail, ears (which I didn’t use), pasty stripes, shorts, underwear, outer bra, and accent bra.
- Back up costume elements: in my case, I had an identical pair of costume shorts (in a different color), an identical back up bra (it was the same as my second costume bra – I wore two bras in the costume), and a spare thong. If I had been wearing shoes, I would have brought a spare pair of those as well.
- Double undies: I had my usual seamless thong for coverage, but I also threw on a nude g-string, on recommendation from Drea – triple coverage!
- Double-sided tape (I ended up using it to secure my under bra)
- Duct tape (I had hot pink – again, a recommendation from Drea)
- Safety pins of multiple sizes (I used one to secure the zipper on my costume shorts)
- All makeup and hair products I thought I might use if I had to do my own makeup/hair (i.e. makeup, skin products, hair spray, bobby pins, hair ties, hair straightener, etc)
- Warm up clothing: spare shorts, tank top, sports bra, yoga pants, slippers, hoodie, leg warmers
- Snacks: protein bars, trail mix, etc. Anything reasonably healthy that could be eaten on the run and provide energy.
- Back up music: in my case, it was required that we bring a cd of our song (and only our song was to be on it), but I brought a cd and a disc containing the MP3 version of the song, as well as an iPod. I also had the song on my phone, so I could listen to it with headphones when I was rehearsing in the room and stretching the day of the event.
- All props. Seriously. All of them. Make a list. Check it twice.
- Grips of your choice. On a side note, DON’T pick the day of the competition to try a new grip. Work it into your rehearsals/classes in the few weeks before your competition and see how you like it – you may get a grip and hate it, so don’t use your competition to try it out. In my case, I got two new grips in the weeks before the competition, and I ended up only using one of the new grips in the competition itself (along with my usual grip). Keep in mind that you may not be able to apply grip to the pole itself, so plan ahead and be comfortable applying your grips to your skin before you perform. If you need to give yourself time for a grip to work, plan for it – one of mine (Tite Grip) was an antiperspirant that needed to be applied about an hour before performing, so I had to remember to do it as I was getting ready, then add my Firm Grip spray to my contact points just before I went on stage.
- Something to wear from any rehearsal room or hotel room to get back stage, if you don’t have dressing rooms behind the stage (hard to know beforehand). I did NOT plan for this and had to run to the stage in a long cardigan and my boyfriend’s pajama pants, because I didn’t want to throw anything on over my head.
- Cash for tipping hair/makeup artists, incidentals, items available at vendor booths, etc.
- A camera if you want your friends to take photos/video – or ask them to use their own. My friend used my phone to tape me, while my boyfriend took stills – this was in addition to the professional photos and video that I paid for, as I wanted to see everything asap!
This can be measured in multiple ways. The obvious is the financial expense. For me, it was high. Really high, more than I thought it would be. I invested money in the following:
- extra classes/rehearsal time
- hair and makeup
- professional video/photos
- hotel room and incidentals
- a massage the week before the competition (to help my body heal a bit and be stronger for the competition)
- registration for the competition itself
The costume itself was more expensive than I thought it would be, mostly because I had no idea what I wanted to do for it at first. Two of my items were custom made, and I invested in back up pieces, so the money I saved by having a few elements that were already mine (or were given to me) was helpful. As far as the classes/rehearsal time, while I do have a pole at home, it is neither high enough, nor sturdy enough for me to have seriously rehearsed on it – it also does not spin and is a 50mm, instead of a 45mm. I used it for conditioning holds more than anything else. This necessitated using more classes/rehearsal time elsewhere.
I could have saved money by simplifying my costume; choosing to not get professional photos and video (or just choosing one or the other); doing my own hair/makeup; staying at my own apartment the night before the competition; not getting a massage, etc. However, being that this was my first competition – and who knows if/when I’ll ever compete again – I wanted to invest in as much of the experience as I could, which is why I paid for the professional pics and video. The hair and makeup were both so that I could look my best, but also so I could have an easy morning and not have to worry about doing it myself (which I’m not great at) on top of everything else. The hotel room was also to make my morning easier, and the massage? Well, I needed and deserved that. My poor body. I was in knots from the extra rehearsals, so much so that I was having grip issues with my hands/wrists.
So, while I spent around $1000 – yes, you read that correctly – I don’t think this is what you *have* to spend to compete. It just happens to be around what I spent, in the end. And, keep in mind that I live in the same city as the competition – there were women from all over the country that came to compete! Plane tickets, gas money, hotel rooms, etc…yikes!
My advice in this regard would be to really make sure you can afford to compete. Think about all of the elements – costumes, training, makeup/hair, video/photos, travel, incidentals, etc – and that stuff might come up that you don’t expect. I had NO IDEA that I would spend this kind of money on it. I never really thought about what I would spend beyond the initial registration fee and that I would need a costume.
There’s also the physical and emotional cost of competing. I wore myself down. I have odd work hours, which have me up very early in the morning three to four days a week. I was able to rehearse after work, but I was exhausted most of the time. The week before the event, I was taking naps in my car in between work and rehearsing – I even had to pull over one night on my way home, in order to take a short nap because I couldn’t keep myself from falling asleep while driving…and I was about a mile and a half from my apartment! Take care of yourself – eat better (eating well is my biggest challenge, always), sleep more, clear your schedule and treat yourself well. After each rehearsal/class, I would do an epsom salt bath, followed by Arnica lotion on my bruises, sometimes Ben Gay on my sore muscles – or Salon-Pas heat patches on my knots/sore muscles if they were really bad. I had Arnica pills (both the pills and lotion are homeopathic and can be purchased at places like Whole Foods) that I took every day, and a big bottle of anti-inflammatory pills for my poor beat up body. I also had a heating pad, which I would nap on, and I would ice my bum knee as needed (the knee brace was worn whenever I was walking around or on my feet for a while). I only had one really ugly emotional breakdown, once the exhaustion, nerves, and lack of preparedness caught up with me. So, if you cry, know it’s totally normal!!! I felt like I sucked – I was terrified of letting people down and disappointing the people who believed in me and invested their time in helping me. I was overwhelmed beyond belief…and I am willing to bet that I was not alone in that feeling! My advice? AGAIN: Be kind to yourself. Take time to give back to yourself – a night off to relax or do something that gives you joy – let yourself cry if you need it. Know that it’ll be all about the ups and downs, and that it’s totally normal.
In the end, it was an exhausting experience, but I ended up enjoying it after the fact. I do think that I enjoyed performing a little more because I am an actor, and performing is something I am conditioned to do, even if I was NOT used to performing pole. Whatever it is in me that knows how to do that kicked in and took over, which I think allowed me to let go of some of the mistakes I made mid-performance, at least within the performance itself. Something would happen, and I would accept it and let it go in the moment – there’s no other choice, really. You have to pick yourself back up and keep going as if nothing happened. I felt so much for some of the girls that went ahead of me, who were nearly in tears when they walked off stage because of a mistake they had made in their performances. Even with the mistakes I made – I had one slip that was super obvious, and I was too fast and had to improvise twice – I still understood that there was nothing I could do to change it after the fact. Sure, I beat myself up a little bit afterward, but it doesn’t do any good to dwell. So, my advice: get up there, give it all you have, and if there’s a mistake, pick yourself back up and keep going with a smile, let it go, and when you step off stage…do your best to accept it and let it go again. I placed third in my category, which is amazing – and it’s really due to one great score from a single judge. Honestly, I am not sure if the fact that I placed made me see the competition as more fun or not, but it’s entirely possible – however, even before I knew my placement, I found myself having fun as soon as I performed. The nerves beforehand got the best of me in terms of truly enjoying everything, but I did have fun being in the middle of the experience – the rehearsal in the morning and getting to meet some of the other girls, plus seeing the ones I knew; hair and makeup coming together; putting on my costume, etc. As soon as I was done performing, I had a blast and felt so thrilled to have done it. I was so proud of myself for getting up there and DOING IT. Seeing my friends waiting for me made it that much sweeter, too.
I guess that’s my last piece of advice: be proud of yourself for doing it. You committed to doing something that SO MANY other people would not have the stones to do. You put yourself out there, you competed, you performed, and no matter what the result, it took balls. It takes a lot of courage to get up like that, so be proud and own it.
This was really the first time I’ve seen higher level pole dancers compete. I was not able to stick around for the level 3 Championship round at PPC, so I didn’t get to see those performances (except online) – I saw some of the level 2 and level 3 Artistic Entertainment categories, which were great, but the Masters Cup was an entirely new sort of thing for me. There were group, doubles, women’s and men’s categories, all of which held something new and different!
(Note: I’ll try to update this post with links to the videos/winners as they show up on YouTube – not every video is available yet!)
The thing I came away with is how much of a challenge this must be for the performers! To choreograph a dance with 4 or more dancers, hitting everything in sync or reflecting/mirroring moves or even doing complimentary moves…wow. That’s a lot to take on, and every performer in that category should be proud of getting up there. Two groups had unfortunate technical difficulties during the show (one even had a performer not present because their flight was delayed!), but they still got up and performed, like pros! In the end, I think it was really interesting to see the elements that worked well and how certain things created a sense of unity amongst the performers on stage. Jag6ed ended up coming away with the title!
Again, much as with the Group Category, I have so much respect for what it takes to work as a team in a pole routine. What impressed me on top of that was how GORGEOUS the routines can be! When a pair hits their stride and is REALLY working together – not just doing the moves in unison, but working off of each other, feeding off of each other…it’s incredible to watch. It reminds me of watching the very best kind of acting scenes, which is one of the things I loved about it – it seems to double the power of the energy and emotion of the performances, so that you’re absolutely drawn to the stage. While Jennifer Kim & Sergia Louise Anderson were performing, I could barely take my eyes off of them and had to actively remind myself to keep checking the camera (more on that later)! I’m excited to see more doubles routines in the future! The winners were Nadia & Mina, by the way!
This was an interesting category, mostly because the women were all so different. Everyone had their own style, and when I talked to Courtney (who was also volunteering), she said her favorite performance was a completely different performer than the person I picked as my favorite. Some ladies took risks, some did more traditional routines, some had more flair, some had more grace, some had more emotion, some had more character, but all were super talented. The woman that ended up winning the category – Charlee Wagner – only had a year of pole experience. A YEAR. And she was up against some huge hitters – but she was amazing! The kind of amazing after only a year that makes me want to sit in a corner and cry about still not being able to nail my aerial pencil, but hey, good for her – not only was it amazing that she’s only been doing it a year, but her joy for the dance came through, and that was the thing I noticed more than anything else – she was having SO MUCH FUN. The performance I ended up really being drawn to was an unusual one, when put up next to the others in the category – very contemporary, with a lot of emotion behind it – congrats to Bailey Hart of Australia, for being so compelling that I (again) had a hard time focusing on the camera I was manning. While she didn’t place, I walked away remembering her name. This is her performance, which was one of my favorites of the night – I’m embedding it because loved it so much:
I had never seen men perform live, so this was a treat! The strength is amazing, but the flexibility blew me away – and the artistry is so interesting, because again, the styles are so different. I really loved getting to see when the guys either allowed themselves to be fully immersed in the artistic expression, but what made me even happier was to see when there was JOY pouring out of them, like when Derick Pierson performed. He’s friggin ADORABLE. Such talent and SO much joy when he dances. I loved it! And I have no idea how he kept his hat on THE ENTIRE TIME. Ravan took the title – he was a beautiful performer!
In the end, some of the groups/duos/people that placed were obvious picks, but some really were not, at least not for me. I think I just respond to certain things in certain ways, which is an interesting thing to realize, because I’m sure that’s also true of the judges. I recently received my own scorecards from PPC, and while they did not contain a ton of notes, the scores were wildly different in range. I had the highest single judge score in my category, for example – and it was 30 points higher than another one of my scores. I think that tells me a lot about the fact that people look for different things and respond to different things – I had positive notes about my lines and pointed toes from one or two people, but middling marks in that category from others, for example. Some liked my character and emotion, and thought I did well with connecting to the audience – others didn’t. I can only imagine it must be tougher at the higher levels!
As for me and my overall night as a volunteer, I ended up being moved from being an usher in order to man one of the cameras for the event. By switching jobs, I ended up with more responsibility – don’t fuck up the master shot of the performances! – but also had an amazing view: dead center, just behind the table section. So it was there I stood, most of the night. Very early on, I had an audience member complain that I was blocking the view (which I’m not sure I could have helped, since the camera was positioned for me, so I was not allowed to move it), so I spent the first few performances crouching, then spent the rest trying to blend in with a support beam/pole that was maybe 8 inches in diameter. As a result of having to man the camera for the event, I wasn’t able to take any personal photos of the performances, which bummed me out a bit. Still, I had an amazing view of everything!
Jenyne Butterfly was hosting – and boy, is she cute and kinda dorky (which she admitted up front, so I don’t feel like I’m labeling her as such). She’s SO tiny! Actually, almost ALL of the major stars I saw last night are tiny – as are the other recognizable polers, like the cast members of Girl Next Door. In attendance, I spotted a bunch of GND girls – some of them were competing – and a few of the Champions: Jenyne was hosting, like I said; Felix Cane was there to judge and also had a booth (all of the judges were famous polers, like Steven Retchless, Fawnia, Jamilla); Natasha Wang was in the audience (went up to say hi at the end – she gave me a hug and said she’d been trying to get our mutual friend to come, without success – I haven’t seen her in person since we went on the Haunted Hayride with said mutual friend a couple of years ago, before I started poling again). I also saw Becca Butcher from across the room and thought she was Zoraya, just because it was dim in the venue and she has all of that hair! I definitely got my geek-out on over the course of the night! However, the only famous poler I actually spoke to – besides Anjel Dust, who was producing the event - was Natasha, and that was really only because I have a previous connection to her and felt comfortable saying hi. I think I’ve lived in LA too long, where it’s usually taboo to approach anyone famous.
I did get to talk to some of the other folks working the event, like Joe from Alloy Images, who shot the photos for PPC. We talked about my pics and the photos in general for the event – he told me some great advice for making sure that you get good still photos (which was advice Drea also gave me, but it was awesome to hear it from a photographer). He explained that some of the performers that are incredibly dynamic to watch never actually hit their tricks – they don’t go all the way into them and don’t hold them for long, so the still photos are flat and not very clean, but the videos look great. The people who commit to the tricks and hold them (Drea recommended holding everything for at least a 3 count, so judges/audience can see it, but also for photos) are the ones that get beautiful stills. He also talked about facing (as Drea did) – he mentioned that a lot of the girls had beautiful jade splits and Russian splits, but they weren’t facing properly, so the view from the camera was all crotch and no extension of the legs.
The gal running the cameras was Suzy Q Williams, who has created the documentary Pole Life – we talked a bit about how she came to create the production and how she found pole, what it had done for her – she was super sweet and very helpful in giving me a crash course in how to operate the camera. I didn’t do much with it, other than turn it on and off, and replace the battery when it was dead, or swap out the memory cards when they were full – since I was the master shot, I just had a SUPER wide shot of the stage and had to make sure the shot stayed the same. (I desperately hope it didn’t look too bad – I was afraid to try to adjust it, so I left it alone after she set it up and made sure it was focused correctly.) Anyway, Pole Life debuts at the Vegas PoleCon in September, so if you’re there, check it out! There is a kickstarter set up for the film, so if you’ve got a few extra bucks, please consider donating to help fund the project – they’ve reached their “official” kickstarter goal, but every bit helps – I know that for sure! I think it’ll be an amazing piece!
I also got a chance to meet Lori of Confessions of a Twirly Girl! We’re friends on Facebook and follow one another on Twitter, and she had been in attendance at PPC – and gotten a few great photos of my performance! – but I hadn’t had the chance to meet her until last night! I hope to see her again at the Convention, which I’ll be at tomorrow – more volunteering!
I love all of this – I love seeing more of the pole world and how amazing it can be! I’m sure I’ll update more after the Convention, and I’m starting work on my piece about what it took to compete for PPC.
Just wanted to share my new temporary business cards for the blog! I ordered them specifically to hand out if I meet anyone at the Pole Convention, so I can continue to network and befriend new pole gals. Been talking with a friend about some exciting possibilities for the blog – can’t share much now, but love what is coming up in discussion. Spent tonight volunteering at the International Master’s Cup, which was so interesting – will blog more about it when I am not dead tired. I wasn’t able to take many pics because I was actually stationed on a camera for the event. :-/ But, it gave me a great vantage point of the performances! Okay, now…bed.
Here are some of the professional images, as well as a video of my performance, all courtesy of Alloy Images. Again, I took 3rd place in the Artistic Dramatic Level 2 category, and while my performance is not perfect, I’m pretty proud of myself for going out and doing it. I am starting to pull together the info for the post on what it took for me to compete and hope to have it done later this week – with volunteering at the Master’s Cup and the Pole Convention, it’ll be a busy week! Photos are up first (chose my favorites – there are a few that are nice shots, but I’m rather harsh on myself about how I look in some of them, so holding those back out of vanity :-P), video is at the bottom.
Last night in class, we started conditioning for handsprings – exciting and scary! Back in the fall, I started learning the original mount position for a twisted handgrip handspring, but I was not strong enough (nor flexible enough, although I am not that flexible now anyway) to be able to hold it or even really get into it with any ease. We were not at the place to begin the launch conditioning, but my instructor at the time (Autumn, who just had a baby!) just wanted us to learn what it felt like to be in that position. I’ve been conditioning twisted handgrip to go into aerial ever since, but haven’t revisited the handspring launch position since then. Drea brought it in this week, so we can start getting familiar with it now, even though most of us aren’t quite ready to go full aerial. She’s teaching us twisted first, because we’re all still conditioning that grip up on the pole – it’s the Jenyne Butterfly dead lift version of a handspring, I think. I was able to get into the position with a lot more ease than in the fall, and I could hold it for longer, but I wasn’t able to get up yet – whatever balance and strength it takes with the bottom arm isn’t conditioned yet. But, it’s conditioning I can at least work on at home – I can work on staying in the launch position to get used to it and doing little controlled hops to work on the core conditioning.
On top of that conditioning, I also have homework conditioning to do to get caught up on straight leg inverts – I am woefully behind on that (when compared to my fellow classmates, which I shouldn’t be comparing myself to, but whatever). Straight leg inverts have always bothered my back a lot – I used to have immediate pain from them – now, I can do a few, but either go home and feel pain that night, or all the following day. It sucks. I still can’t get up with straight legs, either – so, I feel like I’m hurting myself for no progress. It’s a source of a lot of frustration for me. Drea gave me baby step conditioning to do to work up to it, which is good – it’s just really upsetting that my body won’t do what I want it to do.
On the plus side, I was able to do the butterfly from the floor mount (as opposed to an inversion to get into it), which is something that I had tried once with Autumn, too. Last week, I hadn’t done proper stretching on my left leg to allow it – I tried to get into the position and whatever I messed up in my knee last year twanged hard enough that I aborted it without trying the trick.
In other news, I will be volunteering at the International Pole Masters Cup Championships on June 21st – I thought it might be neat to see what goes on at the event, even if I don’t get a chance to watch the show itself. I may be doing a second day of work/volunteering at the Pole Convention, but waiting to hear back on that – it would be for a vendor, instead of for the event itself.
And, best of all, I have a really fun idea for a pole-related item, which was cooked up with a member of a group of polers I chat with via Facebook – we’re looking to meet up about it next week, and I’ve enlisted my boyfriend for help with it. I would be SO EXCITED to get it off the ground!
I need to work on my PPC post and get it out sooner, as it looks like the photos/video may take a while – I finally checked in to ask about them, because I thought I would have received them by now, and it turns out that a lot of us haven’t heard back – we also haven’t received our scorecards (feedback on performances) yet, which I had forgotten about. So, I will try to get the PPC post done and up, then post photos and maybe video/scorecard when it all arrives.
Here’s a fun little pic from this week’s class – our theme was “Apron Strip”, so I brought the only apron I own (the front reads: “I keep the best snacks under my apron.”) and my “fancy housewife” rubber gloves that have fabric detailing on the ends. We are a silly bunch sometimes!
LA is hosting The International Pole Convention of 2012 from Friday, June 22nd to Sunday, June 24th, at The Los Angeles Airport Marriott, 5855 West Century Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90045. There are three types of passes offered: full access ($139), limited access ($99), and the Showcase to the Stars ONLY ticket ($40). There is no single-day entry pass, much to my disappointment – with PPC having taken up a huge chunk of my resources (still recovering), I can’t afford much in the way of extras when it comes to pole right now. Class is my priority, so it isn’t currently in my budget to be able to swing even the limited pass…BUT, I will be volunteering on Saturday! I’m excited to have the opportunity to help out, as well as the chance to walk around and explore the convention on my breaks! Most of the workshops with the pole stars are sold out – and they’re quite expensive – but there are some free/less expensive workshops available throughout the weekend, if you want to check them out! There are also certification programs available! I plan on taking some pics and updating about my experiences – and, yes, I still owe the PPC post about what it took to compete – I’m stubbornly waiting for my professional photos and video before I update (I’m also IMPATIENTLY waiting for them).
Also, Living Social has a great deal on tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s IRIS – nearly half off! Get them before the sale ends/they sell out! https://www.livingsocial.com/deals/371458?ref=conf-jp&rpi=64888830 I’m looking forward to going – with my new found admiration of silks and lyra, I am finding that most circus/acrobatic stuff fascinates me.
On Sunday, I went to my first Girl Next Door show at King King, to support Kat and Drea in their performances as part of the June ensemble. They both KILLED it – such different routines, both incredibly entertaining and definitely highlights of the show! I recommend checking it out if you’ve got the funds – tickets can be pricey for the good seats (the general admission leaves something to be desired – you either have to be first in line to snag one of the few bar stools or plan to wear comfy shoes!), but I hear there are deals sometimes available on discount ticket sites.
It was really cool to see so many different styles of performance, as well as the different themes, the different stage presence of each dancer, and how it all came together. There were a number of gals in the audience from The Pole Garage, and I know that the ones I caught up with afterward talked about how inspiring it was to watch! It was great to see so many familiar faces, by the way!
I took a ton of pictures with my phone (poor thing – 1,000 photos!) and edited them down quite a bit. I’ll post a few here, and once Kat & Drea put up their professional videos, I’ll post links to those as well! I apologize that I don’t have all of the names of the ladies below their photos – I gave my only copy of the program to Kat, so I don’t actually know the names of most of the gals. There are more photos of Drea and Kat for obvious reasons – gotta support my girls! – but I included at least one photo of each performance. Enjoy!
Monday was one of those classes where nothing was working how I wanted it to work. We were reviewing old tricks that needed polishing, as well as doing conditioning to improve existing tricks. The stuff we were focusing on is all stuff that I have never been great at, in large part because my body simply does not like it. My shoulders scream whenever I try the keyhole, and my back freaks every time I work on a fliptini. Still, I kept trying the fliptini, to keep working on conditioning the lift with straight legs. Didn’t stop me from being near tears for half of the class – it is so frustrating to want to be better, and know it is a long road, only to see the ways my body puts up a fight. I felt like shit for most of the class. I went back to working on some stuff on my own with moderate success – unfortunately, working on all of the conditioning and the tricks my body dislikes meant that most of my strength was gone by the time I got to my aerial conditioning. I barely made it through our free dances, too – I actually felt my left leg begin to give way at one point, which is a combination of an old injury from hiking that never quite healed, and the overall exhaustion from the class. I am paying for the conditioning today – my back has been screaming since I woke up, and it is clearly because I was working muscles that need to be developed. I think I hit a point of wondering what it is about my pole work that stands out, and therefore, I make the mistake of comparing myself to others – never helpful. So, it was an off night for me, possibly an off week. Happens. Hoping it isn’t another funk period/plateau. The last one went on for a couple of months, until I got strong enough to start getting the new tricks.
Show starts in half an hour! There might still be tickets available at the door! King King in Hollywood!
It’s really weird to not be training. I have no idea what to do with my time. My budget doesn’t really allow for me to go to more classes each week, and I’m notoriously lazy about doing pole at home (short pole, not that stable), so I really have been at a loss since PPC.
I ended up with a private class on Monday night, because every other girl in my night was out for some reason (it was Memorial Day, which I’m sure played a factor). So, Drea was great and helped me with a few different things – I totally kicked her in the face, which I felt SO bad about. I’d like to think I’m not someone who kicks people that often, but who knows – anyway, I felt terrible. I know she gets kicked A LOT, but still – you never want to be that asshole that kicks the teacher in the face.
I played with the meathook again, working on a hold technique passed along to me by Natasha – it feels better, but it’s hard (the entire thing is hard, though). My armpit grip is pretty strong, while my hand grip sometimes is not – my wrists have been acting up since I started training and aerial conditioning. I’ve never had the strongest wrists, but I had issues with my hands locking up while training – since then, I have only a certain number of solid grips to use each class. I’m hoping that it’ll get better over time. I worked on some shoulder mounts, aerial pencil, etc. I also did the crazy splay leg climb we saw at PPC.
I have class again Monday, but tonight I went to see Kat perform at Believe Fitness Studio in El Segundo. (I’m writing this post while my video of her performance renders on my laptop.) It was a Girls Night Out sort of thing, where new/prospective students can see performers of all levels/types, as well as have a few drinks, snacks, and shop a bit. It was super crowded, so while I got there early enough to get one of the “free week of pole” spots they were giving out to the first 30 people, I wasn’t able to get a spot in the room for the first half of the performances. But, I got to chat with Kat, and I was in the room for her performance, as well as an amazing doubles aerial hoop (Lyra) performance. I loooooooove watching hoop, and doubles routines are so interesting – I would love to be able to take pole, silks AND Lyra. Oh, Universe…please help me out with affording these classes!
Since I have three free pole classes at their studio, I’m taking advantage of the two that don’t conflict with my regular class, just to get some extra pole time in. The studio is SO FAR AWAY from where I live that it’s not practical for me to go down there for drop in classes, unfortunately.
On Sunday, I’m also headed out to support Kat – and Drea! – at Girl Next Door at King King in Hollywood. Tickets sell out quickly, so if you haven’t gotten yours, DO EET! Kat’s performance is going to be sick (it’s secret, but I’ve got insider info, and it will be MUST SEE), and Drea is always amazing to watch.
A few fellow Pole Gals started a little secret group on Facebook for some of us to chat, post videos/pics/questions, etc. I posted something today about a fitness challenge I saw online, and it turns out that a few of the gals are interested in joining in and keeping each other accountable! That’s great – I need that! I’m notoriously lazy.
I know I owe y’all a post about what I learned from PPC – and I promise to write it soon. There’s a slim chance it will be reposted or reprinted elsewhere, so I’ve been holding off until I can think of a good way to frame it before writing it. I did do a breakdown of what I spent – although, I think I lost the post-it I wrote it on (I am a post-it hoarder…it’s a side effect of being a list maker and random note taker) – and it ADDED UP. Holy shit. I did add in expenses that may not have been necessary to add, but still…wow.
Also, I’ll post some of the Alloy Images pics – and maybe video – from PPC as soon as I get them. I got all dorky and bought a Living Social coupon for a custom photo book, so I can get the photos printed in a manner that will keep nicely over time.
Oh, and the title of this post? Comes from the fact that Kat wore chaps in her performance tonight. It was amazing.
Here’s a cool, short video of Jenyne Butterfly doing some Lyra and pole: