Pacific Pole Championships 2012
Whew! This is going to be a crazy long post, so strap yourselves in and be prepared to have your butt numbed! I’ll pick up where I left off on the day before the competition:
After arriving early to the hotel, we had a lot of time to relax and do whatever, so we explored the hotel itself, then ran out to get food for my boyfriend (I had eaten what we’re called The Forty Dollar Salad, because with room service fees and whatnot, that’s about what we paid for my lunch/dinner right after we arrived). Upon our return to the hotel, he was such a good sport and cleared out of the room so I could rehearse.
Let me tell you, I did NOT want to rehearse. I mean, I DID, because I was so nervous and felt terrible about where it was all at, but it was like pulling teeth to get me to do it. 🙂 Still, I set my stuff up and ran through it over and over again in the space next to the bed. With no pole, I focused on improving the floor work (read: sticking to the same moves) and strengthening character. I did that thing you should never do, which is add choreography. Whenever I would get to the pole runs, I would mimic the movement while laying on the floor (or whatever was closest to the move itself). I spent about an hour and a half doing this, over and over again, as well as looking up Cheshire Cat quotes (the actor in me wanted some character analysis). By the time my boyfriend came back, I was ready for bed, and he blessedly went to bed with me – a good 3 hours before either of us normally goes to sleep. 🙂
I slept okay until 2am, when I woke up suddenly and decidedly. Nothing but strange dreams after that, but when the alarm went off at 5:30am, I dutifully got my ass up by 5:45 to get started with the day. First order of business: head down for food. Stopped in the lobby Starbucks for some oatmeal and caffeine (yay Iced Chai Latte!), then realized it was still too early to get into the venue to rehearse, so I went back upstairs to the room and proceeded to do some warm up stretches while eating and checking my phone…in the tiny hallway to our bathroom, so the light wouldn’t wake up my boyfriend. At 6:25am, I headed back down to the venue and was the third girl in the door to rehearse. It was interesting to see everyone trickle in and begin to stretch, then slowly gravitate toward the poles. 🙂 I would venture to say that polers aren’t often on the poles at that hour of the day!
I stayed at rehearsal until Kat showed up, then we ran back up to the room so I could shower before hair and makeup. She came down with me to the rehearsal room, which is where hair and makeup were being done as well – such a good sport! My appointments took longer than I thought only because they were already backed up, so we got back up to start the rest of my costume later than intended…which meant that I was LATE to my category! (Thank you to Bonnie for that message, telling me to get my ass to the stage!) By then, Kat was wrapping up the last elements of my costume, and my friend Amanda had arrived to see me as well – she and Jarad were documenting what they could with various phones.
I ran to the venue, entourage in tow (teehee – that just makes me laugh). By the time I got there, there were only two girls left before me, so I actually didn’t have that much time to be terrified. I ran my routine in my head, moved around a bit – because standing still just meant that I was trembling, so better to move with purpose – and put on my grip, of course! I did some stretching and breathing to get centered, and next thing I knew…it was my turn.
Stepping out on that stage was something else. I’m an actor, so I know what it is to be up and have to perform, but there was a moment as I walked out that I very nearly burst into tears from all of the energy I was carrying with me. I really do think that the actor in me took over at that point. There was a moment before I went out, as I stood beside the stage, that I often have just before I do something I’ve worked on or do something where I have to jump right in…it’s a very clear moment of pulling out of my head, looking at the space and saying, “Fuck it. Let’s do this.”
By the time I sat down to start my routine, that part of me had won out over the crying part – thank god! I don’t remember the entire routine, but I remember pieces:
*realizing as I looked into the audience during my opening choreography that people were watching me – and that I had locked eyes with some poor guy, because I made the choice to disengage so as to not throw myself off AND not freak him out
*After my opening spin, realizing I was early to climb and improvising a bow to fill time
*Very much remembering the first piece of choreo that I added the night before, which was my second bow from up on the pole
*The terrifying-as-shit slip of my anchor hand while getting into my jasmine – I caught myself right away, but it scared the shit out of me. STILL – I kept going, and recognized in the moment that my only choice was to continue as if nothing had happened
*Knowing I wasn’t facing properly for my pike, but continuing anyway
*Slipping as I came down off of the spinning pole after my first spin and having to do my best to cover for it – I flat out fell the last six inches, I think because I rushed it (I certainly had no problems with it in any rehearsal, but adrenaline kicks in and you never know what will happen!)
*Realizing that the spinning pole was slippery enough that I didn’t think I could cllimb as high as I wanted to climb, so getting into what was to be my finale move – a plank – and realizing I had most of the final chorus left in the song…and having to improvise! The next two moves were things I’d considered for choreo, but not really rehearsed much. I’ve done the Scorpion maybe three times ever, and that splay from the plank came from a move I saw Zoraya do – I had been playing with it in practices, but took it out for time.
It was SO quick – the entire thing was so much faster than I expected, and when I was done, I was just happy I hadn’t totally and utterly fucked up. I felt good, despite the mistakes I caught – because, naturally, my brain picks out THOSE things to remember, instead of something beautiful. People were so kind when I got off stage, which was very much appreciated!
I threw on my makeshift cover up (my long cardigan and my boyfriend’s pajama pants) and ran out to find my friends. I feel like an idiot describing their reactions, but fuck it: they seemed so excited and were telling me how awesome it was, because they are awesome friends. Kat, who has been helping me with choreo and costume and other such stuff related to the event, gave me a really honest review – that, when I left our dress rehearsal on Thursday, she would have said I wouldn’t have placed – but watching my performance in the actual event, she thought I had a real shot. (And, for the record, I wasn’t offended – she’s right about that rehearsal, and I well knew it.)
We sat and watched the end of my category, as well as some of the category after mine (Level 3 Artistic Entertainment – excellent, hilarious performances!). I looked up to see Bonnie, who was announcing the morning performers, looking at me. She was so sweet and sent me a lot of love right then – I have to say, it was such a good feeling to know that there was so much love in the room. Between her, my friends, and the other gals from The Pole Garage that were present, as well as the strangers that reached out to give me support or compliments in passing, it was a friendly room. Anyway, after watching for a while, Jarad, Kat and Amanda insisted we go out to see if the results had been posted. I was more in favor of avoiding it and being happy with being done and having performed well overall. However, I went over with them and found out that I had placed third!
They were so excited – Kat had the responsibility of texting Drea, since my phone died – and we got photos of the ranking sheet/scores. I’m still a little, “Oh my god, really?!?! That’s so cool!!” about it. It was secretly my hope – I didn’t think I’d ever take first, but I really did just want to take third. 🙂
There was a whole lot of other stuff going on at that point, including us having to check out of the hotel, and me having to get the Medal Ceremony and winner photos taken care of before I ran off to my audition – oh, yes, I think I forgot to mention that I received a notice of a commercial audition right after arriving to the hotel on Friday, originally scheduled for 10:30am on Saturday. I called my agents and got the ok to arrive by 1pm, so I could try to get out of costume in time to be there. With Amanda driving me, I ripped off my lovely stripes, wiped off the face makeup and lipstick, and removed my amazing glittery false eyelashes. I still looked insane for the audition – I had no makeup remover powerful enough to take off the stage makeup, so my eyes were still in Cheshire Cat colors (at stage intensity). I put on my glasses to try to block some of it from the camera. I also had no clothing with me at the hotel that fit the bill (corporate boardroom), so I did my best in hot pink ultrasuede platform heels, a black cotton skirt, a white tank top, and my long teal cardigan over it. I must have looked ridiculous! But, eh, fuck it – they’ll like me or they won’t. I showed up, which a lot of actors wouldn’t have done in the same situation!
Amanda took me back to the competition afterward – Jarad had gone to meet friends, and Kat had other commitments – so we got to hang out and watch some more performances. It was a lot of fun to see so many different styles! It was such an interesting lesson in what works well, how personality can come through, etc. We got to see our fellow Pole Garage girl, Erin, perform – she took second in her category! (Overall, the ladies of The Pole Garage did well – 3 out of 4 placed in their categories, and everyone did PG proud with the strength and beauty of their work – way to represent!)
One of the things I really loved about the event was seeing all of the different women – ladies of all shapes, sizes, ages, looks – and how each one brought something different to their dance. I love that pole can be so inclusive to so many types of people, and it was SO much fun to watch the various performances! I also want to point out that the group was really supportive overall – people I didn’t know came up to tell me that they liked my performance, and I know I grabbed performers in passing to compliment them. I loved seeing moves I hadn’t seen before (seriously, Miyoko did something that I can’t even break down mentally, but the three of us pole gals in a row gasped when we saw it). I feel like this was SUCH a rewarding experience on so many levels, and that it was a truly beautiful way to be introduced to what it is to be in a competition. Thank you to Amy and Bayleigh for creating the event and running it smoothly!
Over the course of the day, I received messages from all manner of friends, family, acquaintances, etc, wishing me luck and congratulating me on the results! I don’t know that I could recall each and everyone one of them, but every message meant the world to me. THANK YOU!
I’d also like to take a second to send out some special love and thanks to Drea from my pole home, The Pole Garage, for the time she spent helping me over the last few weeks – her advice, guidance, and instruction really helped me and had a major impact on my routine and the day of the event. More love and thanks to Kat of Pure Delish for her belief that I could do this, her endless support, and all of her ideas – she choreographed the opening 30 seconds and helped me fine-tune the entire routine, AND she helped me pull together my costume. Speaking of, thank you to Xotic Eyes for my bitchin’ Cheshire Cat stripes (custom dyed!) and Happy Hoodie Friends for my custom made Cheshire Cat tail! I also owe a big thank you to USPDF 2011 Champion Natasha Wang for her helpful tips about my routine! Thank you to ALL of the ladies at The Pole Garage, for not only the love and support, but also putting up with me crashing your classes for the last two weeks, so I could get in extra rehearsal time (We celebrated in my usual night with Champagne and Cupcakes – and, naturally, a lap dance, because that’s how Monday Night rolls)! Last but not least, thank you to Bonnie for her continued support and her joy for the journey; Amanda and Kat for coming out to support me the day of the event; and a very special thank you to Jarad, for putting up with weeks of his girlfriend running off to rehearsals, obsessively talking about pole, being moody and depressed and anxious at times, and of being the best sport ever the night before/day of the event. My performance was the first time he’d seen me dance in person! He was endlessly loving and supportive throughout this journey, even taking a trip to Downtown Disney to hunt for Cheshire Cat stuff for me – between him and Kat, and the performance in general, I now have a little shrine to The Most Mischievous Kitteh Evar.
I will post some photos, but the professional shots and video will be coming later – excited to see them! I was back in class yesterday, and my body is still a little tired (wrists/forearms), but I was able to hold my twisted handgrip aerial pencil and ayesha pretty well, which is great – it’s such a slow progression, but it’s getting better, and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to lock them both in the next month! I have other conditioning to work on in the meantime – oh, pole! There’s always something more! 🙂