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How to Give Awesome Judging Notes

Recently, I had my first experience being a judge for a pole competition. The experience was awesome and educational in more than one way – I’ve written two blog posts about it for Bad Kitty and Pole Sport Organization, but I wanted to write a third, from a more personal place.

Having been a competitor in the past, as well as a performer who has received feedback from professionals, I have some experience with judging notes. On the whole, I would say that most of the ones I have received have been…lacking.

I think most judges mean well. But, what I have found that I crave – and this is true of most of the competitors I have spoken to – is not only flattery (duh), but constructive criticism/feedback. Yes, we as performers and competitors want to know what we did well! But, we also want to know what to work on, and if possible, to have a clear explanation of it.

These types of notes give us workable goals to think of for our next competitions or performance, but also for our overall growth. As such, my goal as a judge was to give strong, positive, constructive feedback to each competitor. My advice for any person who is going to be judging a competition or feedback showcase would be:

Remember to be kind

This is especially important for competitions that include amateurs, but I also personally believe it’s important for the pros, too. Everyone wants to be told they did well and to be recognized. Even if their routine needs a lot of help, picking out one or two small details or moments and celebrating those in your notes can make all the difference in encouraging the recipient. Remember that people thrive best in pole when they feel validated for their hard work. We all love getting the stuff that we couldn’t get the week or month before, and this is similar – and, that sometimes, competitors don’t know they did something cool. They may just be focused on some mistake they made. Let them know that they are seen and recognized for doing something well!

Even when I watched someone who clearly struggled, I tried very hard to find something positive to say. People often know when they struggled. And, this doesn’t mean you have to overlook that, but…try to find something positive. An example for you: I watched a competitor who truly had a rough time with their routine and connecting to the audience, but they had a couple of small moments that shone through – a spinning climb on static, and the joy on their face on their spinning pole pass. So, I took a moment to mention those at the start of my notes. It’s a small, kind gesture that can encourage someone to keep going with their pole journey.

Be constructive in your criticism

Based the feedback I heard from my friends regarding their judging notes, the ones they appreciated the most were the ones that gave them clear ideas of what to work on. I tried to do this with every competitor, even the ones that were awesome. Constructive criticism can be anything from “remember to point your toes” to things like audience connection, costume effectiveness, pacing and energy, an increase in difficulty of tricks, and any host of other suggestions to improve the strength of a routine. Always try to find eloquent ways to express these criticisms. Some of my favorites were, “For next time, I would like to see you do [insert constructive note]” and “For the future, I would like you to work on [constructive note] to strengthen your performance.” Framing it as “something to work on for the future” can help a competitor really see it as a workable goal, instead of just a critique. If you do need to make a deduction, check to make sure you have it correct (at PAAC, I was personally deducted for something that was NOT correct, but the judge either did not listen, or was not informed). Ask the panel assistant, or your fellow judges, if you aren’t sure.

Also, remember that many competitors will suspect what they need to work on, but still want to hear it from someone else. When I did my PAAC routine, I knew I didn’t get enough momentum in my spin, and that I did not have a high difficulty level to my tricks, so it wasn’t a shock to me when those notes came up. It just reinforced that I needed to work on those things!

PAAC scores

The Judging Notes that I received for my PAAC routine. The gluteal fold thing still bothers me (I had on tights!)…

Take your time

Yes, you generally have a time limit within which you must finish your notes and scoring, but…don’t rush it just to beat the clock. Say what you want to say, and take that extra 30 to 60 seconds to let the competitor know your thoughts. Providing fuller notes only enriches the experience of the competitor, but also, it gives YOU more experience. I don’t think I got any notes done in under 2 minutes, and I would say that I was under 3 minutes maybe 50% of the time (maaaybe), and nobody cared. It doesn’t take all that long to say something of value.

Be honest

Sometimes, people do need the truth put to them. I will admit to having given a few notes that were terser than others, particularly in moments when I felt the competitor was sandbagging (a pet peeve of mine), or when they had potential and did something that I felt took away from the performance. An example would be a competitor I watched who started out super funny, but who – in my opinion – did nothing to sustain it. Without the dynamics and hard work that I saw from other competitors, their routine felt boring, as if they were relying on one gimmick to get them through, instead of having put in hard work to create a full routine. Keep in mind, that is MY personal opinion of what I saw, and my notes reflected it. I know another judge on the same panel absolutely disagreed with me!

Which brings me to this…

Judging is very subjective. Just because your neighbor loved something, doesn’t mean you have to. One thing that is interesting to me is the issue of handling deductions. During my pole panels, we generally didn’t chat much amongst ourselves about the performances, save for when there were some obvious deductions. But, in the lyra panels, there was A LOT of talking amongst the judges about the deductions – everyone consulted each other, and in general, the judges were a little more critical about what they saw. Again, if you ever aren’t sure about a deduction, ASK! 🙂 On a side note: There were definitely some issues this past PPC with judges not being informed of when competitors had gotten moves cleared ahead of time, so they were adding deductions for things that had been okayed by PSO, which upset me – I do hope they fix that issue soon.

As a competitor, you must be prepared that some judges will love you, and others…not so much. Case in point, in my PPC 2012 routine, one judge gave me the highest score on the board – a good 20 to 30 points higher than most of the others. I still don’t know WHY, though. I got very few actual notes back. Just try to not take it personally!

Remember that part of your job as a judge – as I see it – is to help these competitors be better! Providing excellent notes helps – it really does. So, if you’re thinking about judging soon, or you plan to in the future, keep these tips in mind. It might make all the difference to someone you watch. 🙂

 

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Taking Pride

I think it’s fair to say that most pole dancers are hard on themselves. We look at our photos or videos and only see the negatives – the things to work on. I think we strive for perfection a lot of the time, which tends to mean that we miss the little victories. Something isn’t pretty, so it’s not perfect.

I was chatting with a Pole Unbound friend about why we tend to post videos or photos and apologize for them:

  • I was tired.
  • It’s messy.
  • I don’t like this part.
  • This isn’t my best.

Admit it: you’ve probably said something like that in a post online. If you haven’t, that’s AWESOME. Seriously, good for you! But, for the rest of us, I think I’ve figured out a couple of reasons why we behave this way:

  • We’re trying to beat critics to the punch. It’s an admission of, “Hey, I bet you’re going to judge me for not being perfect, so let me tell you up front that I know. I know I wasn’t perfect.”
  • We’re looking to be better and selecting the things we know we need to work on.

I tend to think the first reason is the most common reason, but the second one is also absolutely valid. I know that’s why I do it! I do also make a note of things I want to work on, too, but it tends to be more the former than the latter.

So, I wanted to take a moment to talk about pride. Not stupid, ego-driven, I’m so fucking awesome it hurts pride, but genuine appreciation for the work you’ve done and how far you’ve come.

It’s really hard to watch videos of yourself (for most people). It has been hard for me for a long time, but I’m getting over it. Freestyle exploration as helped me IMMENSELY in this regard. One of the tenets of freestyle exploration is to move away from being self-conscious about your movement (whether it’s pretty or ugly or weird or graceful).

I try hard, nowadays, to look at videos of myself and seek out the good moments. I’m not always successful (I deleted an entire video today without even watching it because I just felt so off during the dance), but it’s a mindset to practice.

In that vein, here are three recent videos of mine that I am proud of:

My Northern California Pole Presentation Performance

This was my first public pole performance since PPC 2012, and I worked hard on it. I chose my song because I loved it (“Nearly Midnight, Honolulu” by Neko Case). I loved the simplicity of it, I loved the story of it, I loved that it moved me. It was not any easy song to “dance” to, but I didn’t really care, because I had a story I wanted to tell.

I am proud that many of my moves are clean. I am proud that I stuck to my story and my movement, even when the audience’s initial reaction wasn’t what I expected it to be. I am proud that I kept going when I had a grip issue (I used too much grip and got stuck). I am proud that my self-made costume looked pretty. I am proud that the emotion I wanted came through in many moments.

My Pacific Aerial Art Championship Performance

This routine came together in less than a month, because the original song I chose just didn’t work for me. I was training for the NCPP routine for the month prior to PAAC, so I didn’t work on my PAAC routine until NCPP was done. I had ideas and a song and a concept, but when I went into the studio for the first time to work on it, I couldn’t get it to work. So, I had to choose a new song and start from scratch. Because I was unsure about what our rigging would allow, I kept my routine safe by using mostly intermediate moves and worked to make those clean and to make my transitions work.

I am proud of my energy in this routine. I am proud that I did something totally different from anything I have done or anything I usually do. I am proud that I took a chance and went with it, despite being scared. I am proud that most of my moves are clean, and more importantly, that most of my transitions are clean – that I was able to dance/move through them smoothly. I am proud that my costume came together and looked awesome – the same is true of my props. I am proud of my story – I really loved it. And, I am proud that my twerk worked werked.

My Finding Your Freestyle Challenge video

I shot this at the end of Pole Unbound, to fulfill a FYF challenge from my friend Tiffany. I used the prompt of “hair” for the dance (a prompt that was given to me by a partner during a freestyle workshop earlier in the PU weekend, which I LOVED).

I am proud of this because I had never heard the song before dancing to it. My friend Jamie, who was also at Pole Unbound, chose it for me. I am proud of my movement. I am proud that I stuck with my prompt and explored it. I am proud that my focus was just my prompt and the movement to explore it, and not that I didn’t know the song or how I might look, etc.

My Handspring Practice video

These clips were shot today. I went to an open pole practice, initially to work on some freestyle and work from Pole Unbound, but ended up feeling really self-conscious about it in the presence of people I didn’t know (and in an unfamiliar studio). So, I started working on tricks, and to my delight, my TG handspring from the floor came back!

I am proud that I tried my handspring again, despite not really thinking I could do it today. I am proud that I kept at it. I am proud that I’ve gotten stronger and can see it – and feel it. I am proud that I have 4 different handspring variations in this video: my TG from the floor, my TG ayesha from caterpillar, my forearm handspring, and my elbow grip ayesha from caterpillar. I am super proud of my elbow grip and how solid it feels. I am proud that I did my elbow grip last and was still able to hold it well.

So. Now, I challenge you to watch your own videos and find the moments you are proud of. It doesn’t have to be much. It could be a few seconds. But look for the things to celebrate. The little victories are a big, big deal. Trust me. 🙂

PSO National Championships on Chirpstory

Did you all get a chance to watch the live stream of PSO‘s National Championships? I was so bummed to not be there in person, but it was nice that UPA had the stream for everyone!

The performances were so fun – it’s always interesting for me to watch pole dancers of that caliber and see what speaks to me. I love character driven pieces – they stand out for me, always. That’s one of the reasons I was overjoyed when Sergia won! She’s one of my favorites.

While the professional videos from Alloy Images have yet to be published, I am looking forward to reviewing some of the performances – I missed Danielle Romano (who took 2nd place) and Amber Cahill, and missed moments from the first few performances because of technical difficulties with the feed. However, I was live tweeting everything I did see, and I’ve created a Chirpstory of my tweets:

http://chirpstory.com/li/111639

Congrats to Sergia (1st), Danielle (2nd), and Mary (3rd) on their wins, and to ALL of the competitors from last night. It takes a lot of guts to go up and perform in front of so many people, and under such high stakes! You did us all proud!

Live Tweet of PSO National Championships on ChirpStory

Live Tweet of PSO National Championships on Chirpstory

 

Congratulations to Drea, Elite Finalist for APFC 2012!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!! I’m so excited!!!

Drea, owner of The Pole Garage and my teacher, has been selected as an Elite Finalist for APFC 2012!!! If you’ll be in NYC in October, you must go to the event and cheer for her in person, for me! 🙂

This is her beautiful submission video! She’s such an inspiration to all of us!! LOVE YOU, DREA!!!! Congratulations – you SO deserve this honor, and we are all thrilled for you!!! Now, go kick some ass!!!

Calling All Plus Size Pole Dancers!

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!!!

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dFNQVGpyRjJHaDZsQ3ZkTGFOVjZXWlE6MQ

I LOVE THIS!!! There is still time to submit an entry – go for it, ladies!

International Pole Dance Masters Cup 2012

Um, wow!

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!)

Group:

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!

Doubles:

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! 🙂

Women’s:

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:

Men’s:

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!

My view

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. 🙂

Jenyne Butterfly hosting (and pole bunnies cleaning the poles)

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. 🙂

Pacific Pole Championships: Pictures and Video

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.

Some ugly truths…and untruths

This quote came across my Twitter feed today, from a Portland-based actress that I follow: “Sometimes when things fall apart, they may be actually falling into place.”

Perhaps it struck me so much because I had my own little meltdown today and generally feel like things are falling down around my ears. It’s the result of being really overwhelmed, in addition to being over-tired, filled with fun hormones (oh, being a lady can suck sometimes), and being the type of person who is really, really hard on herself.

I hadn’t felt nerves about the competition until Tuesday. I woke up in a mild state of panic. It was not yet to the “cling to the bed” stage, where I can’t force myself to get up because the anxiety is so overwhelming, but it was definitely present. Still, I got my ass up and went to my private lesson with Drea. It was a good hour and a half. Calming for sure, and we worked on things in a way that wasn’t too intense – I felt capable, like I got things accomplished, but like I still had work to do. So, I took it as a successful experience overall.

Tuesday night, I got a much-needed massage to try to free up some of my strength. My forearms lock up almost every rehearsal, even when I’ve barely used them, which is a sign to me that something is out of alignment. The massage helped, even though it wasn’t exactly restful – I was so tight through my shoulders and arms that there was a lot of pain involved, and my brain wouldn’t shut off, but I still felt better when I left.

Wednesday was such a long day that it didn’t feel like I had any time to breathe and relax, which was the entire point of taking it off from rehearsal (and, of course, to give my muscles a break after the massage). I think it set me up to have an exhausting day today, too.

Upon arriving at rehearsal, I got a chance to see my costume mostly put together, which was fun for all of about a minute. (I’ll post a teaser pic later.) And then, we started my rehearsal, with Kat sitting in to give me final tips on things to polish.

Cut to, I do one run through and burst into tears as soon as it ends.

I hate crying in front of people, and I gotta really be upset to do it (and there’s often a certain element of trust involved, which tells you that I trust Kat enough to be a gibbering mess in front of her).

It comes down to this: I am playing an old, old game with myself, where I really do a damn good job of making myself “not enough” – I spent the last few days (rather unconsciously) picking away at any good will and sense of accomplishment I had for myself, leaving me with a hell of a lot of, “What are you thinking?! Seriously, you entered a competition? That’s a joke, right? You’re terrible, and you have no business doing this on stage. You’re going to be annihilated. You will be the worst, you’ll make a fool of yourself, and you will let everyone down.” It’s a truly terrible inner monologue to have, but the reason I am being honest about it is that it is part of this journey. Pole can be a lot of fun, but for me, it’s also a tremendous challenge on more than just a physical level.

I’m not used to feeling ill-equipped when it comes to performing. While I get nerves when I act, and I have my own little demons pop up, I have weapons and tricks to combat it. I also know my strengths and how to play them, and in general, I know how to play at my maximum level. I know what that is, and I have confidence in it. Doesn’t mean I always WANT to do the hard scene where I’m weeping, but I am pretty good about knowing that I can, even if I’m also pretty adept at trying to self-sabotage sometimes.

With this…it’s still relatively new to me in a lot of ways, and COMPLETELY new to me in this realm. Performing?? In front of people I don’t know??? WITH JUDGEMENT INVOLVED?!?!?!?!? *dies*

The truth is, I don’t feel any better than anyone else at this particular endeavor. I don’t see my own value, I haven’t been rewarding my accomplishments because I am hard-pressed to see what they are right now (beyond the recognition that I’m stronger physically in some respects). I feel like a big, fat failure because I am not as good as I want to be. I’ve put this hugely unattainable and unrealistic expectation on myself of being flawless. It’s a nice way to validate that secret fear/belief that I’m not good enough. “See? Your routine isn’t flawless. You’re clearly not good enough to be in this competition.” It’s insane.

Humans, we be sneaky like that. It’s an old, old game that EVERYONE plays, whether they know it or not. And, even though I’m well aware of the existence of it, and where I’ve done it in my life, I got gobsmacked by it today.

So, in that way, I’m being very hard on myself. I’m mad that my routine isn’t as beautiful or perfect as I wanted it to be. I’m mad that I’m not 120lbs of grace. I’m mad that I didn’t work harder. But, all of that is distraction. Being mad at myself is a manifestation of being scared and an act of displacement, in a way. It’s a vicious circle that feeds right back into the “not enough” story that I have created for myself.

Anyway…getting back to rehearsal…I spent a while crying and mopping myself up, confessing that I desperately did not want to let anyone down. Which is very much true – I feel such a sense of responsibility (which is code for: “Don’t fuck up!”) to everyone who has been so helpful and supportive throughout this process that I am terrified of being a failure. But, as Kat said – after comforting me and teasing me that “there’s no crying in Pole!” – the only way I would let her down was if I dropped out of the competition. Which I don’t even consider an option, because while I am a commitment-phobe, once I DO commit, I’m in it, even if I’m kicking and screaming half of the time. 🙂 Kat reminded me that my choice to enter is something that most of the other girls in our studio didn’t choose. That it took balls to do it. I need to re-frame my thinking on that, because I didn’t see it as brave – I never see myself as brave, even though it’s one of the qualities most singled out  by others in reference to me (I feel like a doofus saying that, but it’s true). Instead, with my fear and anxiety, I see it as really foolish and ridiculous.

Gotta love what that shit does to you, right? As I like to say, “Oh, Brain. I thought we were past this.”

After finishing my cry, I went back to rehearsing and felt much more solid, even if I was still having some trouble in my runs. It’s mostly little nuances and things I’m not sure I can change at this point, given that I have a day left. I’ll work on some stuff tonight and tomorrow, but I think the most important thing will be doing mental runs of the routine and generally calming myself down, reminding myself that I do have fun doing this, and that this is just a chance to have fun playing a character. I got into this to learn what it was to prepare for a competition – and that includes the good AND the bad – and to be better at pole overall. So, in that sense, I got everything I set out for when doing this – I just need to accept me for me and not be so hard on myself.

I’m still in a bit of a mental health shut down, but hopefully I can reboot in a few and start working again a little later. I got my costume sorted out and did my rehearsal in it today, so that’s good. It works, with the exception of one piece that is a little bitchy – not entirely sure how to fix it, but necessity is the mother of invention…and creativity doesn’t hurt! So, anyway, here’s a little teaser!