[updated with new video 10/12/12]
On Sunday, I was lucky enough to be a vendor at California Pole Dance Championship – not only did we have a great launch for Poleitical Clothing, but we also ended up with killer seats thanks to Anjel Dust! It was such a great night – being a room with that many people who love pole dancing is amazing. The joy for it is infectious – I’m always fascinated to see the differences between the competitors, to see what speaks to me, to see what tricks people bust out. It’s so much fun!
I did a live tweet of the show after seeing Natasha Wang post a shout out, requesting that someone post updates – figured it was an easy thing to do, and the pole gals who were not able to attend might like it! While I missed a couple of the early competitors because I was still selling at our table – and I was without a program, so I butchered some of the names (sorry, ladies!) – I still tried to add a little something about each performer. I created a Chirpstory of my tweets, if anyone would like to check it out! (The embedding isn’t working on here, but if you click on the link in the previous sentence, it’ll take you there.)
Congratulations to all of the competitors – you were all SO inspiring and amazing to watch. For those who missed it, the results were as follows:
- 1ST PLACE – Nadia Shariff
- Runner Up – Mary Kolacinski
- 3rd Place – Sergia Louise Anderson
- 1ST PLACE – Lily Huang
- Runner Up – Stacey Craven
- 3rd Place – Uyen Hoang
Most Athletic – Nadia Shariff
Most Flexibility – Sergia Louise Anderson
Most Entertaining – Nadia Shariff
Most Artistic – Mary Kolacinski
I will post some videos below of a few of the performances!
As I mentioned earlier, Poleitical Clothing had a successful launch at the show! We sold a number of items, actually selling out of one size of the shorts! It was so lovely to meet everyone that stopped by the booth, from David C. Owen to Leen Isabel from Pole Dancing Adventures – we had a blast! Thank you to everyone who came by and purchased something! For those of you who were not able to make it to the event, we do now have an online shop open on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/poleiticalclothing (our website is still under construction). We’ll be re-ordering for what we’ve sold out of and should have it in soon, and we’ll be updating the listings as soon as we have some better photos! We will also be switching up some of our stock to include other styles in the near future! For now, here are our three staples: the comfy tee, sexy tank, and perfect pole short!
And, now for the CPDC videos!
First up is Amateur Division winner Lily Huang. Apologies for the quality of the video – the song is SO gorgeous (the cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” that was used for the trailer of the film The Social Network), but the screaming from the gals nearby is earsplitting. I’m serious. Consider yourself warned. Unfortunately, a head is also blocking the view for a portion near the end, but you can catch what she’s doing on the video feed displayed on the wall in the back. It’s a beautiful performance! I can’t wait for the professional video!
Next is Pro Division winner Nadia Shariff. She was the crowd favorite to win, especially after coming in second the last two years. She’s a ton of fun to watch! I loved her opening combo – such a bitching move.
Here is my favorite performance of the night, from Mary Kolacinski (aka Mary Ashton). Stunning!
And, last but not least, I gotta give a shout out to my pole mama, Drea Roers! We were all so proud of her. She had a couple of costume malfunctions that prevented her from doing a few things in her routine, but she worked around it, gave it her all, and presented a beautiful performance.
Love you, Drea!!
This is Greta Pontarelli:
Stunning, yes? At 61 years old, she does things I wish I could do – and I am half her age!! What an inspiration!! Greta also competed at PPC 2012 and placed 2nd in her category, although I did not get to see her performance while I was there (it was a crazy day, since I was also competing). I love her grace! I think that Greta can be an inspiration to any pole dancer. Whether you are just finding pole, or are a champion yourself (I originally saw her video because it was posted by Natasha Wang), Greta is someone worthy of a pole-crush!
I missed the live stream of Pole Art 2012, courtesy of Pole Ranking (was at a wedding that day), but THANK GOD they have the videos up on their blog!! For a comprehensive video listing of all of the performances, head over to their site – there is written commentary/breakdown of each performance, too.
I am going to embed the top two female competitors – Oona, because she’s awesome and took first place, and Natasha, because she’s so beautiful and came in as the runner up! I love both of their performances – Oona’s athleticism and musicality always blows me away, and I loved that Natasha had a different vibe to what she did in this performance (compared to some of the other performances I have seen).
Oh, and those toe points to flexes on Natasha? LOVE. She nails those little flourishes like nobody else.
The full list of winners:
Female Winner: Oona Kivelä (for the 3rd time!)
Female Runner up: Natasha Wang
Male Winner: Saulo Sarmiento (the backward jump into the shoulder mount he does at 1:02?! Holy. Crap.)
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. 🙂