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 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.
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.
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! 🙂
I need to do a proper post when I have some time, but for now, I’ll give you this photo:
Thank you to everyone for all of the love and support through this journey. I look forward to posting more photos of the event itself (plus my experiences with it, of course), as well as my continuing journey with pole! xoxoxox