2017 Season Updates

2017 Season Updates

1. We are removing the state residency requirements for regionals. Anyone from anywhere can compete at Pro. International competitors will be allowed to compete in Pro, but only the U.S. citizens/residents are eligible to move on to Nationals. Reminder, only top 2 in each region move to Nationals for spring 2017.

2. Professionals, and those who placed 1, 2 and 3 in Level 4 in 2016, or anyone else who wants to enter, may compete in...

Compete HAPPY: Staying Friends with Your Pole Competitors

There are a few things polers seem to have in common past our love of spinning on a metal pole; we glitter everything, own lots of cats (or pets in general), AND have a competitive streak as wide as our shorts are small! While the former can bring pole dancers together, the latter has the possibility to create a wedge between even the closest of pole friends.

Competing is meant to be something that helps further polers’ careers,...

What category should you enter? A flow chart

Do you have no idea what category to enter? Do you just have way too many ideas and need help narrowing it down? Well check out my handy dandy flow chart to make your life a little easier!

Just a quick note: There are many reasons to compete and many ways to enter into each category so do not be alarmed if yours is not listed. This chart is intended for entertainment purposes only.

8 DON'Ts Before Your Next Pole Competition

8 DON'Ts Before Your Next Pole Competition

Last month I tackled the 8 MUST-DOs before your next pole competition, so it only makes sense I talk about the stuff you should avoid in your competition prep too! When writing this post, a general theme ran through the list which was reminding you that there isn’t one right way to compete. So check out my top 8 DON’Ts before your next competition:

Transgender In The Pole Community

Transgender In The Pole Community

The new language in Pole Sport Organization’s rules for competition confirms what I already know about the pole world – that we are, and should continue to be, a community that values inclusion and understands the importance of affirming and including identities that are often marginalized in society. I hope that all polers, regardless of gender identity, will feel welcomed and valued as an important part of the pole world.

2016 Season Updates

At the end of each season, we do a review of the year, and see what worked, and what we could improve. Here’s our list of new happenings for 2016:

OPTIONAL LEVEL EVALUATION RESOURCE

For the competitor, one of the main challenges with the registration process is deciding which level to enter. While mandatory level testing is not something that we want to require at this time, an optional level evaluation is a service that we would like to begin offering, along with recognition of leveling up. It should be cool to be at a higher level!  

You can read more about the optional level testing resource here.

To cover the cost of testing and recognition, a $19 fee per test will be assessed. The fee goes towards paying the pros who will evaluate you, the pin and certificate per level, and updating our website and newsletter with the level ups. We will also be including our new Competitor Training Manual, to those who submit for evaluation.

You can purchase the level evaluation here.

We would like to give special thanks to Ruby Red as the model for the demo videos, and Renee Wu for filming. Thanks also to guinea pigs: Caitlin Marco, Dana Carina, Lauren Manzano, Melissa Hyde, Rage Monster, and Reamey Belski, who all took the beta test to help us work out the kinks.

COMPETITOR TRAINING MANUAL

This manual was born out of the need to address the challenges that pole dance competitors face when they are training for competition. We have studied the habits of competitors from all areas of the United States, and we see the following as major issues that competitors face, in both the amateuer and the professional realm:

  • Overtraining, injury and burnout
  • Lack of support from the home studio, or lack of effective training methods available at the home studio
  • A sense of being overwhelmed by the task at hand
  • Lack of knowledge about routine building

This manual attempts to address each of these issues. If we are successful, we want each competitor to feel:

  • She or he worked very hard physically, but without injury or repetitive stress issues.
  • There was a logical program of training to follow.
  • Preparation for competition was challenging, but a task that she or he could complete successfully.
  • Confident that she or he can put together a routine.

The training manual is included in the optional level evaluation fee of $19, and will be emailed at the time of purchase. The manual will be updated on a yearly basis. Contributors and editors of this manual include Seanmichael Rau, Amy Guion, Amy Rosvally, Katerina Paskaris, Rikki Little, and Tristabel Akila. Pro tips are by Seanmichael Rau, Shaina Cruea, and Maggie Ann.

JUDGES EXAM

Trained judges are the next step in improving our judging system.

A preliminary version of the judge exam is now available. The exam is free to anyone who wishes to take it! You can take the exam at this link. The exam is 60 multiple choice questions about PSO rules, levels, and ethics. Coming soon, it will also include videos to be evaluated. Taking a course and passing the exam will eventually be required to be a PSO judge. For now, have fun learning, take the test, and get a certificate of completion if you pass.

https://www.onlineexambuilder.com/pso-judging-exam/exam-51420

The judge exam will be helpful to those who are planning to judge at a PSO event, and also to those who are training themselves or others for a PSO competition. Knowing the rules and how the judges are scoring a performance is a great way to improve your own routines.

We would LOVE feedback on this program, as it’s in the very beginning stages. You can email us with suggestions at info@polesportorg.com.

LYRA RESTRUCTURE

We would like to welcome Caty Mae as our 2016 Lyra Program Director. As director, Caty is our specialist on all things lyra, as is the advocate for lyra artists in PSO events. She has reviewed our rules and setup from last year, and has recommended several changes to the program that we will be implementing. If you are interested in learning more about Caty, booking her for workshops, or would like to contact her about the PSO lyra program, you can find that information here.

Lyra competition will be available at Pacific, Central, and Nationals, with fall artistic shows TBA. There will be a 36” hoop available to all competitors that will not have a tab or taco (one smooth circle). The spanset will be choked directly onto the lyra.

Our new level structure:

  • Level 1: This is the appropriate level for the beginner/intermediate lyra artist. Competitors may not be teaching lyra nor performing lyra for compensation.
    • Planches are not allowed. A “planche” is defined as a hold where the body is held parallel to the floor, with contact points of the hands on the bar only.
    • Backward dynamic movement is not allowed (ex. rolls, elbow circles). Beats are fine.
    • Drops between the bars are not allowed. “Drops” means a complete release of weight from the top bar and catch on the bottom bar.
    • A mat must be used underneath the lyra during performance.
  • Level 2: This is the appropriate level for the intermediate/advanced lyra artist.
    • All moves are allowed, except for safety violations, including not hanging from the truss.
    • Competitors at this level may be from anywhere in the world.
    • A mat must be used underneath the lyra during performance.
  • Professional: This is the appropriate level for the advanced lyra artist.
    • All moves are allowed, except for safety violations, including not hanging from the truss.
    • Competitors in the professional level must be a citizen or resident of the country where the competition is taking place, as we have cash prizes at the National level.
    • The top 3 competitors at regionals will move on to the U.S. National Pole & Aerial Championships.

FLOW ARTS COMPETITION

Registrations are now open for Pacific Pole & Aerial in the disciplines of Hoop Flow, Staff Flow, and Poi Flow, together known as the Flow Arts. We are trying this out as an experimental discipline with a limited number of competitors to see if you like it!

Judges will include Samantha Taylor of Rawktails, Lester Mooney of Fire Groove, and Jeweliette Luminess of Bombshell Fire Entertainment.

Here are the Rules for Flow Tools.

Not ready to compete yet in Flow Arts? You can also catch some free demos and try out flow tools for yourself at PPC.

 

 

SWITZERLAND

We’re going to Switzerland! Pole Sport Organization Competition, European Edition, will be on May 7 in Zurich. Our local coordinating committee for the event is Gravity Arts. We are doing just a one day show, and are about half way sold out for competitor spots at this time. More information, including competitor registration, is at www.polesportorg.com/events/europecompete

ARTISTIC PROFESSIONAL FINALS

In the spirit of separating the Artistic Professional division more clearly from the Championship Professional division, Artistic Professional finalists in the 2016 U.S. National Pole Championships can have people as props or backup dancers onstage for Nationals with approval. Concepts, ideas, and additional props that have to be moved by stage hands, can be discussed and cleared with Amy at amy@polesportorg.com. As we get closer to the event, Amy will be reaching out with deadlines for submissions of additional materials, dancer names, etc.

In the spirit of keeping the Artistic Professional finals judged based on the actual finalist’s performance and not the individual skills of back up dancers, any additional person on stage may not touch or make physical contact with the finalist.

TRANSFER INFORMATION

We’ve been looking for a balance between keeping our registration management under control, and honoring the fact that hey, sh*it happens, and sometimes you need to drop out. We’re going to try this policy for 2016 and see how it goes. If you are a competitor wanting to transfer a 2016 registration and had previously been denied, please email us again and we can make the change for you now.

If you are signed up for a competition as a performer, and wish to transfer your registration to another person, you may do so up until we close registration for the competition. You must email us with the following information for the person you are transferring to, before the close of registration:

  • Stage name of new competitor
  • Email address of new competitor
  • Studio affiliation (if any) of new competitor
  • Event, level and age group of new competitor

Restrictions:

  • Transfers must be to the same section, for example lyra professional competitors may only transfer to other lyra professionals, and pole amateurs may only transfer to other pole amateurs. Transfers between sections are not allowed.
  • Transfers are only for the same competition, for example, you could not transfer your registration for Central to a registration for Southern.
  • Transfer requests must be emailed BEFORE the close of registration. Many times, this is far in advance of posted deadlines, because we sell out! We are unable to honor requests sent after closing.
  • If you are getting paid for your registration spot by the person you are transferring to, we are not responsible for making that happen, and are not liable if that transfer person defaults on their payment to you.

TRANSGENDER INFORMATION

In order to continue our mission of inclusion, it’s become necessary to clarify our policy on transgender competitors. We have consulted with several individuals as well as reviewing NCAA rules and Olympic rules in order to come up with a policy that respects all participants.

For professional level competitors who identify as transgender:  One year living as the gender you identify as, including average gender testosterone levels. Documentation may be required to confirm current status on a case-by-case basis. If documentation is requested, all information can be sent to info@polesportorg.com for confidential review. Any inquiries, questions or comments by competitors will also be kept confidential. Medical documentation of average target gender testosterone levels for our purposes are approximately 270-1,070 ng/dL for men and approximately 15-70 ng/dL for women.

For amateur level (levels 1-4 pole, levels 1-2 lyra, all levels flow tools) competitors: Competitors may enter as the gender they most identify with and are currently living as. Any inquiries, questions or comments by competitors will also be kept confidential.

Happy 2016, and we hope to see you at a show soon!

8 MUST-DOs Before Your Next Competition

Competing in the new year? Whether your competition is next month or 10 months from now it’s never too early to get the most out of your pre-competition training. Just don’t miss out on simple changes or additions to your routine that might take your competition piece to new heights. So let’s dive into our 8 “MUST-DOs” for competition prep:

1. Start your conditioning early

Signed up to compete? Pretty sure you are going to competition? Thinking about maybe, sometime competing? Well, start your conditioning now! Make your pre-comp life easy by starting your conditioning (including strength building, flexibility training, cross training) early on. First off you will see the most benefits by slowly building your additional conditioning exercises into your routine, allowing yourself to gradually increase its intensity. Second, it will make the additional pole work you take on in pre-comp mode easier to tackle. That jade split will be a whole lot comfier when you already have your over-split perfected.

2. Don’t forget to freestyle

It can be tempting to schedule your pole practices down to the last second, filling every moment with specific tricks and combos you need to work on for the competition. So making space for freestyling can feel like a waste of time, but it isn’t! Freestyling is where the magic happens. Allowing yourself time to just enjoy your competition music and not stress about what you SHOULD be doing frees you to discover new and interesting movement AND rediscover old combos and tricks you may have forgotten. Just make should you are recording that way you can be in the moment when you are freestyling.

3. Video early and often

As a general rule, polers tend to be perfectionists, which often means we don’t want to start recording ourselves until we have our moves down pat. Unfortunately, there are a lot of missed opportunities in waiting till the last moment to video your training sessions. By recording early and often, you get to see your performance for the audience’s point of view from the get go. You’ll learn that while you might feel like you are over-emoting, your movements don’t actually come across as big as the feel. And of course, video is a great training tool to use in correcting form and technique.

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4. Angle your tricks

Part of what sets the pros apart from the amateur polers is their skill in angling each trick and each big moment towards the audience and judges. They know not to waste all the work they did on nailing an Iron X by accidentally ending up with their body angled towards the back of the stage. Confidently knowing you will end up on the side of the pole you want to takes practice and muscle memory. Start early and use your video recorder as the audience so you can perfect your pose with certainty!

5. Schedule breaks

Along with being perfectionists, polers are also known for their intensity in training. We just love pole so much we want to do it 24/7! The unfortunate fact of the matter is that that just isn’t the safest way to go about it. By pushing yourself to pole when your pole is telling you to take a break, you are setting yourself up for more long-term fatigue and even injury. Also have you ever noticed that when you take a few days or even a week off of pole after intense training and then return, you are stronger than ever?! It’s awesome! So schedule breaks into your training schedule and really listen to your body when it tells you, you need to slow down.

6. Get your costume early and practice in it

No, this is not just an excuse to dance around in sparkles, but it is a perk of this “must do”! Costumes and props create unique challenges in pole performances and you do not want to have one of those challenges pop up mid-competition. Do your best to prevent possible disaster by practicing in costume and with props as early and as often as possible – even use similar props or style pole wear to recreate the experience if you don’t have the real thing in yet. Most likely everything will go as planned on the day of, but if not you are prepared to deal with the worst.

7. Make healthy changes

Get enough sleep – that means to leave parties early or set your DVR to record if you have to. Cut down or completely out unhealthy eating habits. Up the fruit and veggie, decrease the take-out. Drink lots of water. Eat more protein. Remember you are training more than ever so you need to support your body’s increased activity. You already know to do these things, you just need to actually do them!

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8. Keep your partner, family, and friends in the loop

Training for a pole competition can be a solitary, even lonely experience, one that our non-pole partners don’t quite understand. You willingly put yourself into a very intense and stressful situation and others may not know the right way to support you through the experience. Be honest and open with those in your life about why competing is important to you. Then explain (to the best of your ability) what time and energy commitment it will take and any changes you will be making to your lifestyle. If you break it down for them from the beginning they are more likely to become your p[ole comp cheerleader than the begrudging partner who can’t wait till the comp is over.

5 Ways to Stand Out in the Competition

The pole world might be trick obsessed, but if you want to take your performance to the next level and stick in the minds of the judges, you’ve got to get creative!

When I was training for my first PSO competition in 2014 I got a little… neurotic…and binge watched every Level 1 PSO routine I could find on YouTube. And then because I was training with competitors of all levels and we were giving each other advice, I binged watched every PSO routine I could find. What did I learn? Other than watching that many pole videos in a row is a bad idea and is sure to drive you a little nuts, it’s that the routines I still remembered days later, did so because they stood out either because of a unique theme, combos, or just a special something that makes you stand up and pay attention.

Make your performance one to remember, with these 5 Ways to Stand Out in the Competition:

1. Avoid Overused Combos

It should be no surprise that pole dancers love a trendy pole trick. Our favorite combos are often gleaned from Instagram and Facebook, but unfortunately your competition is doing the same thing. For example, when I was training for my 2nd PSO competition (which I ultimately wasn’t able to do) I had a butterfly to flatline combo, come competition day and 90% of those in Level 2 had a butterfly to flatline combo….AWKWARD! This is where a little bit of past PSO research can be helpful. Do a little digging into the videos from your level and look at the combos you learn in class (most likely other polers are learning to put things together the same way). Simply start playing with the moves you have, reverse the combo, switch sides, add another combo inside another combo, try different arm and leg positions. Just make what you do, YOU!

2. Look to Different Dance Styles

Similar to #1, polers can get stuck drinking from the same well of inspiration. Step outside your pole dance bubble and look to other forms of dance, fitness, and movement for your creative motivation. A great place to start is to look at your athletic endeavors from childhood. Maybe you were you forced to take ballet or in color guard throughout high school (that’s me lol). Take something you already know something about and infuse it into your performance. I promise you will be remembered if you are twirling a baton on a pole!

3. Make Your Costume/Props A Priority

I know I’m not the only one who references performances (and performers) by the costume and props they had. It is just so much easier to remember a routine if the poler was dress as a bedazzled mermaid than if they were wearing a basic black 2 piece set. This is not to say you should do something out of character for your performance, but just think about what your outfit (and props) communicates to the audience and judges. If you are walking onstage in that basic black set you can look like any other student in pole class. Your performance is a special occasion, make sure to dress for it!

4. Pay attention to the details

You and your competitors’ routines are going to overlap, it’s just going to happen. You will have some of the same tricks, maybe even the same song, as similar costume, whatever. What can make YOU stand out are the details – that’s pointed toes, straight legs, pretty climbs, great transitions. Those are all the things that make a performance stand out as polished, professional, and memorable. Unfortunately, people often forgo perfecting those elements in the pursuit of more difficult tricks – don’t forget the basics and create a can’t miss performance!

5. Take the audience on a journey

What better way to make your performance stick in the minds of judges and audience members then by telling a story or taking them on an emotional journey?! If your performance is one note, staying at the same emotional level, what is there to remember? A cool trick maybe, but that’s it! You don’t have to do the Lord of Rings of pole performances to get attention, just simply take your audience somewhere. A few types of journeys to explore: going from one emotion to another, transforming from one thing to another, solving a problem, conquering a foe, etc. There is no end to the stories you can tell with pole!

6 Emotional Post Competition Stages We All Go Through

We all know about the roller coaster of emotions that precede a PSO competition, but that doesn’t mean the second you step off the stage those crazy emotions end. Check the 6 Emotional Post Competition Stages We All Go Through:

1. Exhilaration

There is nothing better than the moment you get off stage after finishing your competition piece. Even if you didn’t have a perfect run, you completed something awesome! It is nothing short of exhilarating!  You can ride that high through the rest of the competition and maybe even into the next day. It will get you though the immediate fatigue and onto the next phase…

2. Relief

After the adrenaline of competition dies down you are just thankful for being done with it! You survived – WOOHOO!! The marathon training sessions and late night dress rehearsals are over. At this point you just want to get away from the crowds and exhale. Treat yourself and your friends or significant other (who had to put up with your non-stop poling) to a relaxing dinner to celebrate you are finished!

3. Exhaustion

What comes after relief? Your body suddenly realizing how tired it is. Ugh, all those aches and pains you powered through to get to competition day come back with a vengeance! You’ve been poling almost everyday for the months leading up to the competition and now you just need to veg out on the couch and catch up on your Netflix. While watching your fellow competitors might inspire your future pole journey, it is totally normal for you to take a break before embarking on a new path.

4. Depression

The not-so-fun, but completely normal after effect of competing: depression. You’ve just spent several months of your life focused on a singular goal. Every action you took – from the food you ate to the music you listened to – was done for the specific purpose of creating your dream competition piece. Now that it is over all that focused energy has no where to go and it can put you in a funk that takes some time to get out of.

5. Recovery

Hopefully, you don’t get stuck in the low point of the post-competition emotions for too long. It can take some to get motivated to return to your normal training schedule and that’s okay. Try taking different types of aerial classes or pole classes that focus on the fun or sexy movement and not tricks. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and get pumped about new elements in your aerial journey.

6. Inspired

Depending on yourtraining regimen and the type of poler or aerialist you are it may be weeks or months before you are really excited about your apparatus again. It might even feel like the divine inspiration you received the first time around will never come back. I promise you it will. Whether it’s a new trick or the perfect song, something will get you inspired to compete again!

8 Negative Thoughts Every Pole and Aerial Competitor Has

You are probably well aware of the amount of work that goes into creating a competition routine – the long hours rehearsing, pouring over music and costume ideas, trying out new combos, training your flexibility, etc. These are all stresses you expect to deal with when competing. What you may not be prepared for is the mental work that goes into it too.

Here are 8 negative thoughts every competitor has and how to combat them:

1. I’m going to be the worst one.

You might be one of the many competitors that go into a PSO competition without silver and gold medals dancing in your head. Your reason for participating could be anything; gaining performance experience, getting more focused training, awesome pole pics, whatever. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a little part of you desperately concerned you will end up last in your category.

So lets break it down: What does it mean to be last in your category?
It means that on the day that you performed, at the time that you performed, 4-5 people decided that 1 or more people fit the requirements of the category better. That’s it.
On a different day, at a different time, even with different judges, the outcome might be different. It does not mean that you are a bad poler or a bad person, in fact quite the opposite, as to even commit to competing takes a level of strength and determination most don’t have. Remember that you are awesome to start with and your placement does not define you!

2. I’m not thin/pretty/perfect looking enough to compete.

Think you are the only one dealing with body image issues while competing? Think again!
You are literally putting yourself out there to be judged. Plus we regularly watch and compare ourselves to our favorite pole stars – often genetically blessed humans whose job it is to train for pole year round.  So it is no wonder that training for a competition can bring your insecurities out in full force.

However, you aren’t going to let it stop you from obtaining your goal and here is how:

  1. Stop only watching videos of pole stars inspiration. Search the different PSO competitions on YouTube and get inspired by the many varied bodied men and women who compete!
  2. Make sure you love your costume AND feel comfortable with it. It is important to feel good in what you are wearing!
  3. Realize that as in most things in life, only you can see your flaws, everyone else doesn’t know they exist or are too busy watching you be amazing on stage.
  4. Know that if you have a non-traditional aerial body that simply by putting yourself out there you are inspiring so many other would-be aerialists to do the same!

3. I’m going to make a fool of myself.

As aerialist we are also artists and so our performances, whether silly, joyful, angry, or sad, are very personal. We pour ourselves into every movement. Our routines are actually created with blood, sweat, and tears. SO there is a very real concern that not only will the judges and audience not understand you and your piece, but that they may see your very personal performance as silly.

First, let me commend you for putting yourself out there! That is not an easy thing to do, but you are not alone. Everyone competing and every aerialist in the audience understands what it is like to be in your position. Yes, there is a possibility that they won’t understand your concept or story, but they will understand and respect your passion. You could trip over your feet walking to the pole or decide perform in a gorilla mask and no one is going to think you are a fool. Taking chances is what moves art forward and you will be respected, if not celebrated for it!

4. My friends and family aren’t going to get it.

A PSO competition is the perfect place to introduce your love of pole or lyra to friends and family. It’s in a professional environment, suited to all ages and structured similarly to gymnastic or ice skating competitions. Even grandma doesn’t have an excuse to be offended…but that doesn’t mean she won’t.

Your performance is about you and while, yes, it would be fantastic if grannie got it, it is not your job to make her understand what you love to do. If your friends or family aren’t going to be their to support you then you don’t need them there to bring you down on an already stressful day. If you want to get them just as passionate about it, then maybe start off with an intro class you can do together or a smaller studio party that won’t force them to be surrounded by aerialists a full 8 hours.

5. I’m going to fall off the pole.

This has to be the #1 secret freak out of every competitor because I hear this concern whispered from poler to poler all the time. Here’s the thing, adrenaline is a powerful grip aid. My informal survey of fellow competitors and performers confirms that our hands become magically and perfectly grippy with a combination of adrenaline, nerves, and sheer will to grip!

Yes, you should be smart, i.e. test out the poles on the day of, train in non-ideal pole conditions, figure out your perfect grip aid combo, etc. However, trust that your body will step up to the challenge – IT WILL! …and if it doesn’t well the next point will work well for you..

6. I going to forget EVERYTHING.

The nightmare: You step on stage looking gorgeous and full of excitement. You walk to your starting position, with each step you are confidently staring down the judges, then the music starts and …..nothing, absolutely nothing. Your mind has gone blank and you can’t remember any of your carefully choreographed routine.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have had this happen to me about mid-way through a public pole performance… so your concerns aren’t crazy. There is, however, a fun and easy solution to this problem!
How do you face down the nightmare of forgetting your routine? By practicing freestyling to your song. Yup, that simple. If you know your music forwards and backwards a momentary lapse in memory is just an excuse to freestyle to your mind kicks back into gear. And if you never remember know that some of the most beautiful performances that have connected with audiences have been freestyle!

7. My routine is too easy.

Working at a pole studio and training around other competitors this is a big concern I overhear again and again. “My routine is too simple!”, “I don’t even have any difficult tricks”, “Everyone is going to have flexy moves”, “I have too many flexy moves”, “I have a moment where I take a breathe and I should really fill that space with another pole trick”….

First off, what may feel easy and simple to you is likely not easy and simple for your competitors. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, we all have our strengths and weakness. For example, maybe you’ve been doing cartwheels since you were a kid and feel like it’s too easy to put in the routine, however a large portion of the pole population (myself included) have never been able to do one – so what to you is easy peasy is crazy impressive to the rest of us.

Think about this, don’t you want your moves to feel comfortable? That way you can focus on delivering a compelling performance without stressing out about completing the moves!

8. I’m not good enough.

All of the above negative thoughts can really be boiled down to this single concern: “what if I am not good enough?”. That thought is one that sticks in the brain, doesn’t it? It hides in dark corners ready to pop out at our most vulnerable moments and it is a much more difficult to defeat.

This is one that I can’t write a quick and snappy solution to as it is a different, unique issue to each of us, However, what gets you start on beating back this negative thought is to figure out what it actually it. What does “not good enough” mean to you? Once you answer that question, and that might be a question that requires the help of professionals, you can start to take away it’s power.

You expect competing to stress you out, tire your body, eat away at your free time. You are prepared for those things. However, if you feel these negative thoughts creeping in, well, know you are not alone and your aerial brothers and sisters are here to help!

5 Cheers You Will Hear At A Pole Competition

There is nothing better than walking on stage to the hoots and hollers of a pumped up audience or being a part of the crowd ready to cheer on the competitors! The energy, the excitement, the random exclamations – what’s not to love? In fact, if you pay attention to the audience long enough you realize that polers and the ones who love them, have a few favorite cheers they shout out time and again.

Here are the top 5 cheers you will hear at a pole competition and their uses:

1. The “WOO”

Who uses it: EVERYONE, but especially large groups of pole friends in unison.

When it’s used: For everything! There is no wrong way to use a “woo”!

A favorite of pole audiences everywhere, there is no wrong way to use a “woo” Personally, I like to start off the whole watching experience with a good loud “WOO!” just to make sure the poler knows they are appreciated. Just like when ladies use it at a bachelorette party, this cheer gets the party started and keeps it going all event long!

2. The “GET IT!”

Who uses it: Usually by people who know the performer and what’s about to happen or particularly astute audience members who can guess a big move is coming.

When is it used: Moments before and during a particularly tricky move or combo.

This phrase often gets yelled out by friends and family of the performer. They have likely watched more rehearsals then they can count and know the routine almost as well as the performer does. So they know where the tricky parts are or when the big hero moves are coming up. There is nothing like a well placed “GET IT!” to give the poler the extra push to get through a difficult spot. I’m also a big fan of using this cheer when a performer is doing one of my personal pole goal moves!

3. The “YESSSSSS”

Who uses it: Audience members when they realize something particularly awesome is happening.

When it is used: When the performer attacks their moves so completely that you are giving the audience life.

The “YESSSSSS” often comes about, not when the poler is doing a technically difficult move, but when the performer takes even their most basic choreo to the next level with an insane amount of attitude or sexiness. Or it could be a crazy difficult move, but the performer manages to do it with such ease and confidence that the audience has to show their appreciation with a big ol’ “YESSSSSS!!!”.

4. The “WHA-AAAT?!” or “WTF”

Who uses it: Pole newbies and awe-struck audience members.

When is it used: When something so incredible or crazy happens on stage you can’t even comprehend.

As an audience member you sometimes just can’t help yourself and a loud “WTF!” escapes your lips before you realize that maybe you shouldn’t be dropping F-bombs. However, what are you supposed to do when the poler onstage does a truly impossible feat of acrobatic perfection?! When a performer does something so mesmerizing and so magical your brain just can’t grasp what is happening. The only thing you can do is stare and say “WHA-AAAT?!” in appreciation!

5. The *silence*

Who uses it: The entire audience all at once, all performance long.

When is it used: When no words can explain the beauty happening on stage.

You might think silence is a bad thing and it usually isn’t the ideal audio experience for the performer, but trust me sometimes dead silence means something pretty awesome. When you perform something so beautiful and fluid, and are so emotionally connected to your performance, you can leave the audience in awe. Silent awe that is, as no one would think to interrupt you with a loud cheer. Just keep your flow going and enjoy the positive (if silent) energy the audience is sending your way!

6 Competition Ready Pole Shorts For Men!

Now it’s the boys turn!

My first post on “competition ready” pole shorts covered women’s shorts that, well, covered the gluteal fold, but it left out the boys. To be honest, it was tricky to find pole shorts specifically for men and I know many who chose to rock women’s pole bottoms or underwear instead. Those are great options when you can’t find exactly what you are looking for, however why not expand your resources with these 6 Competition Ready Pole Shorts for Men:

1. Men’s Shorts by Backbone

Designed to keep all the important bits covered and in their place, these shorts are not only functional for the male competitor, but sits at an attractive length. Not too long, not too short, these look great on everyone.

  • Details – can be worn as swimwear too!
  • Colors – light blue with black
  • Sizes – small, medium, large

2. Contoured Short Shorts by Riversedge Dancewear

These are a great option for basic shorts that you can customize for your performance. At an affordable price you can pick these up in a ton of colors! The length seems to vary on the model so these may work for some better than others.

  • Details – comes in both nylon/lycra and cotton/lycra
  • Colors – every color of the rainbow
  • Sizes – S-6XL

3. Yoga Cross Training Shorts by Eros Sport

I love the clean lines of these classic short shorts! They feature super flattering style lines and a flat waist band (i.e. no puckering). These shorts are also low-waisted which is a nice option for those who want to show off their abs!

  • Details – flattering style lines, double lined in the front
  • Colors – black, charcoal
  • Sizes – S – 3XL

4. High Performance Dance Shorts by Ainslewear

These shorts are SUPER soft and lightweight, don’t they look cozy?! I could totally imagine these being a part of a contemporary pole performance costume. It is hard to tell exactly where these sit as they vary on the model, but don’t be afraid of getting a tailor involved if you need something hemmed.

  • Colors – Black, Purple, Teal, Blue
  • Sizes – XS-L

5. Silkskyn Bikeshorts by Motionwear

I know I’m a lady, but I love my high-waisted shorts and figured guys might like the option too. These shorts are soft, micro-fiber fabric that wicks moisture away from the body. They also come in several skin tone options – something that is quite tricky to find in men’s shorts.

  • Details – high-waisted
  • Colors – black, shadow, nude, chocolate, navy
  • Sizes – S-L

6. Racer Stripes Shorts by Lignes

Men don’t have a lot of different style options, basics seemed to be covered, but where are the fun stuff? Well, I couldn’t find a lot out there, but these are some really cute neon racer shorts to get you started in the right direction. Maybe not the most versatile option, but you’ll be sure to stand out!

  • Details – silver racing stripe
  • Color – lime green with silver
  • Sizes – S-L

5 Mistakes I Made The First Time Competing...

So in one of my earlier posts I announced that I would be competing in PPC again this year….well that didn’t happen. I know I’m not the only one who signed up and then had to drop out, but I should have known better. This was my second time around, I knew all the work that needed to go into competing, I knew the emotional toll. I had done it all before, BUT this time I ignored past lessons learned andthrew myself into training with all the focus and commitment of kid at Disneyland on a sugar high.

Since I am hoping to go another round with the routine I started for PPC this year at Nationals, I want to get my booty in gear and make sure the lessons I learned STICK! So learn from my mistakes: here are the 5 things that I will NOT be doing this time around:

1. Not Setting Realistic Time Commitment Goals

Here’s what you need time for: creating/choreographing your routine, practice, additional pole classes, cross training, costume/hair/make-up creation, dress rehearsals, music editing, and more! Don’t forget you need time for transportation and any physical maintenance you do in preparation for your performance (i.e. hair removal, spray tans). That’s a whole lot to get done in what is usually 2-3 months.

It is, however, totally doable! What I’ll be doing next time around is planning out a careful schedule ahead of time, first figuring out how much REALISTIC time I can commit to competing each week and working backwards. Of the list of time commitments I posted above several can only be done by you, but other items can be delegated to helpful friends and family. Also don’t fall into the trap of believing you have to train at the Pro level for an Amateur performance. If you have the time and energy – great, if you don’t no worries, do what fits into your life and goals!

2. Not Having a Realistic Budget

Here is what you will have to purchase if you compete: entry, possibly tickets for friends and family, professional pictures and video, costume/hair/make-up, pole classes, studio rental/open pole sessions, cross training classes, day-of parking, transportation, and more! Yup, competing can cost you a pretty penny if you aren’t prepared or you wait til the last minute to get competition ready. I made that mistake my second time around by waiting til it was too late to make my costume and realizing I would either have to purchase a much more expensive one or lose the visual I was going for.

So how do you end up NOT having sticker shock on competition day? Again, decide how much you are willing to spend ahead of time. You can compete on a surprisingly low budget if you can modify old pole wear to be your costume, train at home, do your own hair and makeup, and purchase you pictures and video together. Or maybe you have an unlimited budget. Either way, don’t waste money on the little costs that sneak up on you because you didn’t prepare ahead of time!

3. Forgetting to Cross Train

So you’ve decided to compete, what is the first thing you do? Take as many pole classes as possible and train on your home pole 24/7! Yeah, that is a sure fire way to do some damage to your body. Not only do you run the risk of injury and creating a lopsided body (unless you run your full routine on both sides), but you are missing out on the amazing benefits of cross training. Also if you’re like me you start to resent the hell out of your pole after having to force yourself to work on it day and night.

This go around I’ll be including cross training in my competition schedule! Personally I have seen the direct effect hoop/lyra practice has had on my pole training, because it is a more balanced workout, my more acro-focused pole moves are much stronger and more comfortable than ever before. Add in an additional non-pole class or session into your weekly practice to give yourself a break from the toll of pole and invigorate your routine with new physicality. Don’t forget to get in proper stretching too!

4. Not Improving My Diet Sooner

I could be a lot healthier in my eating habits PERIOD, but when it comes to competing there are no excuses I should have changed my diet as soon as I signed up. Getting to the studio was a pain in the butt because I was feeling sluggish and tired. When you are in training mode you are going non-stop and your regular diet, not matter how healthy it might be, is likely not up to the challenge. As with not cross training, not taking on a healthier training diet can lead to sickness, injury, and just plain feeling crappy. Don’t put more obstacles in your way!

I am not a nutritionist so I won’t be giving you any hard and fast advice in this area, but I believe as polers and aerialists we have an intrinsic connection to our bodies. More than the average person, we know when something feels good or bad, when food is hurting or helping us. If it is in your budget to meet up with a nutritionists or someone you trust to give sound health advice figure out your competition diet ahead of time. If not, listen to what your body is telling you and know that what you eat pre-training is not the same as what your body will want in competition mode.

5. Expecting Giant Leaps in Skills

I normally pole in-studio twice a week, I try to then get in an additional aerial class and a couple home practices (which are more like rolling around my home pole than anything else lol) SO I thought when I started my competition training of pole 4-5 times a week I was going to see a huge jump in my skill level. Yeah, not so much! Yes, I started to learn more new moves, but none of them ever got competition ready, and the majority of the time I needed to spend choreographing and then perfecting the actual piece.

First, realize that you will not be able to learn a bevy of new, crazy tricks in a solid enough way to include them in your piece. It sucks I know, but being honest with yourself frees you to create unique transitions and variations on tried-and-true moves. You could be the person every other dancer is copying after they see your one-of-a-kind take on a fireman spin! Second, give yourself 1 goal move. If you just HAVE to include a new and tricky move, just include one. Again, be realistic with yourself: it will not only take time to get the new move, but even more time to get it solid enough for competition. By limiting yourself to just one fancy new move, you get to have the excitement of including a new move without the stress of it taking all of your training time!

Hopefully you got something from the lessons I had to learn the hard way. I’ll see you at Nationals ready to rock the stage!

Top 5 Reasons to Judge a PSO Event

The decision to compete is a big one. There’s so much commitment involved: time, energy, money, not to mention blood, sweat, and tears (and sequins). PSO events are so fun, and such an incredible way to get inspired and connect with your fellow polers, but competing isn’t going to be the right choice for everyone. Even if it isn’t the right time for you to compete, there’s another option to consider: being a judge!

I speak from personal experience: I competed in the inaugural PPC, held in May of 2012, and since then, I have attended every PPC event as an audience member, as well as competing again at Pacific Aerial 2014. But what I had never done was judge. Until this year, I didn’t feel like I had quite enough to offer in that role, but I thought 2015 might be a good chance for me to stretch my wings. I signed up with the hopes of learning, not just about judging itself, but also about performance in general. I was not disappointed! My experience was incredibly fun, inspiring, and beyond educational on many levels.

Photo above: Judging silliness by 2015 Pacific Pole judges Jane Rose, Arloa Reston, Nadine Young, Danielle Christine, Jamers Thee Apostol, and Kate Cotruvo.

Photo above: Judging silliness by 2015 Pacific Pole judges Jane Rose, Arloa Reston, Nadine Young, Danielle Christine, Jamers Thee Apostol, and Kate Cotruvo.

Curious about why you should try judging a PSO Event? Here are some fantastic reasons to sign up:

You get to watch the show from the front row, for free!

Seriously, it’s the best. Front row, unobstructed view of awesome performances!!! Everything is truly brighter from those seats, and you get to soak up all of that yummy energy before anyone else. The performance have such a deep impact when you’re so close. It’s absolutely thrilling.

You get to give back to your fellow dancers!

From the moment the first dancer stepped on stage, I had such tremendous empathy for each of the performers. I wanted them all to shine and do their best, and I wanted to my best for them by giving them good notes with constructive criticism, tips for next time, and praise for their hard work. I was not alone in this – each judge I spoke to also wanted to help these dancers be their best for the future and to reward them for their time spent with us.

You learn a ton about what makes a good performance!

This was HUGE for me. I already had an idea of what I personally liked in performances, but watching with judging in mind – and all of the different elements that go into it, from extension and control to stage presence and musicality – was beyond informative. I learned so much about how to make an impact as a performer (so much so that I wrote a piece on it), but also, I took away invaluable information to pass to those I coach and teach.

Being a judge gives you powerful information that you can take back to students. I strongly encourage any instructor or studio owner to donate their time for a day and sign up to judge. You’ll walk away a stronger coach, and you’ll be able to empower your students to do even better.

Even if you don’t teach, being a judge allows you the space to learn as a fellow performer. You get to see what lands and what doesn’t, where people bring power to performances, and where there are things to fix…and all of it can apply to your own work, no matter what your level. It’s a fantastic way to get inspired and to learn, plus you’ll get front row seats to cool combos you may not have seen before!

You get to have fun!

Judging was a lovely break from the stress of competing. I wasn’t frantic all day, and I got to wear leggings and a hoodie the entire time. As an added bonus, many of my friends were also on judging panels, which meant that we got to have fun in between rounds! For us, that meant sitting in the hallway, being mouthy, eating together, and trying acro yoga moves we had no idea how to do. I would say that I had way more fun with my friends as a judge than I did as a competitor or audience member. If you’re thinking about signing up, recruit your friends to do it with you!

Photo above: Acro fun with 2015 Pacific Pole judges Kate Cotruvo, Jamers Thee Apostol, Nadine Young, Danielle Christine, and Seanmichael Rau.

Photo above: Acro fun with 2015 Pacific Pole judges Kate Cotruvo, Jamers Thee Apostol, Nadine Young, Danielle Christine, and Seanmichael Rau.

You can set your schedule!

The nice thing is that you can commit as much or as little time as you want – if you only want to do a half day, you can specify that at sign up! PSO does a great job of adjusting the schedule to meet the specifications of the judges. I chose to be available for more time and more levels, to get a fuller experience. I ended up judging both days of the competition, morning through afternoon, and was on panels ranging from Level 1 through 3 of pole, including Championship, Dramatic, and Entertainment. I also sat on panels for Lyra Levels 1 and 2, since I competed on Lyra in the fall. I knew plenty of people who only did a couple of panels, and they still had a rich experience. It really can work for anyone’s schedule!

Overall, I had such a fantastic time as a judge! My experience not only got me excited about doing it again, but it also reignited my interest in performing again! I would encourage anyone who’s been curious to sign up! If you’re on the fence, or hesitant for any reason, just remember: this is an opportunity to get to learn, to support your friends, and to see all of the epic moments from the front row! It’s worth it. 

The 10 Emotional Phases of A Pole Competitor

Are you a competitor in an upcoming pole competition? Have you started training? Are you feeling the dramatic ups and downs of creating a winning routine? Does it feel like an all-consuming roller coaster of emotions? Don’t worry, you are not alone!

These are the 10 emotional phases of a pole competitor:

Phase 1:  The ” Hmm… Competing Might Be Interesting…” Phase

You’ve watched a bunch of competition videos, seen your friends compete, and now your thinking of trying your hand at it as well. Well, it looked like your pole buddies were having fun and this would give your friends and family and opportunity to see your perform…hmmm maybe you should compete…

Phase 2: The “Inspiration Strikes” Phase

The muse of pole dance has inspired you! You’ve discovered a song, costume, concept, whatever that you MUST share with the world! This is a great phase, full of creative brainstorming and exciting late night choreographing. This is the honeymoon phase … it won’t last…

Phase 3: The “I Guess I’m Signing Up” Phase

Psych yourself up and hit “submit” on your competitor submission before your nerves get the best of you!

Phase 4: The “Let’s Do It” Phase

You’ve committed yourself to the process, now it is time to get to work! You’ve created a game plan and are determined to stick to it. You might have already started to tell friends and family, letting them know that they won’t be seeing you much in the weeks to come.

Phase 5: The “So This is Harder Than I Though it Would Be” Phase

… and the honeymoon phase is over. You’ve started to put in the real work now and you’ve discovered it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Those dreams you have of accomplishing a bunch of crazy new tricks in time for your performance, well they clearly aren’t going to happen. Oh, and it is going to take you 1 minute to do what you were planning to do in 30 seconds… sigh… this is going to be difficult!

Phase Six: The “Some of This is Actually Working” Phase

Okay, so the routine might not be what you actually set out to do, but hey it’s turning into something! That new move you got taught while not working on your routine, well its magically works perfectly. You’ve shown a couple people the bones of your piece and they like it. YAY! It is all working out…

Phase 7: The “Everything Sucks” Phase

Nothing is working out! Everything is the worst! What the hell were you thinking signing up! You are messing up the parts of the routine you knew by heart, you still don’t have an ending, your body is tired, you’re mentally drained, and the competition is only a two weeks away *EEP*

Phase 8: The “Eh, This Should Do” Phase

This phase usually happens the week of the competition. Its when a sort of calm comes over you and you have accepted that you have been doing the best you can. You have accepted what you are able to do and what you have had to leave out of your routine. It may not be perfect, likely far from it, but hey it is going to be a valuable experience one way or another.

PSO_Butterflies.jpg

Phase 9: The “Oh God! Oh God! I’m About to Compete” Phase

It is the day of the competition and you are doing your best to not freak out. Your stomach is doing somersaults, you need to pee every 5 minutes, you are starving, but there is no way you could eat, and oh yeah, you definitely need to vomit. Just breathe through it the best you can and kick ass on stage!

Phase 10: The “I Did It” Phase

Woohoo! You just competed!! Congrats! Hopefully everything went as planned and you can relax and enjoy the rest of the performances. If you had some performance hiccups, don’t stress, it happens and I promise most of the time the audience can’t see your mistakes. No matter what happens you did something great, you put yourself out there, and you should be celebrated for it!

Competition Day Packing List

February 28th kicks of Pole Sport Organization’s 2015 competition season with Pacific Pole Championships in Los Angeles, and if you have ever competed before you know that means lots of stresses, adrenalin, tears, and cheers. In the days leading up you are focused completely on your performance piece, which unfortunately means some important competition day preparation might be left to the last minute or forgotten completely.

The last thing you want to do on the day of your competition is deal with missing grip aid, a ripped seam, or hunger pains. So make sure you are prepared for every situation competition day and you don’t leave anything at home with this handy packing list:

Snacks: If you are anything like me stress and butterflies make it nearly impossible for me to eat anything substantial before performing, but you want to make sure that you are in peak condition for your performance and that means eating. Pack a variety of small snacks like nuts, fruit, and energy bars so you are ready for whatever comes your way.

Sweatshirt/Jacket: IT WILL BE COLD! You have been warned!

Baby Wipes: Perfect for quickly wiping off grip aids, dirty floor grim, sweat, and more after you perform. It will get you feeling refreshed and ready to watch the rest of the competition.

Spare Costume: Hopefully you’ll never have to touch your spare costume, BUT what if the worse happens – an irreparable rip, a big stain on your white costume, a strap breaks, etc? You’ll be thankful you packed a matching top and bottom that your can perform in in an emergency!

Safety Pins/Double Stick Tape: Take care of minor wardrobe mishaps on the fly with these competition day staples. Even if you don’t think you need them, you never know what will happen the day of, and you don’t need the added stress of a wardrobe malfunction to ruin your day.

Suggestions for Additional Items to Pack:

  • Small sewing kit
  • Pasties
  • Book/Magazine (something to do while waiting that won’t stress you out)
  • Band aids
  • Duct tape (duct tape can save a costume, repair a broken suitcase, cover open cuts and pole burns on your foot while not falling off on the pole just be sure to put a band aid or gauze on underneath)

Forgot something on competition day? Your fellow polers can come to your rescue! Don’t be afraid to ask the other competitors to borrow hairspray or check your booty coverage. Just be sure to respect their space and not interrupt anyone who is about to go on or is purposefully keeping to themselves.

Now have fun and break a leg!

What are your competition day must haves?

Light Your Performance Fire - 5 Resources to Inspire Your Next Pole Performance

Are you planning to compete in 2015 or, like me, just signed up to compete in PSO’s Pacific Pole Championships? Then inspiration and a guiding performance motivation is probably what you are looking for right about now!

Sometimes inspiration hits us like a flash of lighting, other times we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and really work to discover our performance muse. I want to encourage those who might be going through an inspiration drought to look for it in new places and in new ways.

So if you are struggling to find that spark that has you choreographing in your sleep I’ve got some places for you to start!

1. Watch Musicals & Music Videos

Musicals and music videos are the perfect inspiration for a competition piece because along with music and choreography to pull from you have a story already in place! This gives your character motivation and a story arc to focus on in your choreography. It also makes it a lot easier to express exact emotions through your movement thereby creating an even more compelling piece for the audience and judges to watch.

You also don’t need to look to these sources for direct inspiration, but take snippets from their pieces to enhance yours. Musicals especially are great at featuring unique movement that can communicate specific emotions and character in a way that most pole dancers would not normally think of. And music videos can bring you the latest in new choreography styles and dance moves to keep your piece feeling fresh. All this can be put together to build a one-of-a-kind, emotionally charged, story driven pole performance that will keep your audience enthralled!

Favorite Musicals for Inspiration:

  • An American In Paris (check out my favorite snippet above)
  • Hairspray
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
  • Little Shop of Horrors
  • Singing in the Rain
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • Moulin Rouge

Favorite Music Videos for Inspiration:

Love Book by Chainfoto on 500px

2. Characters and Stories from Books & Film

What stories have captured your imagination? Which characters do you identify with? Which characters intrigue you? What fictional worlds do you want to be apart of? Dance is one of the few places, outside of Halloween, that it is not only completely acceptable, but encouraged that you dress up and take on another character – so take advantage of it!

This is the time to scour your book and film libraries to find the stories that have stuck with you. If they have you daydreaming then there is definite performance potential there. Things to look for in these resources: clear visuals that describe a character, the overall feel of the world, and what do the characters have overcome, where do they start and end. How does the author or director communicate these things? How can it be translated into pole dance? Use these questions to motivate your choreography process. The pole is a magical place where we can become anything and anyone, whatever you have been fantasizing about this is your opportunity to bring it to life!

Favorite Sources for Character & Story Inspiration:

  • YA Novels – Check out the all encompassing worlds of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Mortal Instruments, etc
  • Fairy Tales – From light and fluffy Disney versions to the dark and disturbing Grimm versions
  • Action Adventure Movies – Be your own hero! Look to Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, James Bond, the Goonies for heroic performance inspiration
  • Animated movies – This resource is filled with bright color, over the top movement, and creative story telling devices…and I think we are all dying to see Pixar’s “UP” as a pole routine (just me?)!

ballet shoes by Pedro Corrêa Animus-Art on 500px

3. Look to Other Form of Dance & Movement

Amaze your audience and breathe new life into old moves by incorporating elements from other dance styles and forms of movement. The simplest of spins can become so much more by adding elements of ballet and something completely different by introducing hip hop. Also look outside the dance world, what other forms of fitness have you done in you life? You can bring the meditative flow of yoga to your instrumental piece or the sharp and powerful movement of karate to your Kill Bill performance or steps from Zumba to your floorwork. There is a whole wide world of movement out there just ready to be taken advantage of and with it you can bring something to the stage your audience has never seen before!

Places to Find Movement Inspiration:

  • So You Think You Can Dance – A dance competition tv show
  • Dancing with the Stars – Another dance competition show
  • Kung fu movies – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon specifically comes to mind as it is filled with surreal, dance-like fights
  • Rewatch workout videos with your performance in mind – old aerobic tapes are especially perfect if you are doing an 80s themed piece
  • Search dance competitions on Youtube – my favorite is Streetstar, an international Voguing competition, but also look for ballroom dance and cheer competitions

day one ninety seven. vlogger status. by Kelly Stewart on 500px

4. Record EVERYTHING

Seriously record EVERYTHING! Don’t get near a pole without your smartphone at the ready. You never know when polespiration will strike or when a mistake will turn into the “WOW” moment of your performance, so make sure to keep track of all those happy accidents by videoing it all. Most of us are haunted by that one totally amazing pole move we once magically fell into, but have now completely forgotten – don’t let that happen to you!

This is also an extremely useful (and I would say necessary) tool when training your competition piece so that you can review your runs and see exactly what your audience sees.

Things to Record:

  • Your pole practice
  • Marking your piece out
  • Freestyling
  • Playing around on your home pole
  • Rolling around on the floor (aka floorwork)
  • Other people dancing to your song (of course ask permission first)
  • Anytime you see someone else do a move that inspires you (of course ask permission first)
  • EVERYTHING!

Journal and sharp colored pencils by carolyn lagattuta on 500px

5. Keep a Performance Dream Journal

I know I’m not the only one who wakes up in the middle of the night with an amazing new pole combo or an idea for a costume! Amazing ideas come to use when we least expect it and much like in the case of #4 you don’t want to miss out on a 1 in a million idea just because you forgot it the next day. Carry a journal with you at all times or use your phone to track every moment of inspiration. That way you can easily call back to the moment of brilliance when its actually time to practice and put your routine together.

Things to Put in Your Performance Journal:

  • Any snippet of choreography no matter how small or incoherent
  • Stick figure drawings of moves
  • Costume & hair/makeup sketches
  • Magazine tear outs of visual inspiration
  • Motivational quotes
  • Any performance imagery that comes to mind
  • Any thoughts on emotion and story that you want to communicate

What is inspiring your next pole performance?

How do you find inspiration?

5 Things You Should NOT Worry About When Competing

Your heart is pounding, your adrenaline is pumping, and it feels like a whole swarm of butterflies are in your stomach. You are waiting back stage for your turn to perform in a PSO competition. Maybe its your first competition ever or your 20th, but the feeling is the same as you wait for your name to be called. At this moment you can make a choice – give into the nerves or breathe through them.

This is were the experienced performer has the advantage. Learning to calm your pre-show nerves comes with lots of practice. But that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate that practice into your competition training by recognizing the things that are going to set your nerves on the fritz and learning to just breathe. Here are:

1. If You Did Enough

Enough practice, enough run-throughs, enough cross training, enough WHATEVER! Backstage, jumping around hopped up on adrenaline is not the time to start questioning if you did enough. The fact is you did the best you could and even if you would do it differently next time you can’t change anything in that moment. Playing the coulda, woulda, shoulda game has literally no way to help you pre-performance. Take all those thoughts and leave them for the post-game review where it could actually be put to good use towards your next performance!

2. How Everyone Else is Doing

One of the benefits to competing is it gives you a great opportunity to show off your pole skills to family and friends. Heck I even wrote about it as a great reason to compete in my last post! But you don’t want to be stuck playing babysitter when all your attention and focus needs to be on the performance. You could drive yourself to distraction worrying about who is sitting where,  if they’ll find the venue, or even if they are going to “get” pole dance at all. Get your significant other or a buddy to take over family duty and just let go of the responsibility. You will have plenty of time afterwards to enjoy the competition with family and friends – leave the pre-show time just for you.

3. What Everyone Else is Doing

Waiting backstage it is tough to not be curious what your competitors are doing and very tempting to sneak a peek at those performing ahead of you. While it might be natural to be curious, it is also a fantastic way to undermine your performance. You need to focus on the awesomeness that is your competition piece and not stress over the tricks someone else chose to put in theirs. Like reason #1 watching back competitor performances can be a great way to improve your performance for next time, but it will do you no good (other then force you to second guess yourself) to think about it in the here and now. This goes for the way others warm up or their pre-show rituals. Just because you see people in your division working some crazy over split stretch doesn’t mean you need to bust it out as well. Be confident in your vision!

4. How the Audience Reacts

This has to be the element that threw me for the biggest loop as a newbie competitor.  Most of us in the pole world are used to the immediate hoots and hollers of our fellow pole students that follow us from our first step on stage through our ending pose. However, as we move out into the larger pole world the reactions of the audience may not meet our expectations and the emotional boost of instant cheers may not be there. The audience could have been sitting in their seats since 8 am or just don’t have a personal connection to you and are going to be a bit stingier with the applause or a hundred other things. Either way it can be hard to not take it personally, but analyzing the reasons mid-competition is only going to throw your performance off.  Allow the audience to feed into your performance, but not dictate it. Enjoy moments of praise, but don’t be beholden to your audience. You own the stage when you compete, go full out, and if the audience goes there with you – great! If not, they are missing out!

5. What Could Go Wrong

What’s a sure fire way to make sure you mess up in your pole performance? …think about it… Did you get “spend the minutes before walking on stage thinking about everything that could go wrong”? If you did, CONGRATS! Now you know exactly what you shouldn’t do. Don’t get me wrong knowing different exits out of difficult moves in case something goes wrong is important and knowing how to gracefully hide mistakes is something worth practicing, but that is all things to worry about in your early run-throughs. When the day of competition arrives trust your body because it knows what to do.

You can see a theme that runs through this list and its trust. Trusting your body, trusting your vision, trusting that no matter what happens on stage it will all work out. If you shut out those worries and learn to breathe I promise you it all will!

2015 Season Updates

Here’s a copy of the handout that we distributed at the Pole Expo, with a few small updates. You can read the complete Rules on the website here, that have been updated for the 2015 season.

GENERAL OVERVIEW OF POLE SPORT ORGANIZATION COMPETITIONS 

We are the largest professional and amateur competition in the world, and the original “inclusive” competition, meaning that anyone who registers is allowed to compete, regardless of age, gender, skill level, or location. No submission videos are required to enter our competitions, all you have to do is sign up!

We have 2 series: the Championship series and the Artistic series. The available events and levels listed below vary between the two series. The winners of the regional Championship Professional events move on to the U.S. National Pole Championships in the Championship Professional categories (men & women separated). The winners of the regional Artistic Professional events move on to the U.S. National Pole Championships in the Artistic Professional category (men & women combined, as the elements of evaluation are gender neutral).

EVENT TYPES

Championship: technical aspects weighed most heavily (ex. Difficulty of moves). Solo performance.

Dramatic: Intended to evoke emotions of sadness, angst, or pain from the audience, artistic elements weighed most heavily (ex. Stage presence, flow, interpretation). Solo performance.

Entertainment: Intended to evoke emotions of happiness, excitement, or laughter from the audience, artistic elements weighed most heavily (ex. Stage presence, flow, interpretation). Solo performance.

Showcase: performance only with no feedback. Solo, doubles or group performance.

Showcase Plus: performance with written comments only from judges. No scores, no placements. Solo, doubles, or group performance.

Doubles/Groups: between 2-6 performers.

Lyra: aerial hoop competition. Solo performance.

SKILL LEVELS

If you placed 1, 2 or 3, in an event that had 6 or more competitors at an event in 2014, you must move up one level for the 2015 season. Otherwise, levels are self-assessed.

Level 1: no inversions, not required to use both poles.

Level 2: inversions from the floor allowed, no aerial inversions, no aerial shoulder mounts. 3 points of contact at all times while inverted on the pole. “Inverted” is defined as hips higher than head.

Level 3: 3 points of contact at all times while inverted.

Level 4: all moves are allowed.

Professional: all moves are allowed, prize money available at the National level. Open to residents of specific U.S. states for the Championship series. Open to all U.S. citizens or residents for the Artistic series. Must compete at a regional event and place in order to move on to Nationals.

AGE GROUP CHANGES FOR 2015:

Age groups are being further divided* as follows:

Youth:  4 – 12 years of age as of February 28, 2015
Teen:  13-19 years of age as of February 28, 2015
Junior:  20-29 years of age as of February 28, 2015
Senior:  30-39 years of age as of February 28, 2015
Masters: 40+ years of age as of February 28, 2015

*Age groups may be combined at PSO’s discretion based upon number of competitors registered.

JUDGING FOR 2015:

Throughout 2014, Pole Sport Organization continued to work refine the computerized judging system based upon feedback from the judges themselves. We also created a Judging Practice Module (“JPM”) beta as an online aid to familiarize judges with the computerized system prior to the training sessions before the competitions. The JPM will be further refined in 2015, and our IT team is completing development of the PSO Judging Certification Program which will allow those interested in judging to utilize an intensive online training system to work become certified to judge each successive level.

INTRODUCTION OF ORDINAL-BASED JUDGING:

After extensive research and study of PSO results as well as systems that have been used in other artistic sports such as ground dance competitions and figure skating, PSO will be reverting to an ordinal-based placement system beginning in February 2015.

From a practical standpoint, the actual judging will not be affected, other than getting rid of the median scoring. Each competitor will still receive a score consisting of numerical scores based on the maximum allowed for each element at that level and a total score. In the past, PSO judges have been taught to use the total score to make sure that each competitors overall placement is where the judge intended it to be. This will remain the same. What will change is how the results are tabulated.

Even with training and the median calculation, because there is necessarily a subjective element to artistic sports, the possibility remains that one judge may be giving scores higher than the average while another may be giving scores lower than the average, yet the placement that each judge gives those same dancers may place them in the exact same order. As an extreme example, at the Professional level, where the maximum score is 100 points, one judge may give scores only in the 80-100 point range, while another may give scores only in the 60-70 range, but both judges may come up with the same order of finish.

Unlike a numerical system, an ordinal system assigns a rank order (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc) by which the placements can be sorted but which does not allow for a relative degree of difference between them. Since judges are trained to make sure that the placements of each competitor accurately reflects the order in which each judge has placed their performance for that event, assigning an ordinal more accurately reflects the overall placements by the judges and are less likely to be skewed if the individual scores differ greatly. Competitors will still receive the actual numerical scores from the judges, but only the ordinal-based results will be publicly posted.

For each judge, the computer will assign a point value based upon the number of competitors and the ranking given that competitor compared to the other competitors in that event. For example, in a group of 5competitors, first place would receive 5 points, second place 4 points, third place 3 points, fourth place 2 points and fifth place 1 point for each judge.

Highest and lowest ordinals for each competitor are still dropped from calculating the final marks to ensure that there remains no incentive for a judge to be biased in their placements of the competitors.

Where a judges scores has created a tied placement by that judge, then both competitors receive the higher mark, but then the next placement receives marks as if each competitor had not been tied (Judge 3 and Judge 4 in the example table shown above).

If two or more competitors are still tied, the tie-breaker procedure outlined on the PSO website will still be used to determine final placement.

The totals then will reflect the final placement for each competitor, but will not publicly reflect the allocation of points given to each competitor by each judge. That will be provided to each competitor individually.

Providing final placement by ordinal system will eliminate the need for the median calculation and will provide a more accurate reflection of the judges intention regardless of the whether the judge scored more generously or more stringently. In reviewing results from the last season, generally the final results will not be greatly affected, but it will lessen the potential for human error by a judge. In our continuing quest to provide you with the best possible judging system, we believe that you will appreciate the benefits of using the ordinal system!

PRIZE MONEY

Prize money will be available for the following divisions at 2015 Nationals:

Women’s Championship Professional event top three placements in each Region will automatically be qualified to compete at the Pole Sport Organization 2015 U.S. National Pole Championships (“USNPC”) on August 14-16, 2015, in Redondo Beach, CA, where the winner of the Championship Professional Women’s event will receive a cash prize of FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($5,000.00), second place will receive a cash prize of ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($1,000.00), and third place will receive a cash prize of FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($500.00).

Men’s Championship Professional event top three placements in each Region will automatically be qualified to compete at the Pole Sport Organization 2015 U.S. National Pole Championships (“USNPC”) on August 14-16, 2015, in Redondo Beach, CA, where the winner of the Men’s Championship Professional event will receive a cash prize of TWO THOUSAND AND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($2,500.00), second place will receive a cash prize of SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS ($750.00), and third place will receive a cash prize of THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS ($350.00) if 16 or more men compete at the regional level. If 15 or less men compete at the regional level, the winner of the Men’s Championship Professional event will receive a cash prize of ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($1,000.00).

Artistic Professional event top placements in each Region will automatically be qualified to compete at the Pole Sport Organization 2015 U.S. National Pole Championships (“USNPC”) on August 14-16, 2015, in Redondo Beach, CA, where the winner of the Artistic Professional event will receive a cash prize of ONE THOUSAND AND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($1,500.00), second place will receive a cash prize of SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS ($750.00), and third place will receive a cash prize of THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS ($350.00) if 16 or more dancers. compete at the regional level. If 15 or less dancers compete at the regional level, the winner of the Artistic Professional event will receive a cash prize of ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($1,000.00).