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!