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.
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!
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.