National Aerial Pole Art Thoughts

topsoftoesI had the wonderful opportunity to go to Los Angeles and compete in the National Aerial Pole Art Championship on May 18th. I had applied for the Neo division on a whim back in February and found out I had made it in about two weeks before the Florida Pole Fitness Championship, which was on March 15th. I got married on April 12th, so I didn’t have a lot of time to put together a routine. I really wanted to have a theme for my routine, so I found some music and edited two pieces together: My Jolly Sailor Bold from The Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and a random song I came across in my YouTube searches, something called Siren’s Call. I really loved my music, especially because it was so different from anything I’ve performed to before.

I put together the routine in just a few days over the course of a few weeks, and while it wasn’t the most complicated, I’m pretty proud of it. I went into the competition solely to have fun because I didn’t have any intentions of placing: this was my first national competition! I knew the only way I’d really be able to let go and perform was if I had no expectations for the competition. I was calm backstage and feeling good after the warm-up time, when I didn’t have any grip and was still able to do all my moves, even the one I’d never accomplished without DryHands before. The poles felt great and all the other competitors were friendly and encouraging.

downsplit I didn’t watch the competitors before me (I was 6th out of 12 in my division) but I did watch all my competitors after me and everyone in the other divisions. It was very apparent who was going to win my division, even without seeing the girls  before me: Maggie Ann’s performance was fantastic. She did the same (or perhaps modified) routine she did for APC, and it was just incredible. I was not particularly impressed by any of the doubles routines, but I’m glad that category was included because it’s totally different from solo performances.

When it came to the All-Star categories, there was no contest as to who won: MoNika Ell’s performance was just mind-blowing, and Sasja Lee left no doubt in anyone’s mind that she had won. I even posted on Facebook right after her routine that she killed it. :) By the end of the evening, it was midnight local time and 3:00 am for me, so I was exhausted, but I am so glad I went. It was amazing to be backstage with such great pole stars and meet some wonderful people. Amanda Rose was so sweet and has such a positive attitude, even after suffering a terrible fall that broke both her feet, among other injuries.

hair Here’s my routine! My bottoms were the NoStringz short from DerbySkinz (they’re amazing, and I want approximately 20 more in various patterns), and my top was from Dancewear Solutions that I glued hundreds of rhinestones to. I love how the rhinestones looked on stage and will definitely be doing that again for future performances!

Hot Sugar – Tamar Braxton

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This song was also requested by a student and I’m so glad she did! I’d never heard it before so I had to listen to it a bunch of times before I could start putting something together. It got stuck in my head and I ended up walking around my house singing “He want that hot sugar…pop it, pop it, pop it” while my husband watched in amusement. It was super fun and you can tell, because this is one of the only videos where I’m actually smiling! I’m really trying to work more on audience engagement, and my “sultry” face just doesn’t work at all and makes no contact, so I’m on to smiling. I figure if the performer is smiling, the audience will want to smile too, and then they’ll have positive feelings towards the performance, even if it wasn’t technically the best one.

Anyway, I loved the class enthusiasm for this one! Keep those song requests coming!

Colorblind – Counting Crows

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This song was a student request: I can’t remember who said it first, but multiple students seconded it. Generally requested songs are not songs I would pick to do on my own, so they’re always a bit of a challenge. I enjoyed this one though, especially exploring flow and presence. I didn’t want to rush through it and always be thinking of the next move. I wanted to be able to fully finish each movement before going on to the next one while at the same time flowing directly from one to the other. While the combination is simple, I think it’s beautiful and felt real emotion while I was dancing, which is not common for me. I hope the girls enjoyed it as much as I did!

Pole and Social Media

This is part of the Pole Dancing Bloggers’ May blog hop discussing social culture and pole.

I’ve kept a blog off and on since around 2003. I first had a Xanga (remember those?) and wrote somewhat regularly in it throughout high school and again near the end of college. It is insanely cringeworthy: when I went back and read it a year or so ago I almost combusted from the red-hot embarrassment I felt at some of what I’d written. I guess that’s just par for the course when looking back at your teenage self, though.

I didn’t write much in college other than spending way too much time on Facebook. After I graduated, I started reading more books for fun (I was an English education major so I had tons of required reading to do in college) and with that, book blogs. Before Google Reader ended (tear, I loved that thing), I had amassed some forty-odd book blogs in my feed and I kept up with them all. I started a few book blogs myself, though none were successful. One particularly bad idea I had was a blog titled “Mistakes I’ve Found in Books”, which is exactly what it sounds like: a list of all the various mistakes I’d found while reading, because I can be a pretentious twit. (Though seriously, how can you change the main character’s hair color 4 pages later? There are some really terrible published writers (and editors) out there.) I had a normal book review blog that had a few followers, but I was just one not-particularly-unique voice among many and it soon petered out. I contributed a couple posts to my favorite book blog, Forever Young Adultone of which was quite pretentious as well (and very long-winded). I kept blogs to keep track of what I had accomplished, whether that was a new boyfriend or pair of shoes (high school Xanga), good grades and social events (college Facebook), or books I’d read (post grade book blogs). I keep a Google doc of all the books I read by month so I have a visual record of what I accomplish and I use Goodreads sporadically to keep track of what I read and what I think about it.

So when my time and attention turned from reading books to pole dancing, it only seemed natural to me to keep a record of what I was doing in pole class. At first I was so caught up in learning new moves that I wasn’t very concerned with documenting them, but once I started teaching classes, especially routine classes, I wanted to make sure all my hard work was documented, so I recorded them. Just having them on YouTube wasn’t enough for me, because sometimes I felt a routine needed more of an explanation than I could give on YouTube: how its creation came about, why that song, why that move. So I brushed off my blogging hat and created this space. I share my posts Facebook and Twitter: in fact, I made a Twitter account almost solely for promotion of my blog. My Twitter is almost 100% pole related, as is my recently-created Instagram. My Facebook is the same account I’ve had since 2005, but is now mostly pole-centered, though I do have normal life stuff on there as well.

In general, I see pole portrayed positively across various media platforms, but that’s mostly because I surround myself with polers. No one has said anything negative to me about pole on Facebook (I’ve only gotten one inappropriate message, from a high school classmate), I’m connected only to pole people on Twitter and Instagram, and I have pole blogs in my RSS reader (thanks, Old Reader, for picking up where Google left off). I haven’t had anyone call me a stripper when I say that I pole, mostly because I usually have a tricks video ready to show them as a visual explanation. While I know that there are some people that look down on pole dancing as a sport and/or art, I truly think that the majority of people don’t really care. The general population, at least around me (and I live in not the most liberal area in the country), is either open-minded enough to not judge, or doesn’t care enough to judge. Unless someone has a personal reason for disliking pole and the sexual feelings that CAN arise from thinking about pole, they don’t react negatively to the news that someone is a pole dancer, for whatever reason.

I try to switch up the routines I teach, one week doing a pretty, emotional, contemporary piece in bare feet and the next week doing a booty-bouncing routine in heels. I can show the pretty routine to anyone who is completely new to pole and doesn’t understand that it’s not just strippers who enjoy dancing around that vertical metal bar. If I’m trying to convince one of my friends who I know loves the club, I can show her (or him) the twerking routine. I love that there are so many varied kinds of pole dancing and I enjoy them all. Yes, society as a whole is still not completely on pole’s side, but I don’t think it’s against it either. It’s only the people with strong opinions who make themselves heard, whether they feel negatively or positively about it, so we have a skewed view on what people as a whole think. No one writes an article about something they feel completely neutral about. Take the negative articles and comments with a grain of salt, surround yourself with pole-positive people, and do your best to show how awesome pole is. It’s one of those things people have to experience for themselves: even a smart, well-worded reply on a pole-lambasting article isn’t going to change anyone’s mind.

And because I can’t have a post without a video, here’s my favorite one to show people who are very hesitant about pole being an art form and sport:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRkXwhV1hjM]

 

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