Category Archives: Competition

USPDF Pro Competition 2017

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Since I got my pro card after competing in the amateur division last spring, I was able to compete in the pro division this fall with the US Pole Dance Federation. This competition is a little different from all the others: there is a 70-90 second routine that must include several compulsory requirements: a reverse grab to shouldermount on static that must have at least 2 rotations before getting into the shouldermount, at least 20 seconds of consecutive floorwork, a twisted sister held for at least 1 rotation on spin with the top foot at least 1 foot away from the pole, an inside leg hang cocoon with both arms overhead, and at least 30 seconds of consecutive spin pole. I only got 1 rotation in my static spin – I was so worried about slipping that I applied too much grip! – so I didn’t score too high on this round: 9th out of 15. We were also provided an outfit by MilaKrasna and a pair of GlitterHeels! We were required to wear heels for this routine. Even though I didn’t score very well, I had a lot of fun in these 90 seconds.

After everyone had gone through their compulsory routine, we performed our “optional” routine in the same order. It’s called optional, but everyone has to do one; there just aren’t any requirements other than a length between 3 and 4 minutes. We can wear whatever costume we like and can be barefoot or wear heels. I LOVE heels, so of course I chose to wear them. I ordered this beautiful set from Gale Polewear and added rhinestones. I wasn’t sure if the heels would be the right color, but they matched perfectly!optional9

I’d had this song in mind for a routine for a while now, but it never seemed like quite the right time. I was listening to songs trying to find the right one for this comp, came across this one in my  library, and fell back in love with it. I originally tried to mix it with a dubstep remix and while it sounded kind of cool, it didn’t really work for a pole routine (at least, not one that I could make look good!). I put a few new moves – the upright elbow hold split thing at 1:26 and the illusion plank (no idea it’s real name; that’s just what I call it) at 3:19 – as well as some old stand-bys – the shouldermount flip at 1:15, the cupgrip handspring at 2:26, the drop at 2:46 – and some variations of my favorites, like the forearm ayesha at 3:30. Overall I’m content with this routine, but it’s not amazing to me, either in its choreography or its performance. I think I can do better in making a routine a PERFORMANCE, from the music to the style to how the routine is structured to the moves and flow. I’m looking forward to my next competition: I already have some ideas brewing!

PSO Southeast Championships 2017

I completely forgot to write about this competition that happened August 26! I decided to be crazy (again) and compete in two different categories, though I reused my pro routine from Nationals just 3 weeks earlier. I really wanted to try out the new floorwork and low flow category, and I had so much fun creating that routine. I’m so glad I did that category because I truly enjoyed the process, which I can’t always say for my pro routines. I also won the category! I placed second in pro behind the gorgeous Shelly Murdock, who definitely deserved to win.

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I actually was so busy with the beginning of school, my Nationals routine, and coaching my 5(!) students who competed that I didn’t get a chance to put together my floorwork and lowflow routine until the Tuesday night before the competition. I wouldn’t recommend doing that, but since I teach what is essentially a floorwork and lowflow routine every week, I had a good repertoire of moves and the song was so easy for me to work with. I actually had another song in mind, but when I was in Los Angeles for Nationals, we stopped at an Apple store while we were out and about to charge our iPhones. While my phone was charging, I picked up a random phone and started listening to the music loaded onto it. I heard this song, Girls Your Age by Transviolet, and immediately fell in love. I downloaded it as soon as I got home and decided to use it for this routine. I had a vision for this one, and I love how the dress worked with this performance. I’m happier with this performance than I’ve been with one in a long time.

I think I felt a little more comfortable with this run of my pro routine than I did at Nationals, but I don’t know that it was much better. Still, I like this routine and I’m glad I had a chance to perform it twice.

It was a crazy day for me since I had 5 students competing in 5 different divisions and I judged almost every other division that I didn’t have a student in or wasn’t competing in myself. I had a blast though and I can’t wait for the next one. I already have some new ideas in mind…

PSO National Pole Championships 2017

This is my second time competing in Pole Sport Organization’s Nationals competition, though the first time was in the now defunct Artistic Pro Division. The last time I placed 4th, and even within a week or two afterwards, and definitely by the time I received the video about a month later, I was wondering why I chose that music and that style. I pretty much hate that routine now! Sometimes I just get an idea in my head that I think I need to do, and it doesn’t quite work out.USNPC17-beginning

I’d had this song picked out for months, but I cut out a bit at the beginning that was somewhat repetitive, and I needed to add something else in to make it a more competitive length. I loved the voicemail at the beginning of the routine that qualified me for Nationals, as did the judges, so I wanted to find something like that and I was stumped for weeks. One morning I literally woke up with Robert Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” going through my head and I had the answer! I wish everything was that easy. As an English teacher, it particularly delights me to have a poem in my pole routine. I found a recording of Frost himself reading the poem and combined it with Tsar B’s song Swim.

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I was the last performer of 16 women and 9 men, so I can’t help but feel that the judges were probably somewhat exhausted by that point. I felt pretty happy with my performance when I came off stage, though I knew it wasn’t at a high enough level to place. Yet when the placements were published the next day, I was pretty upset. I placed 10th and tied with 11th place, which was very disappointing to me. Competitions are not all about placing for me, but I always make it a personal goal to place in the top half, and this was the first competition in several years where I hadn’t, and I really questioned my abilities after that. I wondered if I was good enough to keep competing at a pro level since my strength, flexibility, and tricks ability seem to not be growing at all, at least not with the others at my level. I wondered if I had totally messed up on stage and just didn’t realize it. When I got my scoresheet, I was even more confused: one judge had placed me last, tied with 3 others according to the placements, but I had very little negative feedback. How could I score so low but not have many suggestions for improvement?

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I noticed that most of the non-positive comments (since nothing was really negative) was about my emotion, character development, and facial expression, so I tried to get more into the routine 3 weeks later when I performed it again at PSO Southeast. I did get more positive feedback and placed 2nd there (though there were just 4 us!)

 

When I got the video I was a little terrified to watch it, but overall I’m pleased with how it went! The video is gorgeous and Alloy Images got the most beautiful pictures I’ve had from a performance yet, so I’m happy. Onwards and upwards!

USPDF 2017 Thoughts

I know, this is SUPER late! I competed in the amateur division of the US Pole Dance Federation on March 31, 2017 and I was not happy with how I did. I used so much grip on my hands that I couldn’t slide down enough to transition to a move and I ended up falling out of it – not an actual fall, but coming to floor out of a move that I was not planning on! It didn’t hit me until I landed what had happened, so I had to quickly scramble to figure out what I was going to do to fill the time until my next spin pass, and it was the most basic, blah little spin pass ever. I’m so frustrated that I didn’t do better – the top 10 out of 24 won their pro status, and I was 11th – and I wish I could have had a better showing in my first New York competition.

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The interesting part is that a few weeks after the competition, I received an email from Wendy Traskos, the organizer of USPDF, inviting me to accept my pro card upon reconsideration of my performance. Of course, I accepted! I’m not sure why I was extended this opportunity, but my guess is that the compulsory scores were accidentally left out of the calculations on the night of the competition. Our scores were posted publicly the next day, and there were just the three judges’ scores, with no compulsory. I assumed they had been averaged in and thought nothing of it, but when we got our full breakdown of scores (which is seriously the best thing ever: I LOVE that about this competition!), it had our compulsory scores. The cool thing about our score breakdowns is it shows our scores compared to the average of everyone else’s scores, so I could see that I received full points for every compulsory move while not everyone else did.

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I know I made sure to do every compulsory move correctly and hold it for the required length of time, but I knew that I also didn’t have a very good performance overall, so I was not surprised with my placement. Either way, I am very thankful for the opportunity to submit next spring for the pro competition, and I plan to work my ass off to a) get in, and b) have an awesome performance!

Below is the video from the competition, which I can hardly watch I cringe so badly at my spin pass mistake (at 1:27 :( ). I know I need to improve my back flexibility, as evident in my closed outside leg hang, but I’m pretty proud of that much!

I posted this video in the showcase post, but I did this same routine (minus the closed outside leg hang) again a few weeks ago, mainly to prove to myself that I could do that silly elbow hold combo. No problems this time, thank goodness!

USPSF 2017 Championship Thoughts

Back in March I competed in the women’s elite division of the US Pole Sports Federation Championships – and placed 2nd! Last year I won the women’s professional division, and to be honest, I’m not quite sure why I decided to do it again this year. I didn’t particularly enjoy the training process and I got frustrated with trying to figure out all the rules, but somehow I found myself signed up for this year, and in a division with some crazy competition: last year the top three were Rafaela Montanaro (this year’s winner as well!), Polina Volcheck (aka Pink Puma), and Samantha Star. So to say that I was going into this year’s competition without any hope of placing is not an exaggeration.

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The USPSF competition differs from other competitions mostly in that you have 10 required moves that you must identify in the order that you will perform them on a judge sheet, and that is one of the things you are judged on during your routine. You have the option to gain bonus points by combing two or more of those moves, but it’s made more difficult with the combos having to be moves from different categories, of which there are 5: strength, flexibility, static spins, dynamic elements, and spin elements. It involves WAY more math than you might think when it comes to choreographing a routine, and it took me hours to fill out the difficulty sheet and double-, triple-, and quadruple-check it to make sure I had everything correct (you lose points before the competition even starts if it’s filled out incorrectly). The goal of the USPSF and IPSAF is to get pole into the Olympics, so it’s modeled closely after gymnastics and ice skating requirements.

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Holding it for 2 full rotations feels like FOREVER!

I actually felt better when coming off stage than I do now watching the video. I don’t think there’s anything particularly smooth, inventive, or unique about anything here, but I followed the rules: hold each compulsory move for at least 2 seconds, have at least 2 full rotations around the pole in the spin element, finish the moves… so I think that some other competitors may have had really nice, cohesive, and great routines, but because this competition is judged so differently, they may not have scored as high. I felt the same after the PSO SEAAC, because it was judged with a heavier emphasis on emotion than tricks, so I think that’s why I won. Sometimes it makes me feel like I don’t really deserve the wins, to be honest.

With all that said, here’s the video! I haven’t even thought about what music/theme I’m going to do in December for Worlds, which, thankfully, is being held at UNF in Jacksonville. It would be nice to travel to another country like Italy, which is where Worlds was held in 2016, but it’s MUCH cheaper and more convenient to have it right in my own backyard.

PSO Triangle Pole Championships 2017 Thoughts

Warning: long post ahead! Now that it’s been exactly one month since this competition, I figured it was time to post about it.

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One of the very few angles in which I look semi back-flexy!

This was an interesting competition experience for me. I originally signed up many months ago because I looked up flights from Daytona Beach – the airport only about 30 minutes from me – to Raleigh, and they were under $200, so I figured it would be perfect. I was super excited about the new exotic division too, so I signed up for both the pro qualifier and exotic level 5, because hey, go big or go home, right? Then we decided to drive to save some money on flights and car rental, so my original reasoning for doing the competition was right out the window. But that’s ok, because I was still excited to compete.

This was first time I’d done two wholly different routines in the same day. Or the same weekend, or same month, actually. I was more interested in working on my exotic routine, so I kind of put off working on my pro routine, stupidly. I also wasn’t too worried about my exotic routine, so I didn’t really work too much on that one either. This all led to the week before the competition and I was running my pro routine for the first time and my exotic routine still wasn’t finished. I actually changed some of the choreography on stage while testing the poles the morning of the competition. In hindsight, I wish I’d practiced more of a polished routine than I did for the exotic category, but overall I’m happy how I did with it, except for a few minor wobbles – I’ll post more about it when I receive the video from Alloy Images.

So my pro routine… it was physically exhausting for me. I had tons of elbow holds in it and ended up really straining my elbow two weeks beforehand, so I could barely even practice. I originally had my two spin passes switched, but could never even make it to my second (harder) pass, so I put it first. Even then, I was hitting it maybe 50% of the time. On its own, I could hit the pass no problem, but after having already done a fair amount on static, I was always too tired to make it look good. The first time I ran through the whole routine straight through was one week before the competition, and it was ok. Not great, but I made it through. Two nights before the competition, I had a dress rehearsal and had an almost perfect run-through. I was super happy with it and crossed my fingers that I would have a repeat performance on Saturday.

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You can’t see all the rhinestones in the video, but there were tons on both my top and bottoms!

The Triangle Pole Championships were held at the Cary Arts Center and it was gorgeous! I loved having 2 good-sized rooms to get ready in with full mirrors and make-up lighting, and then a hang-out area with a monitor so we could watch the stage. It was amazing being able to watch everyone and tell them how awesome they were as they came downstairs after walking off stage. I normally don’t watch my competitors, but we all hung out in the backstage area stretching and watching each other, so it was a really nice time with fellow competitors. Everyone was so encouraging and positive: definitely one of the best competitions I’ve been in when it came to camaraderie and positive feelings backstage!

I went sixth out of ten, and a girl who had gone third or fourth mentioned that the static pole was slippery right where you reach up to grab it, but I didn’t focus too much on that, because poles feel different for everyone. However, right when I went to go into a one-handed spin into shoulder mount, my hand slipped and I had to skip the shoulder mount, doing an awkward backwards invert instead. That threw me off right from the beginning, and I was so angry with myself for not making it work (and having bent legs in my invert!) that I was in my head for the rest of the routine. I fumbled with my first spin pass and the whole performance just wasn’t as smooth as I’d hoped for. I ended and walked off stage pretty upset with my run-through.

I sat down and went through everything I now had to do: I was going to sign up for Southern Pole Championships in Atlanta so I had a chance to redeem myself, I was going to buy my video from Alloy (I had purposely not bought it because I knew the top 3 were posted, and I was hoping to place)… I was prepping myself to be ok with whatever the result was. I went into the competition hoping for top 3, and I walked off stage hoping to be in the top 5: I just didn’t want to be in the bottom half of the competitors. I sat backstage and sulked for the rest of the competition, super mad at myself for all the places where I messed up.

Such a great photo from Alloy!

Once everyone had gone, including the two guys (who were both AMAZINGly entertaining!), we all headed to the stage for awards for all categories for the day. I already knew I’d placed 3rd (out of 4) for Exotic Level 5, so I received a medal for that. Finally, it was time for the women’s pro category. Since I knew my performance hadn’t gone the way I wanted it to, I wasn’t holding my breath, but I thought if I placed, it would be third. When third was announced as the gorgeous Tynesha B, I was certain that I hadn’t placed at all. Janine Cooper was announced as second, and I had in my mind who I had thought won: remember, we could watch everyone’s performances on the monitor backstage, so I felt like I had a good idea of how the placements would go.

When Shay announced the winner, it took me a second to realize she’d said my name because I was so sure it was going to be another name. I looked at her and said, “Me?!” and she nodded and told me to get up there. I was still so shocked that when Amy Guion came to give me my medal, I told her, “I think the judges fucked up”. She just laughed and said that no, I was really the winner. I still can’t believe that a) I won, and b) I said that on stage in front of everyone as I was receiving my medal and trophy. It still blows my mind, and I am still unhappy with my performance, but it’s lit a fire under me to nail the combos I didn’t quite get in this performance.

Thank you to Amy and PSO for this wonderful opportunity and I can’t wait to compete August 5th in Los Angeles!

How to Choreograph a Pole Routine

I’ve competed in 10 (!) competitions over the past 5 years and performed in many showcases and shows: my best guess is that I’ve choreographed 17 entire routines just for myself. I also choreograph a new group routine (around 2 minutes) every week (obviously, since that’s the vast majority of this blog!), so I think it’s fair to say that I have experience with creating a pole routine. Bittersweet Studios is having our 4 year anniversary showcase in a few months and I have students working on a pole routine for the first time who have asked me how to choreograph a routine.

I won’t lie: it’s hard! But the good news is, you don’t have to start from scratch. Everyone has a different style and process for creating a routine, but here are 9 steps that seem to work best for me.

 

1. Know the requirements.

If you’re choreographing for a showcase or performance, it will likely look different than choreographing for a competition. If your showcase has a theme – Bittersweet’s coming up is 70s! – then consider that when following step 2. If you’re working on a competition piece, be aware of song minimums and limits as well as profanity or lyric rules. I’ve seen competitions that have strict time requirements with only 10 seconds of wiggle room, while others may have a whole minute range. Some competitions state that the songs must be radio edits – no profanity – while others require music without lyrics at all. Make sure you know what the rules are because you don’t want to fall in love with a piece of music and start working on it, only to find out that you can’t use it!

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The requirements for the Florida Pole Fitness Championship. Pay attention to time limits and compulsory moves!

 

2.  Find your music.

This is BY FAR the hardest part for me. I usually spend around 2 months listening to everything until I find that perfect song. Every now and then I’ll find a song I love when I don’t have something coming up, so I’ll save it for when I do but that’s pretty rare. Make sure it fits the time restrictions (or can be cut to fit, which is much easier than adding music!) I love Pandora for finding new music, but I’ve heard that Spotify is great too. Good pole music generally (but not always!) has some tempo changes, beats, and depending on the routine you’re putting together, a story. Everyone moves and interprets music differently though, so one person’s perfect song could make someone else immediately say “no way!” Whatever it is, make sure you love it, because you’ll be listening to it for hours on end!

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These play counts are wildly inaccurate since this is just from the iTunes on my computer. I played the songs MANY more times from my phone while I was practicing (and driving. I always have my competition music on repeat while driving!). The “FPFC edit” version had the language edited out since it had a few inappropriate words.

 

3. Chunk it.

Listen to your song approximately eleventy thousand times with a notebook handy. Listen for changes in music: choruses, verses, bridges, tempo changes, etc. These are good places to move from pole to pole. Are there any hard-hitting beats that you want to a cool drop on, or moments of silence that you want to hit a certain pose in? Write it all down. Most competitions have minimum requirements for length of time spent on each pole and some have time requirements or limits for floorwork or dancing away from the pole. Make sure you know the rules! Chunking makes choreographing SO much more manageable: instead of a 3:30 routine, you just have to come up with several shorter pieces and connect them!

Here’s what my two most recent routines looked like when I did this:

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How I began working on my routine for the 2016 Florida Pole Fitness Championship
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You can see where I changed chunking times as I worked on my combos for PSO’s 2016 Southern Pole Championships.

 

4. Think about moves and combos.

I usually have a couple of moves that I know I want to include in any given performance, often cool new moves I’ve learned since the last performance. Try to think of combos with those moves: can you put any of them together, or do you want to space them out? Will some only work on spin pole, while a few others should be done on static? I much prefer spin pole and could come up with 20 combos I love there, so I try to focus on static combos first since I’m much more limited with those moves.

How do you think of combos? This is where I am super thankful for Instagram: I look back at what I’ve posted, and usually I’ve forgotten some moves I’ve done! I also like watching videos of different moves in quick succession, because I’ll see transitions and ways to combine them that I don’t when I’m doing those moves days or weeks apart. If you don’t have videos of yourself to look at, you can always look at other people on your same skill level. Again, Instagram is incredibly helpful for this: search for any pole move with the hashtag prefix #pd______. Depending on the move, there could be hundreds or thousands of people posting videos of it, and some will have some great transitions or combos. For example, #pdayesha has close to 4,000 posts! I often see something another poler does and get inspired: “Ooh, if I put my foot under my hand instead of over, I wonder if I could go into a pegasus from there?”

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Class is another good place to develop combos. Even if your instructor doesn’t explicitly teach combining moves, think about how you could put two or more of them together. If you learned a cool combination in class, feel free to use it in your routine! I don’t know any instructor who wouldn’t be excited to see something they taught you end up in a performance.

Don’t forget to write down everything you think of! I can’t tell you how many times I come up with something awesome in the car, think I’ll remember it, and then have no idea what it was the next day at the studio.

 

5. Organize your moves and combos.

Where will they all go? Does your ayesha require hand grip that you won’t have at the end of a routine? Do you want to get your strength moves out of the way at the beginning, and end with prettier poses that are easier to hold? Is there the perfect moment in the music for you to hit your jade split? Once you have an idea of what moves you want to include, try to fit them into the music chunking that you did in step 3. Your chunking might adjust some here – that’s ok! This might involve a lot of trial and error as you try combos with your music.

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Notes I kept on my phone when I was working on my USPSF routine. I had a lot of combos for that 4:00 piece!

 

6. Connect your combos and chunks.

Ok, so you’re spending the first 35 seconds on the static pole with a great strength pass, then you have 10 seconds to move to the spin pole to start climbing on the chorus. How are you going to get there? How do you finish your static pass? If you’re on the floor, you might want to stay there as you move to the spin pole. Maybe you’re a dancer and you want to leap and twirl your way to the other pole.  Do you have two passes in a row on spin pole? How will you connect them without just coming down and going right back up? This is the second most difficult part for me, so don’t get frustrated! I find that this is a good place to get input from other people: they can watch you and tell you what might work or offer some suggestions for movement.

 

7. Clean it up.

Ok, you have your music, your combos, and how you’re getting everywhere. Now’s the time to add the special little stuff: a reach with a hand here, a head roll there, a purposely flexed foot here, a shoulder shrug there. Make it your routine and make it entertaining: it doesn’t matter if your routine is for a studio showcase, a stage performance, or a competition, the audience wants to be entertained! Look for places where you can add emotion: will a little sink into the pole with closed eyes at a particular moment have a big impact? What about a hand running through your hair instead of just at your side? Those little things often have the biggest effect!

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Some of the little things at FPFC and PSO. That hand reach was Sergia’s idea and it really made a big difference. I blew the kiss randomly in this performance: prior run-throughs didn’t have it!

 

8. Run it.

Everyone is different when it comes to how many full run-throughs they do. I aim to do as many as possible, with my routine fully complete 2-4 weeks before the actual event. Once it’s done, run it with your music to make sure everything works timing-wise (though you should be trying your combos with music in steps 5 and 6). I try to run my entire routine at least once every day I’m in the studio (about 6 days a week) the 2 weeks before the event (especially if it’s a competition. For shows I do it less). I want my muscle memory to kick in if I get on stage and my brain totally blanks. I feel like almost every time I step on stage I completely black out and I never remember what I did, so I’m very thankful for muscle memory! Every time I watch a video of a performance for the first time, I see things that I had no idea I did. It’s kind of fun, but your body will only do what you’ve been training it to do. That means you need to be practicing how you’ll perform: don’t invert with bent legs and tell yourself you’re just practicing and they’ll be straight the day of. I know from experience that that doesn’t happen!

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Running it through multiple times doesn’t only help with muscle memory, but stamina, my biggest weakness.

 

9. Relax, and perform!

You’ve prepared for your performance, and you’ve got it. Make sure you’ve had at least one run-through in full costume so you know if anything needs to be adjusted, like a skirt that’s slightly too long, a tie that comes undone, or a decoration that dangles annoyingly. The day of you’ll be confident that you know what’s going to happen on that stage and you’ll have put your best work out there. Enjoy it!

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I had to practice with this shirt a LOT to make sure I didn’t slide out of this shoulder dismount, but I nailed it the day of!

PSO Southern Pole Championship 2016 Thoughts

On June 11, 2016, I competed in Pole Sport Organization’s Southern Pole Championships in the women’s professional division. This wasn’t my first PSO competition: I won the Southeast Aerial Art Championship in 2014, qualifying me for Nationals in 2015. There was no Southeast division this year, so I decided to compete in the Southern regional, where I knew I would have more competition. I had been thinking about using this song for a while, but I wasn’t sure if the theme would work for PSO – their events tend to be more on the artistic and sporty side, not the sexy and flirty side – but then when Brian Wolf won the Pacific Pole Championships, I knew I’d be fine!

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This was the first time I’d performed this move: I think it’s called the fishdive, and I love it!

I like to alternate pieces between artistic/contemporary and sexy, so after doing two contemporary pieces in a row – USPSF and FPFC – it was time to strap on my 8 inch heels! I had fun putting this routine together: I even learned a new move that I kept secret before debuting it at this event (not that it was all that spectacular, but it was kind of fun to have a little secret!). My top is a sports bra from Forever21 that I spent WAY too long gluing rhinestones to, and my bottoms are from my new favorite site, I Heart Raves.

My performance was far from perfect, but I scored well (look how close the top 4 scores were!) and overall I feel pretty happy with how it went. I’m a little sad I didn’t qualify for Nationals again, but considering it’s on the other side of the country just 3 days after school starts this year, it’s probably a good thing. I’m not sure which competition I’ll do next, but I definitely have a few options I’m mulling over!

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And now, after all that, here’s my video from the always-wonderful Alloy Images!

Florida Pole Fitness Championship 2016

I competed in the 5th annual Florida Pole Fitness Championship a couple of weeks ago for my 5th time! Yep, it was my first competition ever, and I’ve competed in it every year since then!

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FPFC 2013
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I’ve never placed before, and I definitely wasn’t expecting to this year, either. All I want out of competitions is a performance that I’m happy with, but I had already decided in my head who my top 3 were this year (with a possible 4th). That meant that leading up to the competition and even after my run, I didn’t even consider that I might place. And you know what? I got third! I was so surprised when Allison called my name that it took me a second to react! I’m so so so happy to have placed after 5 years of competing! I think the key to doing well is to truly NOT care if you place, but that is an incredibly hard mindset to get into.

I don’t have a great story about the creation of this routine: I found the song after hearing Castle on Pandora, so I went searching on YouTube to find more Halsey songs. I really liked this one, and thought it might be fun to do a creepy routine. I’d never done anything like that for a pole performance before, and I’d never done intentionally flexed feet either, so I wanted to try something new! I played around a ton on the floor, contorting myself in weird shapes to try to figure out my floorwork, and after my friend Robbie suggested doing a forearm cartwheel, I worked on it relentlessly until I finally got it!

The week before the competition, Sergia Louise Anderson was in town and I ran through my routine to get some feedback. She suggested just minor changes because she was very short on time, but I think they really made a big difference in how I thought about my performance and presenting myself on stage. If you get a chance to work with her, definitely do so!

Anyway, here’s the video! I see the few places where it’s not entirely smooth, but overall I’m quite happy with my performance!

USPSF 2016 Championships Thoughts

Almost exactly one month ago, on February 26th, I competed in the United States Pole Sports Federation Women’s Professional Division. I actually started writing a post a while ago about my process preparing for this competition because it was grueling – and not just physically – but I was so busy with life that I never finished it. The rules are extremely complicated and it took me several hours just to fill out the compulsory move and technical bonus sheets. Part of the requirement is music without any lyrics, and while I liked my music well enough, I wasn’t super excited by it so I was never particularly motivated to practice. I had many required moves to include in my routine, and while some guidance is definitely extremely helpful, I felt like all I was doing was trying to fit puzzle pieces of moves together, not create a performance. This competition is PERFECT for people like former gymnasts or ice skaters who like having points assigned to particular moves though!

Just 4 weeks before the competition, I couldn’t make it past 1:30 of my 3:56 routine. I could do the first part (which was all static), take a break, and then run my spin pass, but I couldn’t put the two of them together or add the last static pass on until just 2 weeks before the competition. While I know my cardio abilities aren’t great, I’d never had this much trouble just making it through a routine! I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through the performance, especially since I was almost never hitting one of my compulsory moves (I didn’t during the competition, either), and another one was happening maybe 25% of the time (I nailed that one!)

cradle
This no-handed cradle was iffy the entire time I was practicing, but I got it!

For me, the training process for this competition wasn’t as enjoyable as it has been for others. There was a LOT of studying involved, and math, and figuring out how exactly to follow all the rules, and I just really didn’t care about it that much to put forth the effort. However, I did end up winning my division! I have some thoughts about the level of competition – namely, that most of the competitors did NOT do a very good job of self-selecting their level – but I don’t want to focus on that. I had a gorgeous costume created by Carolina Elaine Grundstrum and my hair was done by one of my students at Bittersweet Studios Palm Coast: she incorporated the gold tinsel into the crown braid beautifully!

This was also the first time my mom had ever seen me pole. I’d shown her some videos of me in the past, but since my parents live in a different state, she’d never seen me pole in person before. It was so awesome having her there when I won! She didn’t have much to say about the whole experience: I think she was still processing a completely new-to-her way of thought and life, but she was definitely proud of me and appreciated the art and athleticism that pole can exemplify, particularly Dmitri Politov and Pink Puma’s stunning doubles routine.

Anyway, here’s my video! I am currently working on my routine for the Florida Pole Fitness Championship at the end of April and beginning to dream up some ideas for Pole Sport Organization‘s Southern Pole Championship in June. Always something to look forward to!