Tag Archives: contemporary

One Way or Another – Until the Ribbon Breaks

I LOVE this song. I originally planned to use it for my PSO Southeast floorwork and lowflow routine, but when I stumbled across that song, I changed my mind. I still couldn’t quite give up this song though, so I used it for a class routine. I love all the swirly leg things at the beginning and I really wanted to focus on circular movements around the pole. I may not be over this song still – I haven’t totally ruled it out for something in the future.

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!

Eyes Closed – Halsey

I found this song the way I find most of my music – on Pandora! It is such a pretty song that when I heard it during class, I ran over to the iPad to take a screenshot really quickly so I could remember to download it later. I didn’t realize until I was choreographing for it just how sad the lyrics were, but that doesn’t make me love it any less. It’s kind of fun in a different way to dance sexy to a sad, more contemporary song. I was inspired by Iris’s recent Facebook post asking about sensual/serious pole performances, and wanted to try my hand at it. I’m definitely a beginner at this type of choreography/routine, but I want to explore it more.
These bottoms were in my USPDF (which I could’ve sworn I posted about, but apparently I didn’t!) swag bag, and I know they’re pretty small, but all of my black bottoms were used for various costumes and I really wanted to wear this new sports bra I got from Victoria’s Secret for $5(!), so I pulled these out. I actually think they’re really flattering, but they are smaller than I’m used to. You know what else is smaller? Summer classes! I have several students out of town, so my classes are much smaller. In some ways it’s nice, but in terms of income, it’s a struggle. I also sometimes feel like it’s not worth spending 1-2 hours choreographing a new routine every week for just a few students, but it’s good for my brain and body to keep working on new things, so I do it. I hope my students appreciate it!

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!

Contemporary Pole Routine

I couldn’t put a song title for this one since it’s a mix of two songs that I combined for my PSO Triangle competition routine. The voicemail at the beginning is from Zella Day’s music video for Mustang Kids, and the song is Flood on the Floor by Purity Ring. I spent a very long time choreographing the voicemail part and I didn’t want to just use it once, so I decided to use it for a class routine. I used all the floorwork parts of my routine (except one fish flop!) and added a little pole in there to get a little contemporary dance routine to teach. I really love how this ended up, but it was more difficult – and faster! – than I anticipated. I always think songs are slow, so therefore the routines I create are slow, and that is definitely not always the case. It was a fun little departure from the usual sexy slinky heels work we usually do in class, but we’ll be back to our normal sexy routines next week!

Low Life – X Ambassadors

A student recommended this song to me, and I wasn’t sure about it at first, but it ended up being perfect for a nice simple and slow routine so that we could focus on being controlled and clean. As always, though, even though I thought it was a simple routine – all very basic pole moves, with a few exceptions – I still had students struggle with some of the choreography. One even dropped out before filming the video because she was struggling with it. I tend to get frustrated when this happens instead of taking a step back and realizing I need to go back and teach some of the basics again, and not just move on to harder moves because it’s been years since we did the basics. We don’t spend a lot of time on beginner spins in class unless they’re in a routine, so sometimes I just assume everyone remembers how to do them and throw them in. I also do the choreography many times before teaching it, so I forget how it might be harder the first few times going through it. Definitely a lot of lessons for me to learn as a teacher!

Rescue Me – UNIONS

I first heard this song at the end of the most recent season of UnReal (which is a ridiculous (sometimes great) TV show, by the way!). As soon as I heard it, I knew I had to find it. When I can’t Shazam songs because there’s talking over it (like in a TV show or movie), I just try googling the lyrics. Sometimes that’s really hard, but in this case, it led me directly to the song! When I first found it over the summer, it had less than 2,000 views, but more people have found it – and loved it – through UnReal as well.

It’s such a gorgeous and haunting song, but it never really changes so I knew I couldn’t use it for a competition. It works perfectly, however, for a short in-class routine! I loved focusing more on arm movements in this choreography and thinking about circular motions. I was originally thinking this would be a good simple choreo so we could focus more on the performance and dance aspect of it, but I forgot my students very much dislike rolls, and I had 3 in there! It was a struggle to get them, but in the end everyone did!

Body Electric – Lana Del Rey

I ran across this song on Pandora and fell in love. I’m actually thinking I might use it for one of my own routines coming up…

As for this class, I wanted to do something a little more dance-y and flowy, with some actual on-the-pole work instead of just floorwork. Thankfully my students were up for the challenge! I kept getting mixed up on which leg was bending in the sit, so I’m backwards from everyone else: man, what a good teacher I am. At least my students learned it correctly, which is good. Sometimes the limitations I have when choreographing – students who aren’t as advanced as others, no shoulder rolls, no right knees completely bent – force me to do unusual-to-me movements, so sometimes I automatically go into my natural movement. Definitely something I need to work on!

I’d Love to Change the World (Matstubs Remix) – Jetta

Sometimes when I’m going to record something to put on Instagram (so I actually am thinking about the music in the background), I put on my dubstep Pandora station. I love dubstep music – I feel like it’s pretty perfect for pole! I’m pretty sure this song came from that station. Whenever I hear a song I particularly like, I run over to my iPad that’s plugged in to the audio jack and take a quick screenshot so I can look up the song and download it later. I’d never heard of this artist before, but this song really grew on me the more I listened to it, so when it came time to put together this week’s routine, I chose it.

I feel like a lot of times I use my legs more than my arms in pole, so I wanted to focus a little more on arm movements in this routine. I also love the tempo changes: it starts out nice and slow, and speeds up when the beat drops. I felt like I could really dance this one, moreso than other routines I’ve done. As always, I’d love song suggestions: coming up with a song is one of the hardest parts of choreographing for me!