On August 14th, I competed in Pole Sport Organization’s National Championships in the Artistic Professional division. I qualified to compete in this competition by winning the Southeast Aerial Arts Championship way back in October 2014. The artistic division is different from the traditional professional division in that there is an emphasis on the dramatic and emotional aspect of the performance over tricks. All components on the score sheet are 5 or 10 points except for presence, which is 25 points, so I really wanted to focus on the story and emotion in this routine. I think I ended up neglecting the technical parts of the routine because of that though. I definitely see things I would change about the choreography if I were to do this over again, but overall I was really happy with this performance. I’m frustrated about the lights coming on after I started because I really think my opening shape is pretty, and going to black too soon as well, but I held that end pose for at least twice as long as I ever did in practice! I was determined to keep holding it until the lights came up because I wanted to show it off.
The event was zippered with the Men’s Professional competition, which means that every other person who went was in the men’s division, with a separate set of judges. I really liked this because it gave the judges a few more minutes to finish their numbers and comments, and I wasn’t going directly after a competitor. I also loved having the energy of the men backstage: there were SO many different styles of dancers and they were all SO kickass! Brandon Grimm’s winning performance was stunning, and Sai’len Jaeger’s second place routine had me completely transfixed while watching from the wings (2:43 is EVERYTHING).
I have some thoughts about the judging that took place, but I won’t address it here (maybe in another blog post, because I have LOTS of thoughts). I didn’t think there was a clear winner in the artistic division or women’s professional division – I saw all but two of the artistic performances and all of the women’s pro the next evening – but I thought Brandon pretty clearly won the men’s. I did enjoy Maggie Ann’s winning routine, but I thought Angela Nelson’s was absolutely breathtaking. It was sointeresting to see all the different styles: no two routines were alike and everyone had such unique themes. There was a Mad Max theme, a ninja girl in a full bodysuit, a ballet/hiphop/sexy pole dancer, and lots of props. I was pretty disappointed with the turnout both nights, but especially the night I competed: we’ve had bigger audiences at my studio’s showcases. It was insulting, not only to me, but the men, who deserved a bigger audience. I can understand people not being interested in the artistic division since it was new and not as hard to place in as the women’s pro since there were fewer competitors, but the men are all AMAZING. There were around 50 people in the audience; it was a little shocking to walk out on stage and see such an empty theater (it seats close to 1500 ).
Overall, however, I enjoyed the evening and had fun on stage. I really wanted to place and trained all summer with that goal in mind, but I placed fourth. It happens. I understand the judges’ comments and wish I’d changed some of my combinations and choreography, but I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% happy with a routine. I’m not sure what my next competition will be, but I already have some ideas for music and themes, so I’m eager to start training again!