Hi there! This post is a little overdue as the competition was slightly more than a week ago on 5th October, but I really want to share the entire journey with my readers. This is my 4th competition (3 in-house and 1 organised by another studio), and I’ve performed many times in public. But this particular journey was different and it made me realise quite a number of things. WARNING: LONG POST AHEAD!
This is my proudest pole moment, and I know I’ll look back on it and still be happy I managed to pull this off. It’s not perfect, but I did my best and that’s enough for me. 🙂
BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS
Can my sub-heading get more literal than that?
The hardcore training started roughly around 5 weeks before the event itself and I went through a bit of a nervous breakdown.
If you’ve read my previous post, I wrote about how I was really depressed over not being able to do much due to my sweaty palms. I guess it was also psychological and I lost confidence in myself when I couldn’t physically do anything because I kept slipping. It’s scary for me because I never really had to worry much about my palms, though they were starting to get a little sweaty after I’ve been poling for a few months. I went for symphathectomy in 2007 (waaaay before pole) so why is this bothering me now? Why palms, why now?!
Anyway, it took a few loved ones’ encouragement to get me back up on my feet and to not pull out of the competition. I’m really very lucky!
Also, I’m quite injury-prone, so it didn’t surprise me when I started to injure my shin, my knee, my back, etc. I think plasters, ice pack and Deep Heat were my best friends. I still have a swollen shin from falling onto the platform while trying a handspring at the club itself.
LIGHTS, MUSIC, ACTION!
It’s the first time I would have to create an entire show for myself because we have the option of including a backdrop and special lighting this year. I did everything by myself, from the editing of the music and video backdrop, to the costume, lights, stage planning, theme and routine itself, and the late night torturing in the studio over the past few weeks. I must have listened to my song over 300 times.
Went with a bit of a fantasy theme too, which explains the video backdrop and story itself. Also, I have this…this thing for masks. And, I sewed fur on my black tank top. My friend said I look more like a fox than a witch. 😦
Song: Lament of the Highborne (World of Warcraft) & Crystallize (Lindsey Stirling)
Video Backdrop: Burning Candles (Tibissimo) & Dark Forest (Dreamscene)
Theme: Flashback, to the 16th century where witches and warlocks were captured and burned at the stakes. This is the tale of a high priestess in captivity accused of witchcraft. They say that she never got out of the dark forest. And she was never seen again.
D-DAY – JUST POLE IT
I tend to get really really nervous before any public performance so you can imagine how anxious I was on that day. I had so many things running through my mind. Would I screw it up? What if my palms are too sweaty? What if I can’t stick???
Number of slips: ZERO. THIS. WAS. UNBELIEVABLE. Thank you for cooperating, palms! Must be all the ITAC, Dry Hands, Mighty Grip, etc… The venue poles were also pretty grippy so that helped plenty!
Number of un-executed moves: One, the Iron-X. Went into an (not so perfect) extended butterfly instead. -_-
Number of smiles: A few stupid goofy ones, which is an improvement because I NEVER used to smile while performing.
Number of beers: Countless, I was just so relieved and happy it was over. 🙂
When I stepped onto the stage, I didn’t feel nervous at all. Though I won’t discount the panic I was feeling just before I went up. It felt like I was going through the motions as if I was in the studio again. I did all that I wanted to do (except the iron-x). Got really tired nearing the end and wanted to give up but I kept on going to finish the routine. Many of my friends were out there and I didn’t want to embarrass myself too, hahaha
I was extremely happy when I won Champion! 🙂 Photos ahead! I have alot more photos but I’m only going to upload some here. (Can’t seem to centralize the YouTube embedding for the life of me, even after trying various ways.)
L-R: Ania Przeplasko (IPDFA & IPC Founder), Saulo Sarmiento (Pole Artist),
Renee Tan (Groove Principal), me!
MY POLE COMPETITION TAKEAWAYS
1. Be flexible – Mentally, not physically. I wanted to use my handspring combo so badly and it was in my routine in my head for weeks. I was so scared I couldn’t execute it on d-day because I tried it once at the club and I fell hitting my shin against the small platform on the side. This made me so nervous and it affected my entire routine and my confidence. I finally decided to change it TWO days before the competition to a split grip air walk combo which turned out to fit my routine better overall.
2. It’s not about winning, it’s about doing your best and putting up a good show – I have to admit I was very determined to win. I have completed all levels in my school and winning this would be a nice finishing touch. However, when I was worried about my handspring, it dawned on me that I DON’T HAVE TO WIN. I decided then that I just wanted to put on a good show for the audience, and not have them see me execute something that I wasn’t confident about. I wanted to be able to watch my video months down the road without cringing in disgust! I guess me adopting this mindset was also why I managed to perform without any stress for the first time in my life on-stage.
3. Don’t use something you’ve semi-conquered in a competition routine – The Iron-X? Mine is definitely far from perfect but I was hell-bent on using it. Always use your best tricks that you can do well comfortably. It’s better to put up a good show than to do a half-assed move you’re not confident with and spoil the whole thing. Thank goodness for lesson #4.
4. Always have back-up moves – Yup, that’s why I did the extended butterfly in place of the iron-x. And it wasn’t even done nicely, blah. Actually I had this back-up move at the back of my mind if I ever fall from a trick, and that is to just body-roll… That ought to take some of the embarrassment away…right??
5. Never be complacent – There’s always something to improve on. It could be that combo that you’ve done so well earlier that week and feel like you don’t need to practise it again, or it could simply be your costume. I’ve still got many things to work on, one of which would be…I reeeeeally need to work on my jade, it’s not as straight as I want it to be.
6. Tricks are important, but fluidity of motions is too – I have 2 practice videos. They were not exactly terrible but they were not smooth. A fellow pole dancer commented that it was pretty choppy as well. So I tried to make everything flow better from move to move, transition to move, dance move to pole move, etc. Thankfully I managed to incorporate some fluidity into my routine on d-day.
7. Extendddd your dance moves – Argh, I cringe at those parts where my arm just doesn’t flow and extend nicely. This is close to lesson #6. My OCD side just wants to scratch the screen while watching the video to extend my arms…argh.
8. Get off the pole – Working on the routine alone isn’t going to cut it. Continue conditioning on your strength, flexibility and core. It will still help especially if you’re having a bad pole day and can’t accomplish much on the pole. Don’t just sit there and whine (I’m extremely guilty here).
9. Ask for feedback – There’s always room for improvement. The only way to find out where exactly, is to ask for opinions. From there, learn and become better! I know, I still have some bad pole habits (who doesn’t haha) that I need to get rid of. But identifying them is the first step. Find out from non-pole dancers, fellow pole dancers, pole instructors and more to get different perspectives!
10. Good times, bad times, just have fun – It’s a whole challenging thing in itself, having to come up with your own choreography, theme (if any), combos, choose your own music, make your own costume, etc. But it’s also something I will never regret doing because I learnt alot of skills here. I learnt how to edit music, edit videos, make costumes and more. It’s like your very own mini-production! 🙂 If you don’t find it fun, you probably won’t have a satisfactory outcome anyway. So just enjoy the ride. I know I did!
Lastly, PIG OUT when it’s over – I wasn’t dieting but I didn’t eat as much because I was always rushing off to pole at night and didn’t want to eat full meals before I pole. Now, I can pig out again. Steak, beer, YES!
I want to really thank all my friends for their support, for never giving up on me and even scolding me! Thanks for coming for the competition, and thank you for the photos and videos. 🙂
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TAKEAWAYS YOU’VE GOT AFTER A PERFORMANCE OR A COMPETITION? I’D LOVE TO HEAR AND LEARN FROM YOU!