Our First Competition Representative

16th June 2016

I remember when I first started pole dancing, at first; it was a hobby then it became for fitness. I started seeing these amazing results in my strength within the 8 weeks courses. I was actually enjoying it instead of slaving away at the gym, listening to the same old Ministry of Sound set day after day. After reaching about a level 4 stage I bought tickets to Le Noir, the dark side of cirque. Anastasia Skukhtorova performed a Solo that had my jaw firmly set on the floor the whole way through. I was in awe! I started insta-stalking her and began to research all the competitions that professional dancers were participating in. Then after becoming lost 45 pages deep into Instagram I came across Aussie dancers; Maddie Sparkles, Miss Filly and Amy Hazel. What was this amazingness I had stumbled on! What had I been doing with my life until now! I instantly knew I wanted to do what they did, but first I needed to change pole studios and go somewhere with all the sparkly pole shoes and sexy dance routines…Here starts my journey with Diamond Dance.

After being with Diamond Dance for about a year and half I knew my skills had improved but I still didn’t feel like I was good enough to compete. With no dance background and my poor ability absorbing choreography I felt like I would lack stage presence and grace. With the suggestion of Australian Pole Championships 2016 – Amateurs division being discussed with other Level 7 students, I questioned myself….could I really do this? I wanted to deep down, but doubted myself. Having a super competitive personality I really struggled with the idea of not being the best and just doing it to “give it go”. So I thought I’d test myself by putting together a solo for the Christmas show case in 2015. I choreographed a routine, performed and when I watched the video back and realised I wasn’t totally horrible I decided to enter APC using the video as my entry routine.

Entries for APC were in March, so once I had sent off my application, and my $40, I set about choosing a song. For the amateur division your routines can only be 2 minutes 30 seconds long, so I needed to choose a song I could fade out effectively or have edited to make a shorter complete song with all the bits in it that I wanted to dance too. I chose Castle by Hasley and decided I wanted to portray a warrior/viking type character and be a total badass. I had an aspiring music producer edit my song because I had tried a million apps and being technology challenged, I couldn’t even manage to work out how to fade in and out. Then I started thinking about my choreography. I had realised in the process of choreographing my solo for the Christmas showcase that I’m actually better at choreographing my own routines than learning others choreography, as it sticks in my head because I’m constantly thinking about it. Also I don’t count music so I find that I use the lyrics or the beats to know how long I want to hold moves for. Starting with my pole combos, I brainstormed my strengths and where these moves could fit the music. Then I started watching heaps of videos to take inspiration from other performers, especially with floor work, so I could use a mashup of ideas I liked and turn it into something I could do and make look neat. Then I wrote everything down that I wanted to do and started running through it.

 

I started training twice a week about 7 weeks out from the competition and I videoed every practise time so I could see what I didn’t and did like. I started with my floor work which resulted in about 3 hours of footage of my just rolling around the floor looking anything but graceful. The choreography I had originally written down had completely changed about 3-4 weeks in. Some days I had amazing run throughs and felt really good about what I had achieved. Other days I instantly regretted entering and wanted to completely abandon this whole idea. As the weeks drew closer I started to pep talk myself before training otherwise id go into it feeling a bit lost and useless. I was setting goals for each session saying to myself “Today you’re going to nail this move” and I’d make sure I pre plan what I practising each session. For example: Thursday I would train my Static combo and Saturday I was training my Spinning. If I was having a bad day I’d focus on my floor work. Also I was starting to watch what I eat and trying to cut out bad foods that where going to make me feel sluggish before a training session, so I wasn’t wasting my training time. I was also getting really sore, so it was important I kept stretching, seeing my Occupational Therapist (Vanessa at West Coast Occupational Therapy) and Chiropractor (Simon Skenner at Craigie and Jindalee Chiropractic) so I wouldn’t get an injury.

 

Performance day came and went so fast. I felt prepared and that I’d done the best I could. I got my hair done early in the day, and then packed everything I needed, costume, makeup, snacks, so I wouldn’t be running late, as per usual, for my 3pm rehearsal. The rehearsal for me was the scariest part of the whole experience. I have never been on a stage before and I didn’t know what to expect. I had a mild freak out because the stage was smaller than I thought and had to change my positioning to suit the space, but then I had a near perfect run through! I was so happy. I was instantly relieved and felt confident. Surprisingly when the show started and I was side stage I was really calm and once my name was called I was really excited to finally perform what I had spent so long working on. Unfortunately, my routine didn’t go as well as my rehearsal. I missed my hardest trick and my spinning pole slowed to a stop mid combo, facing the back of stage, so I had to try reposition myself so that my combos faced the front. But ultimately I had fun and came off stage feeling proud of myself for entering and actually “performing” the routine and not staring at the ground the whole time, which is something I had been struggling with because of stage fright. I had come to accept I wasn’t going to be the best, I just wanted to do my best and take away all the experience I could from the competition.

 

After I had performed I knew one hundred percent I was going to enter another. Every moment of training was worth the performance, good or bad. Getting into your costume with full hair and makeup down and seeing your vision come to life is such an uplifting experience. Next time however I will try not to change my choreography after hitting the “4 weeks to go” mark. I was still making little changes up to a week before and this can make you frustrated and confused. Over all this was amazing, confidence building experience. It’s an amateur competition so I encourage everyone who toys with the idea of performing to just give it a go, the early you start gaining stage confidence the more successful you will be. There is always going to be someone you think will be better than yourself, but ultimately by giving it a go, all you are doing is bettering yourself!

 ~ Jessica Jones