Pole competitions are hugely popular. They give us a chance to showcase our skills on stage, perform for a live audience and put our routines to the test under the experienced eyes of the judges. They are a great way to set goals, push our training forwards and get feedback on areas to improve.
The first hurdle to get through however is usually the video submission and it can be a daunting thing!
The year before I won Miss Pole Dance UK – I didn’t manage to get through the video round, but learning from my mistakes and working on the feedback from judges helped me to improve, and ultimately made me a better performer.
My time judging hundreds of online entries has also helped me see patterns and pitfalls that are easy for competitors to fall into. So here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years, to hopefully give some insight and help you on your way.
#1 Read the judging criteria:
Sounds simple enough, but the last thing you want to do is do a slick routine nailing your favourite trick to find out it’s not allowed, or rock in heels only to realise they aren’t allowed. Each competition is different so take the time to have a good read through and check that it is the right competition for you and that you can fulfil all the requirements.
Choosing a song is sometime the hardest part! Pick a song that you enjoy, can move to and highlight your musicality. Even if its a slow song, you can still add faster/more dynamic sections, and the same goes for slowing down/having moments of pause in faster tracks. This change in tempo will add interest and mix up the routine rather than keeping to one level.
Most competitions have restrictions on length, with some even having points deducted for running over. There is some great free music editing software out there, such as Audacity which is great for cropping songs. Take the time to cut or fade your song out – it will help your video look slick and well put together.
The first few times you film your routine you might feel a bit odd – no audience atmosphere can leave you feeling a little flat. Try placing the camera in front of your mirrors or rally some fellow polers to sit behind the camera. As much as possible, try to engage the camera like the judges are sitting there. Make eye contact with it and check your angles so it captures your best view.
Try placing the camera in different spots so you can avoid glare from windows or bright lighting. Mood lighting can be great but don’t be so moody that the judges cant see what you are doing! Time of day can play a big part so be wary of turning into a silhouette if using a camera phone.
#5 Camera Phones:
CHECK STORAGE SPACE We’ve all been there…and while you’re at it put the phone on airplane mode so you don’t get interupted.
If points are awarded for presentation then these are some easy marks to collect! You don’t have to spend huge amounts of money or be a crazily ‘crafty’ person, just showing you’ve put thought into your presentation can go a long way. Try to match the look to your song choice and feel of your routine.
#7 Time Frame:
Try not to leave it until the last minute – the due-in date should not ideally be filming date as this can lead you to feeling very pressured, stressed and you might run out of time/lighting or lets face it – skin tolerance. It will creep up on you sooner than you think, so creating a timeline can help you plot your course of action. This will be different for everybody, but setting some clear goals will help you stay motivated and on track.
There should be a cut off point when any combos or tricks that you cannot complete cleanly or effectively, get taken off the list. There is no point in putting in a trick for the sake of it – especially one that could bring the quality of your performance down, regardless of how advanced it is. Plus you could save it for the finals and blow everyones socks off
While mastering a pole trick, clean entry and exit of a trick is JUST as important if not more so, than the trick itself. If you’re struggling into a trick – you’re giving the judges an opportunity to mention it. Stick to clean and well thought-out out combos that you can dance through (and breathe though!) and the routine will be richer for it.
Leave plenty of time for this to allow your creative juices to flow. Freestyle to your song, film yourself trying things out to see how they come across – you can capture some great moments like this that you didn’t even realise you’d done! Allow yourself to make mistakes, somtimes the best moments come from exploring and ‘failing’. If you really struggle with this you always take a pole flow class or use a choreographer such as Lorna Walker – who I’ve used personally in my Beyond Gravity Guest Performance .It was the first time I’ve used a choreographer but it was a great experience to add some different elements to my routine.
#10 Filming and Editing:
You don’t have to be a tech whiz to have access to the kind of ‘editing’ that is required. Most mobile phones will let you cut, chop and basic edit a video, as well as some pretty nifty apps. Clean up the edges and check your sound, lighting, framing (Always film horizonal on a phone) and video length before you submit. Remember to to tick the correct privacy setting when uploading to YouTube – best one to use is the ‘Unlisted’ option as only those who you send the link to can view it – in this case the judges. You can always go back and change these settings later. If your video is blocked on Facebook due to music copyright try Vimeo.
The great thing about video heats is that there is nothing to lose! It’s just you and a camera, you can re-shoot until your happy and if you choose, only you and the selected judges will ever see it. Many competitions offer feedback regardless of whether you got through or not, which will help you work on the areas you need to improve. Sometimes there can be a small admin fee so check with the organisers.
Stand out from the crowd
Smile at the camera, engage your ‘pretend audience’ and act like the judges are in the room with you. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get through this time. Sometimes just the process of preparing your video is a great push forward for your training and you’ll always have a video of your accomplishment – even if it’s to see how much you’ve improved! I encourage anyone to get involved with pole competitions – They are a fantastic way for the community to come together, support each other and to showcase the extraordinary talent that pole nurtures.