Game Face

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Game Face

In my last blog I wrote about my first couple of solo performances, and promised to write about my up-coming first pub comp. Well, here it is. Last night I performed in the Princess of the Poles Amateur Pole Comp in Sydney, and I had a blast!

I expected there to be a big difference between dancing in front of people from my school and dancing in front of the general pub-going population.

Now that I can speak from experience, I think there was less difference between the two audiences than I expected – if you love dancing in front of people and if they’re cheering for you then it doesn’t really matter who they are.

Sure, there are some differences in terms of playing to your crowd. The joy of the pub comp is that you can do super-easy stuff and get just as many oohs and aahs as you would have to bust out a super-hard trick for at a school show. I think my layback got the biggest cheer of the night, even though it’s a trick I’ve been able to do for a couple of years now.

The main thing that I think is worth writing about for today’s blog, though, is the issue of ‘Game Face’. A pub is (obviously) a really different environment to a pole studio, and there are challenges that you have to manage in the moment that you encounter them. There’s no turning around and saying ‘Sorry, can I start again?’ just because your pole stops spinning. So what do you do?

1. Smile!

And keep on smiling! No one else knows what your chorey was supposed to look like, so if you keep on smiling they’re less likely to notice when it goes wrong. Even if it’s really obvious that something has gone wrong – like you’ve missed a catch or fallen out of your handstand – smile. People will admire you for keeping on keeping on.

2. Play With The Curve Balls The Night Throws At You

Last night one of the girls slipped over on the pub floor at the start of her performance. But she worked with it and made it part of her act. She handled it with such sass that she wound up coming second. It was really great to see.

In my own act, the moment I got on stage I realised I didn’t have half as much space in front of me to do my floor work. All of my walking to-and-fro was either going to have to be done using the tiniest baby-steps ever, or I was going to have to come up with something new. So I did. I changed the floorwork on the spot so that instead of walking towards and away from the judges I was walking around the pole and interacting with it a lot more. It helped me get much more into my character and add quite a few cheeky bits that weren’t there before. By playing with the curve ball, I actually had more fun.

3. Consider The High-Drama Points…

…in your music and choreograph something that is both impressive and fail-safe. You don’t want to waste a great stretch of music on doing a low-key part of your chorey, this is the part of the show where you’ve really got to get the energy up there and get the people cheering. BUT, you need to consider what things may go wrong on an unfamiliar, non-studio-quality pole.

The pole I was on last night was safe and it was upright, but it didn’t spin well at all – probably the legacy of having too many pub goers jumping on after they’ve downed a few. Right in the most exciting part of my show, I was supposed to be pulling in to a really fast spin when the thing just stopped moving altogether. Argh! So there I was, sitting absolutely still halfway up the pole while the music belted around me. As soon as I could pick the chorey up again I did, and I kept smiling regardless, but if I had my time over I’d be relying on something else awesome to fill that spot in the music.

4. Don’t Stress When Things Go Wrong

The same problems like slippery floor or un-spinny pole affect everyone else in the comp as well, so the disadvantage kind of evens out. The judges are all there to support you as much as they are to critique you, and they can tell when something has gone wrong that’s been outside your control. The trick is to show them that you can handle it and aren’t phased by it when things inevitably do go slightly differently to what you may have practiced. And just like the old song goes, ‘when I fool the people I fear, I fool myself as well.’ Whistle a happy tune, shrug off any imperfections, stuff-ups or accidents, and enjoy the rest of the show.

5. Did I Mention Smile?


Category: Competition

About Tilly Dazzler

I started pole dancing three years ago when I was looking for a dance-based form of exercise that wasn't too heavy on foot work (I'm paranoid about having two left feet). I remember my first teacher telling our beginners class how we'd all get hooked - she was so right! Within six weeks there was no looking back for me, and within a few months I was poling twice a week, then three times, then buying my own pole...

Now I'm getting started with solo performances and amateur competitions. I've come so far with what I can do on the pole, and with how much confidence I have both on the pole and off it. I'm still completely hooked. Seeing all my mates in class and learning amazing new tricks together is a highlight of every week.

Pole has also led me to try a heap of other dance and performance arts like Charleston, burlesque, fan dance, contemporary, lyra, aerial silks, go go, and more. I try to work them into my routines and use them all to develop my style. I love using characters and telling stories when I perform, and I love experimenting with different types of music.

I hope you enjoy reading my pole blogs. Tilly D xxx

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One Comment to “Game Face”

  1. gloria simms says:

    Ive been a pole dance instructor for 6 years now and am sponsored by but its always nice to learn new things and see different perspectives! This was a great article.

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