Last year I competed for the very first time. The experience was so positive I wrote “You Had the Power All Along”. In that blog, I stated I wasn’t one to push competing. I am forced to retract that statement. Normally I stand by my word. Integrity ranks high in my personality chart so it’s important for me to lay out the reasons for my retraction.
When I entered in that first pole competition, it was to prove to myself, who is introverted and sometimes socially awkward, that I could face my fear and perform on stage. What I wasn’t prepared for was how welcomed I was into the competition community. The crowd applause was just as loud and supportive for the beginners as it was for the professionals. It was then that I became hooked.
When the organization sent out opportunities to become an ambassador this year, I jumped on it without hesitation. The reason I was so drawn to this competition organization specifically is that their mission ran quite parallel to our studio’s mission statement. Pole Sport Organization’s motto is, “Anyone can have a chance on stage”. No video submission and no judgement in entering. Sound familiar? Even though I don’t really receive anything monetarily for this role, I am passionate about seeing others overcome their fears and experience the benefits of pole performance.
Because I had placed the first year, rules stated I had to move up a level. Logically I understood the rule but that meant I had to move up into the dreaded two point of contact inversion tricks. Handsprings and Ayeshas always scared the bejesus out of me and I refused to practice them…… until I was forced to. Once I acknowledged I had to progress beyond my comfort zone to improve, it became just another goal to work towards. Now I can bust out an elbow grip Ayesha with ease but that darn handspring still has me hard at work!
We can easily get stuck in our own studio bubble so it’s beneficial to receive exposure to different styles and levels. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a performer do a trick or transition that I’ve never seen before or wouldn’t have thought to try. The pole sport is constantly evolving so it’s important we stay tuned into new things. When I competed in Seattle, I was completely blown away by the skill level and artistic ability in that region. I immediately wanted to take those inspirations home and apply to both my pole growth and teaching plans.
We are all human and want to place and perform well but the mutual support for each other is very present. Seeing your competitors support you is very encouraging and calming. Continued relationships are built because you experienced that anxiety, fear, and success together. In Orlando, I got to hang backstage with my previous competitor from Atlanta, JBeck. We had maintained contact through social media and although we were competing in different divisions, we ended up backstage together cheering each other on as if we were old gal pals. The same is true for the vast majority of other performers. I’m always amazed at how humble even some of the pros are. Watching them perform is like having a seat at the Olympics. Despite these Polympians (as I call them) being advanced athletes, most are quite approachable and extend support to even the most beginner of polers.
The downside of being a performer over a spectator is that you miss some beautiful and creative pieces getting ready for your own performance. That said, I make it a point to devote time both before my event and after to watch as many performances as my schedule will allow. They inspire me so much! No matter how experienced, it takes so much courage and vulnerability to get up there. We put so much dedication into a piece and pray it translates. That’s someone’s heart up there dancing, and their performance is a gift to us as the audience. My latest piece, was a tribute to my partner’s parents who passed. I loved them dearly and wanted to celebrate their memory, honor their passing into the next life, and hopefully lead the audience on a journey under the narrative that death isn’t the end.
My boss at my day job is a great mentor and career developer. One of the areas he’s always coaching me through is confidence. I’m either a nervous talker or don’t speak at all. One day he said to me, “Dawn, you can do flips on a pole but where is that confidence on a conference call?” Touché, Mr. Bossman. Competing taught me to stand tall in life no matter the circumstances with dignity just like we do on stage. Everyone has a value and sometimes you just have to overcome a scary or intimidating situation to realize yours.
There’s so many other benefits to competing than I’ve listed but one thing is for certain. It is life changing and I recommend everyone to give it a try. Everyone should have a chance on stage and a time to shine!
Dawn began her journey to fitness and well being through pole dance in 2013. After quitting smoking for over 17 years and recovering from a digestive disorder, she was ready to take charge of her health! Finding mainstream gyms to be boring and unmotivating she decided to give pole dance fitness a try. Her life changed forever! She was immediately hooked on how fun and challenging pole fitness was and excited to see the changes in her body, strength, stamina and most especially her self-confidence! So much so, she became an AFAA Certified Instructor and loves sharing the amazing benefits of pole dance fitness!