I am fairly familiar with the process of entering competitions, and because I have been asked by a few people about this process I thought I would put together another ‘Ask Peach’ post detailing it.
1. Choose Your Dance Style
Are you a sporty gymnast? A stripper style aficionado? An emotive lyrical dancer?
No matter what style of pole you dance there will be a competition right for you.
If you cannot decide what style you want to perform with maybe take time to listen to music and see which songs grab your attention, see which prompt you to start mentally choreographing, and what kind of style these imaginations tend to be. You could also watch other competition routines and see which inspire you and tap into your creativity. Think about what you are good at – if it is attitude and personality then pick a performance based style, if it is cool tricks then pick a dance style that incorporates them.
2. Decide Your ‘Level’
How long have you been pole dancing for? What moves could you comfortably perform in a 2 minute+ routine? How much other dance or routine experience have you got?
A good rule of thumb is that whatever tricks you are working on in your normal class, you may find it easier to only put moves a level lower than those in to your routines – so, for example, if you are working on Higher Intermediate tricks mainly stick to Beginner and Lower Intermediate tricks in your routine, and likewise for if you are working on Advanced tricks. This will influence which level you enter because often competitions have rules on which tricks can be performed in which category.
Another good indicator of your competition level is how much experience you have dancing and putting together routines. Maybe you can comfortably do an extended butterfly, but you have never danced before and struggle with fluidity and transitions. This would suggest you should go a lower level to account for your lack of dance experience.
However, often competitions have rules directly related to levels – for example, if you have ever taught pole (paid or unpaid) most competitions class you as ‘semi-pro’ or ‘pro’, even if you have never competed before. If you have ever been paid to perform you more often than not are classed as ‘professional’. Sometimes their ‘beginner’ categories require you have only been pole dancing for a certain amount of time, such as under 1 year, so make sure you look at these stipulations and take them in to account when choosing the competition which is right for you.
3. Research Competitions
Which competitions fit my style and level? Will location be an issue? Do the dates clash with anything else I have planned in my life?
The best resources I have found for finding new competitions include social media (of course), and sites such as everythingpoledancing. Being in a number of pole groups on Facebook is a great way to stay in the loop about new (and old) competitions that you haven’t heard of before. Even if you have missed the deadline for this year, it is still very useful as you can plan ahead for the following year and you will be better prepared to enter.
Make sure you double check that you are free for the final in the event that you qualify, and that you can easily get there via car or public transport.
Ensure that the competitions you find fits your style and pole ethos; if, for example, they ban heels or do not allow hair flicks, yet you prefer a stripper style of dancing, then swerve that competition!
Here is a little list of competitions I know here in the UK:
And many more… Those are just off the top of my head!
4. Read The Rules & Regulations!
What rules are there regarding routine, tricks, and costume etc? Is there a video entry and how do you pay your fee and submit your application? What are the deadlines?
Hopefully you have read these already when researching competitions to ensure that they are the right fit for you, but even if you have, it is time to read them again. Find out how you enter – whether it is simply first come first served like some competitions, or a video entry with specific instructions on what you need to do.
5. Pay Your Entry Fee & Apply
Now pay your entry fee in their preferred manner, if via paypal make sure you include a note of what the payment is for and who you are so that they can link it to the application you send them.
Fill in the application form with care including your information accurately. If they require a description of your routine theme and costume make sure you detail them as best as you can; you can usually change your routine and theme later anyway, so don’t get too worried if you decide you no longer want to do what you put in your entry video and competition application.
6. Film & Submit Your Video Entry
Does the competition require certain moves or tricks? Does the song have to be a certain length? How are the points weighted?
Make sure when you are choosing a song and choreographing a routine that you keep the competition rules in mind. If you are entering beginner for example you may not be allowed to do any inverted moves, your routine may require to be between 2-3 minutes long, or you may find that certain aspects of your routine are scored more highly than others, so look carefully at all of these.
Of course, you do not want to present a ‘paint by numbers’ routine necessarily, but it is a good idea to look at how the points are weighted. If a competition emphasises points for difficulty and execution of tricks, then make sure your tricks are solid, if they score more points for dance and fluidity make sure you really train your transitions consistently.
Once you have choreographed and rehearsed your routine, make sure you begin filming full run throughs as often as you can. Not only will this ensure you have plenty of takes to choose from for your final entry, but it will also help build up your stamina. Once you have a final edit of the video, make sure you submit this via the competition’s preferred channels by the deadline.
Even if there is no video entry for your competition I would still recommend this process. Filming allows you to watch your routine and see what you need to work on, and everyone can improve their stamina and strength through full run throughs at 100% effort. Plus, all competition finals will specify song length, points weighting, and specific levels and what they require.
7. Find Out The Big Result!
You have been waiting patiently for weeks to find out if you have got through and today is the day. If you do not qualify do not get down on yourself, the process of entering and training is hugely beneficial for your dance, pole skill and overall personal development. If you have gotten through then it is time to up your game!
Well, I pretty much specified this above with the video entry – but run throughs at 100% whilst being filmed are definitely a worthwhile endeavor. On top of these you should do relaxed practices where you mark-out your routine at 50-60% effort, these help out your memory and prevent muscle fatigue and general exhaustion. Finally I also recommend mental rehearsal as a great way to run through your routine without tiring your body, you can read more about this HERE.
You may also wish to get any feedback from your video entry sent to you, so that you can work on what the judges have pointed out.
However, as well as choreographing your routine, filming your run throughs, and marking out your routine, you may wish to cross-train in the run up to your competition. Flexibility training helps with tight muscles. and will also improve your lines in certain tricks and moves. Strength training may help to ‘balance’ out the routine training, especially as you will often be training the same side repeatedly by virtue of your choreography. Taking additional dance classes can help you improve you body awareness and dance skill (read more about body awareness and why it is important HERE). Whatever you feel you need to work on, find ways of incorporating cross-training into your training schedule if you can, even if this means doing a Youtube yoga video at home before work, or stretching in bed before you sleep.
Finally, the big day has arrived. You have worked hard on your routine, and hopefully you have had a couple of days off before the competition final to ensure your body is in optimum condition.
If you are feeling very nervous try using some deep breathing and progressive relaxation techniques to help you to remain calm and in the zone. In the run up to your time on stage listen to your song through your earphones and mentally rehearse your routine to help stimulate your muscle memory.
But most of all, best of luck! You will smash it and come away feeling so elated and proud.
What do you do to enter and prepare for a competition? Was there any stages that I missed out that you think are important? Let me know in the comments!