Perhaps you have recently performed, or maybe you have a competition coming up, in either case you want to know what you can do if you have gotten some feedback that might hurt your feelings, or perhaps does not reflect how you felt the performance came across. Any feedback that isn’t a straight up compliment may be seen as ‘negative’, but I will explain why this should not be the case, but first of all here are a few ground rules to deal with it off the bat…
1. Give Yourself Time To Process
Yes, there is going to be a bit of a grieving process when you initially read your feedback. The stage performance or video entry may well have been the very best, cleanest version that you’ve ever performed, and you may be disappointed if you have not placed or qualified, and this is completely normal and natural! You have probably worked extremely hard on your routine, dedicating a lot of time and effort in the run up to the deadline or live final, emotions are bound to run high.
Give yourself permission to express your emotions in a healthy and controlled manner. By all means scream, shout, cry if you have to. However, I recommend leaving such emotions to somewhere quiet and away from the crowd. Whatever you do, do not start ranting and raging back stage to the other performers. It really isn’t good sportsmanship, and you need to allow those who won to enjoy their victory, after all they have undoubtedly worked just as hard as you have, and will have won for a reason.
2. Impose A Social Media Ban
Following on from point numero uno. It is bad etiquette to rant on social media about post-competition frustrations. If you have an issue with the scoring, most competitions are happy for you to email them regarding your feedback. You can certainly post about your day, and if you are disappointed you didn’t win then you can say that, no one can blame you! However, do not start attacking the competition, the judges, or the other competitors, it is poor taste and disrespectful to all of their hard work.
If you are worried that you might be tempted to indulge in this type of social media sharing then impose a social media ban for the first 24-48 hours after your competition. You can even go so far as to have a friend change your passwords for you if you are really worried, but this should not be necessary.
The only time I would say this does not apply is if you seriously suspect or have witnessed a competition or event that has been run in an extremely unfair or dishonest manner. The pole community is very tight knit, and we are certainly loyal to a fault, which means we are often worried about speaking up against bad practice within the industry. However, I would advise exhausting all direct contact solutions before going public with your grievances, because they could always be a misunderstanding or something rectified via email.
3. Prep Your Entourage On Post-Comp / Performance Etiquette
Just as you must prepare how you deal with a loss or ‘negative’ feedback in public, you should also prep those who are closest to you. It isn’t uncommon to see the friends and family of a competitor posting furious messages on social media about how ‘they were robbed’, and *insert conspiracy theory here*. I know they are just trying to be supportive, but there are friendlier ways to go about it.
The best way to deal with this is to choose your chaperones wisely, and do not encourage your ‘kerosene friends’ in the case that you do not win or receive negative feedback. I call these people ‘kerosene friends’ because they are the ones you do not need throwing more of their fuel on your fire – God love them, they would probably back you up in a bar fight, but the truth is, whether they mean to or not, they will rapidly escalate any negative feelings you may already have. So, let them save their enthusiasm for fighting your corner for more serious situations, such as dealing with cheating ex-partners, or that girl Becky down the road who called you a tramp and stole your chicken nuggets that one time. (I of course do not condone any violence, even if chicken nuggets are involved).
Let your crew know that you might not win, and that if you don’t there will be a reason for it, even if they think you’re the dog’s bollocks. Make it clear that what they write on social media reflects back onto you, so if they are rude or aggressive whilst posting about the competition, people may believe that you feel the same way.
Pole is meant to be a loving, caring little club, and this extends to the friends and families of pole dancers too. Let’s make sure we keep things positive for everyone involved.
4. Re-framing Time; Feedback Is Not Failure
Now, you have had the time to grieve and process your emotions. It is time for you to revisit the feedback and examine it again in a more positive light. The first thing to realise is that feedback does not equal failure! Just because you did not win this time, does not mean that your performance was not worth anything or a waste of time. Every opportunity you have to get feedback from professional performers is your opportunity to grow and develop as a dancer.
Maybe they critiqued your lines, how clean your performance was, or your stage presence. Yes, it may have been the very best you have ever performed, but they don’t know that. They are there to tell you what you need to improve and how you can become the best at what you are there to do, pole dance! I have seen previously people lamenting their feedback saying they didn’t expect to be judged so harshly – but yes, they are called judges for a reason. Feedback makes you strong, it makes you better, and it gives you a set of directions and goals to aim towards. Just like Rupaul says, no excuses, just refine your art and work to improve and wow them next time!
When your pole fam spend their days complimenting everything you do it can be difficult to then hear some hard truths, especially since they are often delivered by some of your pole idols. Don’t let this get you down – take what they have said on board, and use it to hone your training and improve your next performance. This is why I put ‘negative’ in apostrophes, because whilst some feedback may read as harsh or even mean, they almost guaranteed did not mean for it to be ‘negative’, but actually constructive to help you improve. Which takes me on to my final point…
5. Understand That Judging Is Not An Easy Job
Judging is definitely not a walk in the park; whilst sitting in front of the stage, pen in hands, occasionally getting up to do a guest performance, may look like an easy gig I have first hand accounts of how difficult it can be.
My instructor Rosa-Lisa has judged competitions including IUPDC (Inter-Uni Pole Comp), Derby Inter-Uni, Bangor Varsity, and now has MPDUK Amateur/Semi-Pro coming up this month. She has stated that judging is definitely NOT an easy task.
The judges are simultaneously watching you perform and writing down your feedback at the same time. They do not want to miss any fun or exciting tricks or moves you put in, but at the same time, they do not want to wait to leave a feedback note to the end of your performance and then forget what they were going to write. It only takes a few seconds of them writing on your feedback form to miss out on your big trick on spinny pole, or a cool transition you used in your floor work. As a result, their comments may be short, and come across as curt and nonconstructive – they simply haven’t had the time to expand upon what they wanted to say. Sometimes a comment might not make complete sense to you, again, this is probably due to the time constraints that the judges face when writing up their feedback for you.
It is important when reading your feedback that you keep this in mind, so that you do not get upset or think the judges are being deliberately ‘negative’ towards you or your performance. Again, if you have any problems with your feedback or wish to have some clarification, I am sure you can contact the competition organisers to find out how you can go about this.
Remember that you went to the competition to perform, if you make this your no.1 priority, rather than simply going ‘to win’, then you will leave a winner regardless of if you have a trophy in hand or not. The right attitude is essential in growing as a pole dancer, and making the most out of your opportunities to perform. Take your feedback on board, find the positives from the criticisms, and hit the studio, better, stronger and more experienced.
Have you got any tips on how to handle ‘negative’ feedback after competition video entries and live finals? What helps you deal with the criticism and move forward in your training?