Updated: Dec 31, 2019
Creating your own pole piece and preparing to compete is a daunting task, especially when juggling work, personal life, family, friends, and all the other commitments that life throws at you. So how can you stay sane, make the most of your practice time, and still have a successful and fun competition experience? It might be easier than you think…
1) Select music that inspires you
Music can truly make all the difference in how quickly and easily your piece comes together. As you’re hearing music and sounds around you, keep an ear out for specific features that you immediately envision as a potential foundation for a pole routine. Does the creepy sound of the music give you visions of all the ways you could roll around the stage? Is there a crescendo that would be perfect for your favorite drop? Can you already see yourself in a flashy costume pretending to be a Backstreet Boy? These aspects give you the structure around which to build the rest of the piece, and it becomes infinitely easier to build moves and combos on top of this structure.
2) Choose one goal for performance
If you’re busy and trying to integrate competition training into your already-packed life, you’re probably not going to have time to perfect every single aspect of the routine and perform it flawlessly on the day of the competition (but you never know!). Therefore, pick one goal that you’re really trying to achieve with the competition and work towards that aspect. For example, the goal for my last competition was to be more emotive on stage. Even though I had a slight misstep at the end of my routine, I still feel incredibly proud and accomplished of that competition because I was the most expressive I’ve ever been in a performance.
3) Be realistic about your capabilities
Unless your main goal for the competition is to complete the hardest moves possible, pick skills to place into your routine that you can almost complete or that need only a bit of polish. Additionally, think about what music, style of dance, and storytelling come naturally to you. This lets you focus on really working towards your one goal (see above) and takes away the added stress of fighting to make the other bits of the routine work for the way you naturally move.
4) Simulate the competition atmosphere
One of the hardest parts about a competition is the unique warm-up situation before taking the stage in front of an audience. Unlike a practice session, you often don’t have a ton of space or pole time to warm up, and I’ve often found it’s difficult to keep warm before starting. Therefore, practice running your piece in a similar environment when you train. This means completing a self-led warm up and then asking a few students in the studio to watch immediately after and run the piece through without stopping (no matter what happens!). This helps give you the confidence on the day of the competition that your body can run the piece, even without any time on the specific pole beforehand.
5) Train smart
If you’re busy, you’re likely not going to have a ton of time to choreograph, train, and run every part of your piece multiple times a day. Therefore, try to start as early as possible brainstorming the key sequences of your routine. Break up your routine into smaller pieces and practice one or two of these pieces after completing your first run through each day. Additionally, video as much as possible so you can see aspects you’d like to change or polish more quickly as you’re training or immediately after your training session. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck on choreography or a single move!
Competing is always a time commitment, no matter how appropriately you plan. However, by selecting compelling music, honing in on a single goal for your performance, being realistic, and training efficiently with the competition in mind, you can make your training experience more efficient, less stressful, and more fun overall. So go out there and nail it!