How To Create A Successful Pole Competition Video Entry
Have you been thinking about entering a pole competition? Wondering what it takes to make a great pole competition video entry?
In today's article I'm going to take you behind the scenes of my first competition video entry.
I'll be revealing what to do and what not to do, along with what went well and where I went wrong to help you avoid making the same mistakes!
What You Will Learn
- How To Create Your Competition Routine
- What To Look Out For Before You Enter
- How To Choose Your Category
- Where To Find Stunning Costumes
- How To Film Your Routine In A Small Room
- What To Do If You Don't Make The Finals
How To Get Started
So you've decided you want to take part in a pole competition, but you're not sure where to start.
The first thing you'll need to do is find a good competition for beginners.
When I say beginners, I don't mean that you necessarily need to compete at beginner level. Just that you'll want to be somewhere that you feel comfortable taking your first steps on the stage.
There are lots of regional competitions around to get you started and many of them have beginner categories too!
Once you've decided on a competition that's close enough for you to travel to, you'll need to drop them an email, fill out your registration and pay for your entry.
Make sure you give yourself a couple of months to prepare everything.
If entries close at the end of October for example, you'll want to be starting to get everything prepared by around August.
For my entry I gave myself the right amount of time but left a lot of things until the last minute. I focused a lot of time on the routine itself, which meant unforeseen complications later on limited my potential for success.
What To Watch Out For When Entering A Pole Competition
Some regional competitions now have a classique category as well.
If you have a much bigger story to tell you might prefer to enter a Pole Theatre competition.
If you're usually tricks based with some lyrical dance experience the traditional categories ranging from beginner to intermediate, advanced, amateur and professional in your regional competitions will be perfect.
You should check the rules of each competition before you enter as they vary from place to place.
Some competitions don't allow heels while others do. Some will have rules that forbid the showing of 'gluteal fold' - the crease where the top of your thigh meets your bum.
Each competition will have its own rules for entry, so check these carefully to make sure you don't get disqualified!
How To Choose Your Category
Each category will have it's own rules.
There will be specific moves that you can not perform in beginner and intermediate levels and some competitions will have compulsory moves or combos in the advanced categories.
That means you should make sure you are comfortable performing any compulsory combos before you enter that category, but don't limit yourself too much.
In choosing my category I thought it would be a great idea to enter intermediate even though I can pull off a lot of advanced tricks.
For a first competition that can seem like the best thing to do so that you are performing moves you are very comfortable with. In the event of stage fright you won't be doing anything too far out of your comfort zone either.
I still think this was a good idea, despite it not working out for me.
It was difficult to figure out which tricks were considered advanced as a lot of advanced moves come quite naturally to me.
So despite emailing back and forth with the organisers to check if moves were allowed, I still managed to mess up and add a couple of moves that were too advanced for the category.
The general rule of thumb was that each move must have three points of contact and no 'hands only' moves, which turned out not to be quite so straight forward.
I checked many of the tricks I planned to put into my routine, and while they were very helpful in clarifying what was ok and what wasn't, there were a few I was sure I didn't need to check.
The lesson here is, if in doubt always double check!
Going forward I don't think I will limit myself again.
Entering the most challenging category for your skill level will mean you won't have to miss out any of your favourite tricks and combos.
You'll also push yourself further, which will do wonders for your progress.
Competition training really brings your pole skills to the next level!
How To Create Your Competition Routine
So you've picked your competition, you've chosen the category and checked what moves you can and can't do. You've registered and double checked any rules for entry.
At this point it can feel quite overwhelming, you've entered a competition and you have no idea what to do. How will your routine look? How do you put it together?
What song are you even going to use?
At this point I already had a few songs I had come across that I knew I wanted to dance to if I ever performed, so I listened to them and chose the one I was really feeling at the time.
If you don't have a song in mind, listen to some of your favourites. Imagine dancing to them in your mind or if you have a pole handy why not have a little freestyle to see which one gives you the best vibe.
There are a couple of things to be mindful of at this point.
Try not to pick a song that is too fast. If this is your first performance you'll want to pick something with a beat that you can really feel but that doesn't make you go wild and fast.
You don't want to burn out too quickly or end up with a rushed routine.
The other thing is more of a personal preference but I'll share it anyway.
If you choose your favourite song in the world, be pre-warned that you will probably be sick of hearing it by the time you're done training and competing.
Once you have a song creating your routine is pretty simple when you break it down into bite size pieces.
- Pick 6-12 tricks (depending on your song length) that you feel comfortable performing
- Pick 6-7 of your favourite floorwork moves
- Write them down and think about which ones link together well
- Plan the routine on paper this way and then practise putting them together on the pole with your music.
- Take it slow and don't rush through your moves and tricks.
- You might find that some things don't fit in, or other moves flow better that you didn't originally plan - that's fine!
- Remember to have a point to focus on that can be your 'audience'. You'll want to perform to your audience, make eye contact and make sure they get the best angles for your tricks.
- Once you have the basic layout of your routine, practise, practise, practise!
- Focus on making your transitions smooth. Transitional points are also the easiest place to forget about pointing your toes.
You should choose some tricks and floorwork that you are confident with first. Then add a couple that you are capable of but that you find a little challenging to push yourself to your full potential.
Don't Forget Your Costume
Even though this is only a video entry, you are still part of your chosen competition from the moment you register.
Video entries are marked in the same way as a live performance, which means you'll get bonus points for great costume ideas that work well with your theme.
This was another downfall in the planning stages of my entry. I had a good few months to sort everything out but I totally misjudged the timing.
The initial costume I had planned was supposed to be nude and rhinestoned, but when I finally found someone to rhinestone my costume I realised I was out of time!
In the end I just wore my favourite lacy pole set, which worked well but wasn't quite the standard of the dazzling costume I had planned.
If you're short of ideas for costumes or aren't sure where you can get one made I would highly recommend the lovely designs by Fi Bourke. They are absolutely stunning!
Filming Your Pole Competition Video Entry
So you've practised and practised hard, your costume is ready to go and now all you need to do is send in your video entry!
There are a few things to remember before you hit record on your camera.
You'll need to find a space similar to the layout of the stage you'll be performing on, so ideally there will be two poles, one static and one on spin.
Try to find out which way around they will be in the finals so that you don't need to change your routine if you get through.
Your camera should be positioned where your audience would be to give the judges the best view of your performance. If you struggle to fit both poles into your camera view use the best angle possible and perform to the camera.
Alternatively, you could use a GoPro like I did. They come with a handy wide lens setting so that you can fit more in at a closer distance.
If your wide lens creates a 'fish eye' effect on your video you can easily remove this using the GoPro Studio app for your PC.
I had a really simple set up with a cheap tripod to make sure I could get the best angle for my video entry.
However, I did leave the filming of my entry until the very last minute. I kept putting it off because I was busy but in the end I only had one day to film.
I learned two important things from that.
Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. On top of that, it's very tiring running through an entire competition routine 10 or more times in one 2-3 hour time slot you have planned out.
In my case, I actually changed part of the routine on the day to keep the pole spinning through my spin section and thought up a better finish.
That wasn't until after a few run throughs of the original, realising I needed to hold each trick a bit longer, and ironing out the kinks.
It was actually a technical error that let me down though. I was connected to my broken phone via wifi to set up the shot and it decided to press the stop button all by itself about 14 seconds in on 5 out of 8 of my recordings! I hadn't even realised.
By the time I did realise what had happened, I was starting to tire from so many runs of the routine and my GoPro battery was dwindling fast.
In the end I was left picking the best one out of three that had actually recorded, and those weren't even the best of what I had done that day.
It was a tough lesson to learn, but a mistake I won't make again!
So whatever you do, don't make the mistake I did. Give yourself more than one day of filming, with plenty of time to try again before the entry deadline if things don't go as planned. *Facepalm*
What To Do If You Don't Get Through
In case you have been wondering, I didn't make it into the finals after entering my video!
The competition organisers wrote a very encouraging message about the high standard of entries and how close everyone was though, so that was nice.
What you should also receive once you hear news of whether you did or didn't get through is some helpful feedback from your judges.
In my case, I had some great feedback and I was really pleased with the comments about my routine. This was also the point where I realised some of the tricks I had included were too advanced for my category.
It's important not to feel downhearted about not getting through, take your feedback and run with it. Work on the things that need improving and learn from your mistakes.
There's always next time and it can only make you a much stronger pole dancer!
I haven't posted my routine publicly up until now, but just for you here's an exclusive reader's peek at the video I entered for my first competition.
I made a lot of 'facepalm' errors in preparing for and entering my first pole competition video entry. I wasn't expecting to get through in the slightest but I won't forget the lessons I've learned.
In doing so I really hope that sharing the experience with you guys means you will avoid making those same mistakes!
Have you got any more tips to share on entering competitions that I haven't mentioned here?
Let us know in the comments!