Monday, January 31, 2011

Competition Breeds...More Competitions?

1:49 am  - I can't sleep.  I just had the delicious task of going through all of my old pole dancing videos.  It's really kind of fun to see how far I've come over the years and rather cringe worthy when I watch myself way back when...eeek!  I can almost see the point where I finally "GOT IT" not moves persay but got the whole pole dancing thing.  You know the whole concept of flowing, gliding seamlessly into one thing then the other in a subconscious stream of physical ecstasy.

It was mid last summer when the whole idea of maybe, think about, maybe submitting for competitions came about.  I'm not a terribly competitive person on the whole, I don't mind losing at board games - EVEN IF My boyfriend only has to answer pi questions when we play trivial pursuit because he always seems to land perfectly on pi no matter what!?!?  This doesn't bother me, much.  I am not kidding he always lands on pi!  I am the one who ends up struggling to land on pi, I answer like a million questions in a row, land on pi, get the most impossible question ever and then have to start all over again!  I digress.

Mid last summer a good friend suggested I throw my hat into the running for a competition.  This idea just hadn't occurred to me and I certainly did not think I was even close to ready or good enough.  I wasn't, I didn't get in. What I did get was some great feedback, for the first time in my short time pole dancing I was given a critique that made me really change my angle on things and ultimately led me to being able to sell myself and get accepted into a competition.

Still the want to compete has never made me want to sign up for silly competitions just to be in them.  I've actually been a part of so called competitions with so called legitimate regional titles - Miss Pole Erotica, and watched it end in a booty shake off!  Yup!  Booty Shake Off.

Just because it's a competition doesn't mean it's good
Dancers, I know how badly we all want to reach the level of being competition quality dancers - whether it's to win a title or just know that you are super good!  But, I'm about to rain on your parade.  Not all competitions are good competitions and they are not all run by well meaning people with the best interest of the pole community in hearts.  Sometimes people just want to make a name for themselves and they don't care about you the dancer.  Need I remind you of a pole competition last year that was squelched before it really began when the organizer decided to make a VLOG defaming Bad Kitty?  That competition fell apart in just less than 24 hours after the VLOG aired when all of the celebrity pole judges pulled their names from the competition.  It's my opinion that the organizer of that particular event only cared about themselves and for a moment got so haughty they thought they were actually bigger than Bad Kitty - and no one's bigger than Bad Kitty (well, maybe X-Pole!)

That wasn't all that was wrong with the aforementioned competition.  There was very little information about judging and a number of other things pertinent to pole dancers wishing to enter.  Someone really was just riding off of the names of their celebrity judges to promote...again themselves.  It was a sham.

How do I know if a competition is worth my time?
First off let me say that any chance you get to perform in a SAFE environment (this means free of demeaning things like tip buckets) you should consider it, if it's not costing you anything.  Small local competitions can be good things if they are run by the right people.  Sometimes studios will run small competitions, by all means take part in these things after you've researched the parties involved.  I reiterate if it costs you nothing and the travel is convenient take part - just make sure the ORGANIZERS are the UP AND UP.

Red Flags
Research the people running or judging these things.  Do they have good reputations?  Have they been involved in scandal?  Have they been malicious in any way towards any studios?  Do they own studios?  Are they renowned, even locally, for their dance ability, teaching ability, organizing ability, anything?  Why are they putting on a competition?  Are they making outrageous allegations - like for example that no other competition judges fairly?  What do they have to gain? Do they have the dancers best interest at heart or are they someone who has pulled outrageous stunts to get publicity?  Do your research because you might just find out the organizer has been involved with scandals or caused them.  You might find out that the only reason they are holding a competition is to build their own name.

What is their judging criteria?  Make them tell you.  Are they using their own criteria or ripping off another organization?  If a competition is truly something you should be apart of, the organizers should have taken the time to set up their own standards.  While competition standards may bear striking similarities, organizers should have a clear cut idea of what they are looking for and they should openly share that with you.  If they are linking you to another organizations judging system they clearly have not thought much about their own competition.  Organizers should be creative!  I remember hearing one of the larger challenges at EMW was that competitors had to submit their routines in writing to judges and they were actually judged on how well they followed their routine!  Brilliant!  It's difficult and challenging and adds a new spin to pole dancing.  I might add that as a freestyle dancer I'd never have made it.  Kudos to the amazing men and women who took part and wowed us!

The competition should have an actual prize that is not available to the open public.  A proper competition comes with a title!  Think X-pose's pole princess or Pole Am Winner, Pole Drama Winner, Trixpert Winner - these are TITLES that you must WIN.  The prize should also include (some) cash.  Your win should MEAN something.

If the audience has ANY say in who wins - this is not a well run competition.  If the audience is allowed to TIP dancers in any way, shape or form - this is NOT a legitimate competition.  If the winner is decided by applause or tips - run away!  The audience's interaction should end at cheering.  Now, if a competition wants to allow judges to make their ruling but allow the audience to pick a favorite - that's fine, however the audience should not determine the winner - that's what judges are for!

I still just really want to compete
As long as you understand that some of the competitions you may encounter are not worth your time that's fine.  If you can go out, perform your heart out and have a great time - well, that's what counts the most.  I just wouldn't want any dancer to be deceived by competitions popping that seem well and fine but are truly only in place to put the organizer on the map.  Research the organizer.  Please.

While we may all want to be competitive dancers and I think it's great for dancers to have choices we still should try to extricate ourselves from people who are putting on competitions that are misleading.  If a competition is using another's organizations NAME to promote themselves, please boycott it.  Only by standing together do we weed out trouble makers.

Note - I don't think it's wrong for competitions to honor other organizations status's and rankings in determining where competitors would fall within their competition.   I just think it's wrong and highly unethical to use the exact SAME judging criteria as another organization.

Competitions I like this year
The year is still fresh although this January makes it feel as if we've already been through 12 months of hell.  So far I the competitions I am most interested in - whether competing or performing are:
USPDF Nationals and Regionals.  This organization has set the standard for pole competitions.
EMW - I hope, hope, hope Michula and Sam will do it again.  I thought they brought some truly unique competitions into our world
The Great Midwest Pole Competition - hosted by Empowerment Through Exotic Dance.  I attended the Great Midwest Pole Jam last year and had such a wonderful time.  I have total faith in the organizers that this will rock the midwest's world!
APFA They might be the new kid on the block but I believe this competition is held fairly and with integrity.
Pole Dancing Universe An international pole dance competition here in the USA?  I am intrigued.  This one is going to be good!

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