The Great Midwest Pole Dancing Competition - an interview with PDC Pioneer and pole dancing instructor Mary-Ellyn Weissmann.
2012 will see the welcome return of the Great Midwest Pole Dancing Competition, one of the most renowned American pole dancing competitions. The Midwest comp is a PDC approved event. We spoke to the event organiser Mary-Ellyn Weismann from ETED dance about the competition and its evolution.
What made you set up the Great Midwest Competition?
I was approached by several dancers in the community who felt that I was good at organizing and planning pole events and successful in bringing the community together for such things and was convinced to give it a try. Personally I thought it was a bunch of flattery as they figured if they could talk anyone into doing something like this it would be me!
I was probably the last person you would expect to run a competition as I generally do not like competitions and prefer showcases. I feel competitions are all about "me" and showcases are about "us". Having seen much negativity in the community following competitions I was put off by them. However, maybe it was better that I did this as I had no personal interest in competing and could organize the comp objectively and from a different perspective than some other organizers have done.
What was the highlight of last years competition?
The highlight wasn't a particular occurance but the way that all of our competitors came together to support each other.
Prior to the competition I had written to every competitor and emphasized that while everyone hopes to win and I didn't expect them to feel any differently, that this didn't mean you wished any ill toward the other finalists and that they needed to regard each other as a special family and look to each other for support. I told them that no matter how close they are to anyone in their life that no one will know exactly what they are feeling except for the other finalists who would be up on that stage that day with them.
Happily I believe they all accepted this concept and were e-mailing and posting to each other prior to the comp giving support and encouragement to co-competitors. The day of the competition each division of finalists stood to the side of the stage with their arms all wrapped around each other while we announced the results. It was so good to see this!
You had a great turnout last year, do you expect more competitors this year?
Absolutely! Their were a lot of people who could not prepare and plan to be at the competition as we planned it with only about 5 months notice. Additionally, I feel a lot of people were watching to see what shape this competition took on - and the responses have been very positive from all who participated so we expect to have even more apply this year. Finally, we have added a national pro division, which we did not have last year, so that will open up a whole extra division of applicants.
As the standard of pole dancing rises do you think the competition will be even tougher this year?
I definitely expect a higher skill level of pole dancers applying this year. The Midwest is slower in growth than the east and west coasts but we all saw what our community is capable of and the winners set a standard that everyone will realize needs to be beat in order to win this year. Also competitors know that the world is watching this competition so they are working hard to perform even better.
Who are the judges for this years finals and why did you pick them?
The online and final round judges are all leaders in the community who have been instrumental in the growth of pole dancing and standards of practice. All of our judges have had experience judging other competitions. Some have organized their own competitions and/or written judging criteria themselves so that they have a solid understanding of how a competition is run. Almost all of them have competition experience themselves with several titles of their own.
We chose our judges not only based on the above but because of their reputation within the community as people who are highly respected and trusted.
Picture above of the 2011 judges.
Finally I was adament that we have only pole dancers on our panel of judges. The pole community is large enough that we do not need to draw from other fields of fitness and dance to get the same backgrounds...many of our judges have backgrounds in fitness, gymnastics and traditional dance in addition to pole dancing. I don't want judges who do not understand pole dancing and are looking at it from another field's point of view. You would never see someone with only a pole dance background judge a ballet or ballroom competition...why should it be OK the other way around?
The on-line judges for 2012 are Katie Coates, Lizz Schofield, Michula Renee Nunez and Sam Remmer.
Judges for the 2012 final are Alethea Austin, Amber Fleur Richard, Estee Zakar, Fawnia Dietrich, Jamilla Deville and Karol Helms.
What can people expect from this year's comp?
As mentioned above, we are adding a national pro level to this year's competition. We also have changed our "amateur" level to consist only of spins, grounded transitions and floor work - eliminating climbing, sitting, upright/horizontal poses or inverts on the pole.
Additionally this year it's not just a competition but a convention. We will have over 40 workshops, daytime VIP showcases, seminars and other fun presentations in addition to an even larger vendor fair than last year.
Who has helped you organise the competition?
picture above right of the judges in action with event organiser Mary-Ellyn Weissman.
We are now partners with X-Pole who are helping us organize and plan to make this year's event bigger and better than last year.)
The Great Midwest Pole Dancing Competition are on the lookout for sponsors so please contact Mary-Ellyn via the Midwest Competition website if you are interested in sponsoring the event.
Congratulations to last years winners who were as follows:
Pole Performer Of The Year: Noelle Wood
2nd Place: Maria Kwiatkowski
3rd Place: Emiko Jaffe
Pole Performer Of The Year: Meagan Evanoff
2nd Place: Elizabeth Brower
3rd Place: Diana Sekura
Pole Performer Of The Year: Andrea Lui
2nd Place: Crystal Harris
3rd Place: Lyndi Rongisch (pictured left)
We would like to thank Mary-Ellyn for her continuing devotion to the pole dancing industry, we wish her and all the competitors every success for the 2012 event.