Kate Johnstone Pole Dance Judge
This article is written by Kate Edwards, PDC approved 4 star pole dancing instructor, and is a collaborative piece based on advice from some of the UK's top pole dance judges who include Aimee Lawson, Donna Gant, Jo Dandridge, Kate Johnstone, Pippa Loveridge, Robyn Rooke and Sam Remmer.

Kate Edwards - pictured left.

Video entries are a major part of UK and International Pole Competitions. Due to the popularity of the events, it is often necessary to have an initial entry round or qualification process, which for the sake of logistics and cost; is often done via video. Below are a few tips from a range of national and international competition judges to help you make sure your video entry is successful!

1. RULES Read the competition rules, this should be your first point of reference prior to planning your routine. Try and MAXIMISE the number of points you can achieve, some competitions give more points for costume or theme, some for tricks and execution – work out how you can get your highest score possible!

2. THE ROUTINE There are a whole number of factors to consider when putting together your choreography, here are just a few of them!

Use your music, work with the slower moments, the louder moments, and the lyrics – give us levels we want to see contrast in your routine – give us light and shade! Donna Gant Pole Dancing judge

Choose moves that suit your music. It’s no good launching into your favourite block of dynamic rolls, drops and explosive moves to a super slow sad song!

Show us balance, give us tricks – strength and flexibility work, give us spins, give us floorwork, use both your right side AND your left side, change height, change direction show us that you are a well-rounded pole dancer!

Donna Gant - pictured right.

Vary your trick choice – we don’t want to see all twisted grips, show us your versatility and rock your split grip or elbow grip too, balance out your arm and leg work on the pole.

Individuality – be unique, try and think about interesting entries and exits from moves, different ways of combining moves, new leg and arm lines.

Make it suit you! Don’t choose tricks because they are trendy or popular – choose tricks that suit your body and your abilities.

Choose tricks that are competition ready! New tricks are not for routines! They are to be practiced hundreds of times until they are consistently nailed! Keep them in your tricks box until they are competition ready! Choose tricks that you can perform exceptionally every time!

Pay as much attention to the dance/flow elements as your tricks – don’t just practice your harder bits, make every section look polished.

There are times you need to look at the pole (so you know where it is and what is gripping!) there are lots of times you don’t! Give yourself time to add in eye contact and facial expressions, choreograph these in if need be!

Give yourself enough time to demonstrate proper execution. We are talking strong lines, body tension, legs and arms, feet and hands – point those toes! Don’t rush through, every routine needs fewer tricks and combos than you think. If your routine is awesome then the judge shouldn't be drawn to your toes anyway.

Work clean! Try not to make too many hand adjustments, shuffles, messy transitions. If you need to wipe your hands – make it part of your choreography rather than obviously wiping your hands or picking your hotpants out of your bottom!

Work purposefully – make every movement intentional! In the words of Robyn Rooke, each move should set up for the next and seamlessly knit together.

Jo Dandridge pole dancerGive us a beginning, a middle and an end – don’t let your level of difficulty/technical drop – be consistent. Make sure you have the appropriate stamina and endurance to get through your piece safely and to finish without puffing and panting!

Your routine should feel fantastic to you! It should feel natural, it should be a piece of work you are proud of! That will come across to us as we are judging you.

3. AUDIENCE Remember, in a video entry, your audience is your video camera. Make sure you angle your routine and your tricks towards your ‘audience’. Try not to look or perform into mirrors or to anybody else that might be in the room! If you need a physical audience – why not rope a few friends in to sit directly behind your camera?

4. PERFORMANCE Just because it a video entry, does not mean it should not be a performance. This is NOT a run through! Make sure you are in full costume, make-up and hair where applicable. Use your whole body to perform, I want to see your facial expressions and I want to see you give that routine your all!

5. TECHNICAL A video routine is far more successful if we can see and hear you clearly. Make sure you use a good quality video camera, make sure your room is well lit and the camera is at a good angle. Always film the right way up and try and place your camera on a tripod or solid surface (no judge likes shaky camera!) Make sure your stereo system is loud enough that we can clearly hear your music and that there are no other distractions in the room (this includes but is not limited to pets, children, friends whooping and cheering, a class going on in the background and other interruptions!)

6. PRACTICE Film yourself more than once! This may be on different days, times, in different studios, watch them back – and make sure you are happy with them. Make sure you meet all of the above criteria. Make sure your submission reflects the best you can do that particular routine at that particular time – that way, you can be proud of your entry!

7. MIRRORS Just mirrors sooooo many people use them on videos and I feel it is a massive hindrance to there performance as if they need them there not feeling a move there checking they have got full extentions and become fixated with them and totally ruins a performance for me!

8. DIFFERENT COMP DIFFERENT YEAR - I think as well that if you decide to enter a previous performance you have to make sure that it's right for THIS competition at this year's level.

My final words are when it comes down to it, you won’t be successful in every competition you enter. Try and absorb the judge’s feedback, try and grow from the experience, try and use every entry, every performance, and every show to make you better at whatever it is you do. Don’t compare yourself to others and always enjoy the moment – it will be over before you know it! I hope this has been useful and will help to develop your future routines into pieces of art that you can be proud of!

Kate Edwards Team Spin City Spin City Instructor Training UKPPC

Ps – that wee you need before you turn the camera on or go on stage? It’s always a phantom one!



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