DIARY OF A POLE DANCER
X-Pole Girl Marlo Fisken Talks to Vertical
IPC: Year of the warrior : Hong Kong
The International Pole Championship was held in Hong Kong for the first time on Thursday March 15, 2012. For the past two years the IPDFA, led by Ania Przeplasko, presented the event in Tokyo. This year, Ania along with head judge Natalie Tekanawa of Australia, wanted to do something different.
The IPDFA is known for their professionalism and their ability to orchestrate a classy championship that includes male and female solos, doubles, and disabled competitors. Even though organizing a pole event in a foreign land where the stage requirements are complex and many competitors need extensive documentation is no easy task, the event was beautifully run. The flawless Jenyne Butterfly opened the show with a dance to traditional Chinese music performed by a live singer. Immediately after, a team of traditional Chinese dragon dancers filled the stage, manipulating a 40-foot glowing pink dragon and blessing the stage and performers with good luck. I was just hoping the dragon made the poles nice and sticky.
As with every competition there was a frenzy of preparation and the dancers faced a number of physiological symptoms: jet lag, stage concerns, and nerves from months of energy funneled into one performance. As each competitor took the stage, everyone in the room focused with them – watching, and waiting to understand their message. Many competitors in this elite international competition chose themes such as bravery, battle, exploration, aggression and forces of nature for their dances. Even the competitors who choose to tell a story of love, comedy or nature, reflected the fighting nature of the young men and women of IPC. As the show went on I thought, “Why are so many competitors gravitating towards either themes of battle or conquest?”
Maybe in a sport with no ceiling, competitors relate to songs that instill that pre-battle adrenalin rush. It’s difficult to compete as a soft and gentle character, and in this particular competition every single solo competitor was a power person. No showgirls or showboys, no super bendy people. Female pole athletes appear to be pushing themselves to be as strong, precise, and as dominant as possible. The men are too, but that is to be expected. The women are raising the standard at an
incredible pace. It’s exciting and empowering. The thing to remember is that in performance, it comes down to impact. What does the audience remember? Sometimes costumes, sometimes mistakes, but we always remember performances that made us FEEL. Rarely does the audience remember what exactly was done on the pole. Sequencing for the purpose of “showing off” will never be more effective than sequencing for the purpose of precision, direction, and most of all emotion. Most of the winners did exactly that. Advice to future competitors: steer clear of passes at the upper limit of your abilities unless you have plenty time to rehearse and guarantee their execution. Instead, work on your emotional expression. So far I have not been to a pole competition where there is no score for showmanship, performance ability, audience engagement etc. Until that point, competitors that stand out will always be those that unabashedly face the audience, express themselves in earnest, train mentally and physically like mad, and adhere to their theme from start to finish. Bravo to the IPDFA for organizing another great championship and congratulations to the winners!
Thank you for your hard work and contribution to this form of sport and art!