The Wednesday after Showcase was over, the Showtime Class of 2018 performed our solos. The audience comprised of the rest of the class and those friends, family and other students and teachers who had stuck around to watch.
It's always a wonderful night.
My two best friends, Pat and Hilal, were busy early Wednesday evening, so I scheduled my performance last so that they would be able to get there in time to watch, as they were both really keen to see me perform. I was looking forward to seeing what the incredible girls of Showtime 2018 had put together as well, although I was super nervous about going last.
I'm actually one of those people who likes to get up on stage first, or as close to first as I can, because the longer I wait to perform the more anxious and stressed I become. I was actually feeling very confident regarding my solo this year, but volunteering to go last was not something I have ever done before, under any circumstances, and so it was a new experience for me to wait. It did, however, mean I got to appreciate my fellow performers' dances (they were [and are] all so incredible!) in moderate comfort, rather than sitting around in sweaty pole clothes.
As for my dance, I think I nailed it.
Barbell Dancer's Showtime 2018 Solo
Music: This Feeling by The Chainsmokers feat. Kelsea Ballerini
Choerography: My own
Video: T. MThe
This dance was a personal story about finding acceptance and self-love in a world where to be different makes one a target for prejudice and ridicule. It took me a long time to come to terms with who I was and to love myself inside and out: my solo this year expressed all those things and, for those clued in enough, I shared something with them.
Professional photos of our solos by the fabulously talented Emily from EMC Photography came out yesterday, a bonus Christmas present for me and the other Divas. You can see a selection of my favourites below.
After solos on Wednesday, we redid our group performance from SHOWCASE. As some of you will be aware, due to bad luck and general positioning, I wasn't in any of the shots of the Showtime group performance at SHOWCASE, but I had better luck on the Wednesday night and there were several decent shots of me during the dance. This really put the cake on SHOWCASE 2018 for me, as it meant I had at least one photo of myself in each one of my dances.
And a pole dancer can NEVER have too many photos.
Before I close, I'd like to share one more photo with you. Some of the instructors who weren't teaching that evening came to watch us perform, including Pole and Aerial Divas Caroline Springs Studio Owner Kristy Lee. Kristy is not only the owner of PADCS, but a competitive pole dancer, incredible instructor, and an all around wonderful person. She has been both a mentor and inspiration for me since I joined Pole Divas and I'm so glad it was her Pole Divas studio I walked into. For me, she ranks up there with Pat and Hilal as one of the most inspirational people in my life, and someone who has always believed I am an achiever. Here is a picture of the two of us together after all the performances were over.
And that's Barbell Dancer out! PADCS doesn't reopen until the New Year, so there won't be anything new in Pole Dancing until January 2019. I'm keeping busy over my holiday, however, and you can keep up with my weight training and gains over in the Weight Lifting section of this blog, and track my personal opinions by clicking into Straight Living. As always, @barbelldancer on Instagram will be regularly updated with photos of all sorts and I look forward to another year of blogging in 2019.
On Friday, two days before SHOWCASE 2018, I wrote this post. I wasn't feeling great about SHOWCASE on Friday, in fact I hadn't really been feeling good about it for several weeks. You can read the whole post if you want to know more, but I was basically dreading SHOWCASE and hating pole, although (I must be stronger than I think because) I didn't quit.
I performed all my five dances in SHOWCASE 2018 two weeks ago: Intermediate Spin, Exotica Chair, Intermediate Static, Booty and Showtime, and then my Showtime Solo routine last Wednesday.
So, given how I was feeling before SHOWCASE, how do I feel now that it's over for another year and I've had some time to breathe?
My primary emotion immediately after SHOWCASE was relief, but not just a 'phew, I made it', more of a 'thank FUCK that's over!' kind of relief. I will confess however that the week of pole prior to SHOWCASE was not as stressful as it could have been: freestyle and tricks came back and I was gently reminded that, if I don't tell my instructors that I miss freestyle and tricks then they don't know and they can't ensure that class is the right mix of SHOWCASE practice, course content and freestyle. I felt much better in class the week before SHOWCASE than I had at any point in Term 6 - I was finally happy to be in pole class again.
I handled the 'during' part of SHOWCASE well too. Last year both my dances were at the very end of the evening and I had to kill about two hours before I went on stage. This year, with more dances, I was on stage more often and didn't have as long to wait backstage at any point.
I did some amateur theatre in my younger years and the worst part about any play or performance was the waiting! I have been lucky that, when it comes to performing, I have never suffered from any kind of stage fright and, in fact, I really enjoy the rush that comes from being up in front of an audience. Believe it or not, one of my favourite things to do is public speaking and I entered many speaking competitions over my high school years - being on stage or in front of an audience has never bothered me, but the waiting is the absolute worst and SHOWCASE (or any pole performance/competition I've done) has been no different.
Although I won't pretend I didn't have some fun backstage with my pole sistas. Backstage SHOWCASE is certainly anything but formal and stuffy, and we all let a little loose and have a good time before, after and inbetween all our dances.
SHOWCASE 2018 Backstage Antics!
So, now that you know what I got up to backstage, how did my dances go? Given all the stress I was under previously, was I OK when I started dancing?
The answer: I did pretty well.
Strangely enough, my deeply personal and honest blog post from the week before SHOWCASE helped lift some of the pressure off my shoulders, and the multitude of supportive comments and messages from my friends made me feel less alone, so I was actually in a better headspace than I had been previously.
Comments from my friends on my pre-SHOWCASE blog post, reminding me that I'm not alone.
Getting up on stage for my first dance - Inter Spin - was not as challenging as I thought it might have been. Something Kristy always says at the beginning of every SHOWCASE came back to me as I was waiting behind my pole to begin my first dance: 'The audience don't know how to pole dance, so whatever you do will look amazing, and the ones that do know how to pole dance weren't brave enough to get up here today, so you are awesome!'
I don't know if I was 'awesome', but I certainly enjoyed myself once I got up on stage and had fun dancing. After Inter Spin I did Exotic Chair; I was actually unexpectedly up on the stage for this routine, almost nose-to-nose with the audience, and panicked a little, moving slightly too fast and then having to hold a pose to let the others catch up. According to those watching, however, I did a great job so I'll take their word for it.
From Exotic Chair I then did my Inter Static dance. Inter Static is my favourite course and the dance was probably my second favourite of the evening. I really felt confident in this one and could pull off all the tricks and transitions. Score One for me!
After Inter Static I had a costume change and it was into Booty. Booty was a workshop I did earlier this term, learning a full 2.5 minute routine in 1.5 hours and then watching the video over and over and over again before SHOWCASE to try and cement it in my head. I was petrified of doing this dance and it was the one I most seriously considered pulling out of. Am I glad I didn't? Well, if the cheering from the crowd was anything to go by it was a great dance, and I certainly remembered more of it than I thought I would, but it wasn't my favourite one of the evening. I think, however, that if I had pulled out I would have regretted it when the other girls went on stage, so, on the whole, I'm glad I put myself out there and did it.
Then, after Booty, it was time for a bit of a break and then into the most anticipated dance of SHOWCASE: Showtime! As mentioned in previous posts, Showtime was the dance I most enjoyed learning and I had so much fun in this special course during Term 6. Unfortunately, due to bad luck and my various positions during this dance, there is not a single photo of me during the Showtime dance to share with you, so please enjoy this wonderful picture of the Showtime Class of 2018 and our amazing instructor. We danced to 'Glamorous' by Fergie feat. Ludacris and our costume theme was gold, silver or white. I think we all look amazing!
So, there you have it. I had fun, as I knew I would, but I'm glad it's over for another year. As mentioned above, I did preform a solo the Wednesday after SHOWCASE as part of my Showtime course, but I'm still waiting for photos from that to come through, so will post when I get those.
As pole is over for the year now, it will be a little quiet on this front, although I will be attending some Summer Sessions at Pole Divas Caroline Springs and (hint, hint) watch this space, because something exciting is happening at Pole Divas Caroline Springs and Barbell Dancer is excited to give it a try!
This time last year I was a buzz with energy and excitement! My first ever Pole Divas SHOWCASE was coming and I was busy practising my heart out, feeling super pumped to hit the stage and show the world what I was made of.
But this year, every time I think about SHOWCASE I just want to throw up and go and hide in a corner.
Perhaps because I'm doing more dances this year, perhaps because I'm at a higher level than last year, perhaps because I'm also doing a lifting program, perhaps because it's hot and I'm not sleeping well, perhaps for a hundred f***ing reason, but all I feel about SHOWCASE 2018 is STRESS STRESS STRESS STRESS!
To cut a long story short, I'm not looking forward to it and I just want Sunday over and done with, so I don't have to think about it for another year.
I love my pole dancing, I really, really do, but the focus on SHOWCASE has stripped all the fun away from my courses this term. Freestyle (my favourite part of Intermediate) has been cancelled, learning new tricks postponed and the whole hour is dedicated to doing the SHOWCASE dance over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. For the first time since I started at Pole Divas Caroline Springs, I have actually considered giving up and leaving the studio, because I'm just hating this term so much.
And I've considered, several times, pulling out of SHOWCASE. Tired after endlessly repeating the Inter Spin dance last week I was lying down on the floor of the studio, catching my breath, thinking about going out to the foyer and just crossing my name off all the lists, packing my pole bag and taking a break from it all. My only bright spot in preparing for SHOWCASE 2018 has been my Showtime course, which is the only thing at the moment that I am really enjoying at pole, and my Solo, which I will be performing on the Wednesday after SHOWCASE. When it comes to pole at the moment, Wednesday is the only night I actually want to be at the studio, and Tuesdays and Saturdays are my 'pole is a chore - is SHOWCASE over yet' days.
And yet, despite all the stress, all the aches and pains, and the near constant tiredness that is making everything both in and out of the studio hard, I haven't quit.
To be perfectly honest with you, I'm not sure why I'm still trudging through, but I do know that, once Sunday is done and dusted, pole will become enjoyable again and I will be able to focus on what I want to learn and the tricks I need to master, rather than pre-choreographed dances that I'm not enjoying and tricks I don't like. Freestyle will come back and student choice will be a thing again when we dance at the end of class.
The second bright spot is that, after next week, PDCS closes for their summer break and that will mean I am doing less in the evenings during the week, so I will be able to get to bed a bit earlier and get more shut-eye. There are Summer Sessions - workshops, practice time and casual classes - but I've only booked in for one so far. It's not worth adding more stress on my head at the moment and I will wait until after SHOWCASE to have a good look at the Summer Sessions and see if there is anything I feel like doing before pole goes back in January. There's no point being at a high level physically in pole if my mental health suffers for it, and a break sounds pretty damn good at this point!
And I also know, despite everything else, that I will enjoy myself once I get out there and start dancing. Last year I did two dances - Beginner Static and Showtime - whereas this year I threw myself in head first and am doing FIVE dances: Intermediate Static, Intermediate Spin, Exotic Chair, Booty and Showtime. My dances are actually very well spaced out throughout the afternoon, so I will have time to change costumes and have a breather inbetween shows. And, as my Exotic Chair instructor said on Tuesday night, it doesn't matter if you get up there, forget all the dance, and just grind for two and a half minutes: the point is you got up there and did something!
So I WILL be doing SHOWCASE 2018, and I WILL throw my all into it. I'm not going to let myself or my pole sistas down by half-arsing it. Maybe I'll forget a step, maybe I'll trip over my PLEASERS, maybe I'll go roll the wrong way and have to do a quick little spin on my knees to get to the right side of the pole, or maybe I'll forget to booty pop to the correct counts, but I'll be there.
Because if I can do my best when I'm feeling at my worst, there's something to be said for that.
P.S. Pole is not the only stressful thing going on in my life at the moment. Right now I'm in a very stressful head space, with work, pole, lifting and personal issues all spinning around in my head. I'm looking forward to things slowing down after SHOWCASE so I can start to work on putting my head back together again. I will say that I'm lucky to have supportive friends and colleagues who are helping me through it and giving me the encouragement I need to see it through.
If you're afraid to fall it means you're prepared to brave the heights from which you might fly.
Me With No Apologies.