Dear Judges…

I meant to write this post a while ago, but now with all the IPC drama and the fact, that I am about to fly to Osaka to judge Japanese nationals, I think it`s a good time.

By the way, this topic is very old in the world of sport. In any discipline, that doesn`t have objective winner – like in running, who came first – is the first! This topic causes a lot of conflicts and drama. So the only way to treat is to stay philosophical.

You all know from Bible – «Don`t judge, and you won`t be judges» (I may be not that accurate). But in pole dance it works exactly the opposite way. You are judged in competitions, after performances, by judges, by audiance, by your rivals. And then, when you reach the certain level, or understand that you are not the pole dance performer, but a pole dance activist, then you judge yourself. I have been judged, and I judged myself, so I can tell you what happens on both sides.

When you are competing:

  1. It is very important for me as competitor to understand, what I am supposed to do in order to get high scores. I am very universal performer – I can be strong, I can be bendy and I can dance. Just let me know, what you want. When I get straight messege, I deliever proper performance with a little hint of my personal style. But unfortunately, most competitions have no idea yet, what they are after. Art? What is art? Is it a dance? Is it a story? Is this a flawless performance of tricks? Sport? Do you want me to be super-bendy? Super-strong? Both? No dance? A little bit? So my suggestion is – at least make a table for the competitors (like for example, Mr Pole Dance had) with information like this: costume – max 5 points, choice of music – max 5 points, flexibility moves – max 5 points, strength moves – max 5 points, pointed toes – max 100 points. And this will allow a competitor to create a routine, that you, as judge, will be happy to evaluate. It will be quite an easy job then.
  2. Many people forget, that pole dancers are human. We feel pain (a lot), we feel jet legs, we need to eat, we need to earn money, we have ambitions. So, please, respect our efforts and time (and money!) we spend to get ready for the competition. We don`t come to show-off, we come with honest dream to win appreciation for what we do. If only the judges have seen the amount of tears there are backstage, from people you would never excpect! By the time you walk up there to congratulate the winners and share the feedback with the others, we are all smiling already, as we are athletes and try to put the bravest face on.
  3. There are a lot of times, when I disagree with judges. Most of times it doesn`t even concern me, I just watch my rivals or friends. But I always try to see a bigger picture. My wife dedicated 10 years to various talant-shows on TV, and she always says – there is one judge you can`t buy, the people. And that`s true, whatever it is about – 30 millions watching «got Talanet» or 3000 watching pole dance livestream.
  4. The best way out of the depression, that hits each and every one of us, when we are disappointed with the results, is to do a workshop. If you tried it, you know exactly, what I am talking about!
  5. If you a new comer, it will be easier for you (oh, believe me! I went from Alex Sh…what?! to «when he`ll do his flip?» in half a year). No pressure indeed. Oh, I miss this times!
  6. There is one advice I still remember, that i was given by Elizabeth Domzhet (the creator of Australian Pole Championship and judge of way too many competitions). When I was still shocked with wining APFC, she said – «you need to make judges forget, that they are judges. You need to make them your audiance.» I did it on intuition then. I try to do it every time.
  7. There is one more thing I always try to keep in mind. There is much worse situation, than not winning or placing. Wining by score and loosing in people`s opinion. That does hurt.

 When you are judging:

  1. You need to put aside all the feeling you have towards the competitor. The pole dance is too small, you will know personally at least few of the pole dancers on stage. But when you are judge, they are not your freinds or somebody, who stole your girlfreind, they are competitors. I always try to imagine, as if I see them for the first time in my life.
  2. It is very important to undersatnd all the tricks. Do you know, that script-writers, who create «Dr House» show for each and every episode consult the doctors? Why is it different in pole dance? Why judges have no idea, which flip is difficult and which one is easier? Which handstand demends tremendous balance and which one any girl can do on her first class? You don`t have to know it all, it`s impossible. But you have to make research. I ask pole dancers, who have differnet styles, body types and backgrounds about their training, routines, secrets. Judge needs to understand exactly, how body works, which move needs more effort, which one allows a little bit of «cheating».
  3. Considering all of the above, I don`t compare anybody to myself. Because for me personally – any handstand is just a piece of cake. I can walk on my hands from Paris to London, I am break dancer. The same with flips. Try to impress me here. There are only some I can`t do, though I haven`t seen anybody done them at all. Because I do flips since I was ten. Though, I still hate leg hooks. So if for me it`s the most difficult ones – should I score the girl, who changes her legs in basic invert (still can`t do that myself!) higher, than the one, who does a flip? The same with flexible stuff. Anastasia told me it took her around four minutes to get a rainbow from the first try. Because she has bendy back. She knows it`s not difficult. Should she then score all the rainbows low, just because it`s easy for her personally?
  4. Floorwork most of the time takes more effort, than pole work. I always pay extra attention to it. For judges, who are not related to dancing, i suggest a little experiment. Choose 5 of your favourite tricks, do them. Now round around the pole as fast as you can for a minute. Do the tricks again. See?
  5. The best competitor is the one, who makes you wake up. When I was judging Chech nationals, there were 70 girls competing in one day. One after another – Allegra-Jade-handspring. And then there were few, who with their energy, originality and smiles just woke the judges up. Guess, who went into the finals?
  6. Pole Dance is DANCE. Once again D_A_N_C_E. Which means, music is part of the performance. Whatever the competitor does, if he or she doesn`t hear the music,  the routine is killed. Being dance choreographer for TV shows and commercials, I worked with many different people. And I understand, that for a lot of them it`s just impossible to catch the rhythm. But you have to work on it as hard as you work on your tricks. You can hire choreographer, you can choose music, that doesn`t have strong accents, but for God`s sake, your music is not a pleasant background for your tricks, it`s major part of your performance!
  7. Competitors, feel free to express me your opion. We all are human here, and we might be wrong sometimes. After one of the competitions, one girl came up to me and said: «You were my favourite pole dancer before, but after your points I am disapointed in you.» «Well, you were not a winner for me on stage tonight, but you are now,» - I told her. Because I believe, that by competing and judging competition, we sign a silent agrrement. If I compete, I agree, that with your points I can loose. If I judge, I agree, that you can disagree with my opinion.

And to lighten up the mood after such serious topics, I want to share with you the cutest comments me and my fellow pole dancers recieved after competitions from judges (all caused lots of points off!):

  1. You didn`t point your toes, when you did the flip.
  2. Your smile was bitchy.
  3. Your song was really annoying.
  4. You have boobs, like stripper, it doesn`t look sporty.
  5. When you did the fonjis you were biting your lips, so it showed, how much effort it costed you.
Last modified onSaturday, 07 December 2013 05:39

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