The Pole2Pole Cup Essex Heat 2011

I competed in the Essex heat of the Pole2Pole Cup on August 13th. There were 6 other heats around the UK with 12 girls already through to the finals in October, and the last three places up for grabs. The competition is designed for amateur dancers and has a ‘back to basics’ feel about it. Unlike other amateur competitions, the general rule is that your head can’t go lower than your butt! This puts more emphasis on floor work and spins, it’s a way to try and even out the playing field.

I’d chosen a track called ‘Roxanne’ from the film ‘Moulin Rouge’. It had a tango flare to it which I really liked. In keeping with the feel of the music and my theme, I wore a black leotard with a lace back, had my hair pulled back into a bun with red flowers in it, and used a red rose as a prop – just like you often see in a traditional tango performance.

I spent weeks working on my routine to ensure my floor work flowed nicely, and I had some good combinations of moves. I also had a rather dramatic entrance, which I hoped would have to audience on the edge of their seats.

In the week building up to the competition I was really excited. I think the performance at Taylors Retreat (see my fifth blog called Taylors Retreat) at the beginning of the month had given me the chance to handle my nerves about performing in front of a crowd. I knew that friends and family had brought tickets so I would have their support on the night.

On the day of the competition, I felt surprisingly calm despite waking up at 7.15am. I got up and did all the sensible things in the morning – had some breakfast, packed my bag and had a long soak in the bath. In the afternoon my best friend Sam came over to help me with my makeup. As a newly qualified makeup artist I knew she would be able to help me achieve the look I had in mind. I wanted to have really dark eyes but without it looking gothic. She used a glittery black eye shadow which was excellent. I was really pleased with how it looked. (Thanks Sam!)

I’d picked up Chloe who was also competing, and drove us to the venue which was Capones Nightclub. When we arrived I could feel the butterflies in my tummy. Doors opened at 8pm so we had plenty of time to walk through our routines and do a sound check. Backstage I finished doing my makeup, got changed into costume and after a warm up and stretch I was ready to go. We had to pick a card with a number on the reverse; this would decide the order in which everyone would perform. I picked number 3. I was pleased about my choice as it meant I could enjoy the majority of performances after mine and that I didn’t have too long to wait.

Our instructor, Sam, opened the show with a fantastic performance. I had a really good handle on my nerves and was feeling great as my turn arrived and I walked out on stage. It’s difficult to describe how it feels while actually performing. I don’t hear anything but the music. Towards the end of my routine, I had a spin which was dependant on how good my grip was. All I remember thinking was “I’ve got the grip so go for it!” And more important than that, I did a drop at the end of my routine which was the best I’d ever done it. By the time I came off stage I was absolutely buzzing!

I quickly got changed and went out to watch the rest of the girls perform. Everyone was really complimentary about my routine and I was happy they enjoyed it. Watching the other girls perform was excellent. It’s so good to see the performances we’ve been talking about for weeks, actually come to life.

After all the performances, there was a break while the judges took time to decide on the winner. To close the show, Sam, Lindsay, Hannah and I had been asked to do the Mary Poppins performance we had done the week before at Taylors Retreat. It was great fun and I enjoyed it as much as the previous weekend. The audience gave us a big cheer at the end and it was a fun light hearted way to finish the show.

All that was left to do now was for the judges to announce the winners. All the girls who had performed were asked back onto the stage. I was really excited to find out who had won. I’m not one of these people who think I’m going to win and I enter the competitions to have fun. I’m not going to lie, of course I’d love to place somewhere but it’s not the be all and end all. The judges were ready, it was time to find out…..*drum roll please*…..second place was tied between Sandra Allen and Louise Scott! Wahoo!!! Huge cheers from the audience! “And the winner is Chloe Garrard”!!! I screamed and cheered and Chloe looked in utter shock! Her face was an absolute picture! She couldn’t believe it!

We came off stage and I gave Chloe the biggest hug!!! It was fantastic news that not only had one of our Pole2Pole girls got joint second place, but that one of us had also won it!

All in all it was an excellent night. I really enjoyed myself and am made up for the girls who got through to the finals. I’ve already got my ticket to go and support them! Bring on the finals in October!!

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