Pole fitness has evolved and is now considered the hottest emerging extreme sport in the UK and the world today, as well as being currently rumoured as an event for the Olympics. With this development in mind Pole2Pole Magazine launched a new type of amateur competition.

On Saturday 14th May 2011, (www.thepolefitnessacademy.co.uk) Pole2Pole Magazine hosted the third round of The Pole2Pole Cup amateur pole dancing competition at the Pole Fitness Academy, Ozone Leisure Centre, Grenoble Road in Oxford. This competition was designed specifically for women new to the sport and looking for a challenge.

Seven competitors lined up to perform their routines in front of a panel of judges: Sam Jenkins from Glide Fm/Jack FM, local DJ “Spex” and Miss Pole Dance New Zealand 2008 Amy Richardson-Impey.

The site for this competition was the amazing studio venue at the Ozone in Oxford, with its fabulous floor to ceiling windows giving outstanding views over the local countryside. On entering the studio the atmosphere was excited, friendly and expectant. It was a rare, open chance for partners and families to see what pole dancing and pole fitness is really all about.

Backstage and during the warm-up session, the contestants chatted happily, exchanging ideas and tips on pole technique, helping each other with make-up and hair and some serious lashes and extensions applied to finish off costumes which were mostly handmade by the contestants themselves.

The competitors “tableaus” showed amazing talent, ingenuity and enthusiasm. The sixty strong crowd of well wishers made up of friends and family, made sure of a great atmosphere.

The competition opened with Michael Jackson’s “the way you make me feel” by Chrissie Kent and we were then treated to interpretations by Natasha Medlin dressed as Uma Thurman in Kill Bill and Beverley Kote as a fringed Spanish dancer with the Gaiema Tango. Liz Segbeer  brought us Placebo’s Infra red while Lorna Ticknell showed great skill in use of props as a Miss Money Penny  style character, performing to Mercy.

Runner up, Louise Forshaw from the Pole Attack School (www.pole –attack.co.uk), demonstrated poise, strength and elegance dancing to “White Blank Page” by Mumford and Sons”. She twirled effortlessly and languidly round the pole, bringing real sensuality to her role whist wearing a diaphanous purple blouse and black shorts.

However, there was one clear winner – Joanne Cleeve. She brought us “Bourbon in your eyes” by Devil Doll. Trained by the Bicester branch of the Pole Fitness Academy and after only having just six months of lessons, she managed to cheekily mix the burlesque style of Dita Von Teese and the art of pole. She managed to use and control a diversity of props including a chair, gloves and removal of a bustle style skirt.

Joanne looked as though she had just left the Moulin Rouge in her red and black corset with matching hat, jauntily angled mini and long black gloves. She amazed us all with her beautifully controlled, dramatic descents; she involved the crowd throughout her double pole routine and left them applauding and shouting for more. She is truly a natural; we will enjoy seeing her develop her individual style as the competition goes on.
What struck me throughout the competition was the diversity of professional backgrounds from which the competitors came. Ranging from financial services and charity organisations to law enforcement and forensic science; the majority of contestants had only been introduced to pole in the last six months to a year.  This made their confidence and professionalism in their performances all the more amazing.

During the marking we were treated to a breathtaking display of dual strength by advanced Pole Fitness Academy dancers Bella and Caroline, who showed us synchronised pole movements, coupled with grace and elegance.

Winner of the Kent heat of the The Pole2Pole Cup 2011 Amateur Competition, Samantha Pickles, really impressed us with her passionate rendition of the tango that we asked her to perform at the interval of the show. She expertly and dramatically seduced her obedient tie-wearing pole “partner”.

We were also privileged to see Amy Richardson-Impey’s sleek, polished, circus inspired award winning routine. This New Zealand born international performing artist has been teaching, choreographing and performing on and offstage for well over a decade. While most prominently performing throughout New Zealand, she is internationally acclaimed and most well known for her work in the pole dance industry, impressing audiences worldwide. She is well-versed in essentially all disciplines of dance and has most recently been teaching this art at Taylors Pole Retreat. She is planning to return to the UK in October 2011 for her new series of workshops. We were truly lucky to attract a judge with such an international reputation.

It was a fantastic afternoon which showcased the best of new local talent organised the Pole Fitness Academy and their senior instructor, Lucy Cropper. Lucy is no stranger to competition herself and has inspired countless ladies to take up pole fitness as a sport.  She gave a fabulous closing speech and thanked all those involved in organising the day, including Mel Evans (main compare), Roxy Young (filming), all those from the Pole Fitness Academy, the judges and Pole2Pole Magazine owner Mr John Meredith for creating this fantastic opportunity for the dancers.

The winner, Joanne Cleeve and runner-up, Louise Forshaw, go through to The Pole2Pole Grand Final being held on Friday 28th October 2011 at The Civic Hall, Blackshots Lane, Grays in Essex. See the Pole2Pole Magazine website: www.brettdev_pole2pole.com, for more details. The winner of The Pole2Pole Cup 2011 competition will receive as a grand prize, a one night stay in a local hotel in Essex and entry into The British Isles Pole Dance Champion 2011 competition the following day, which is aimed at the amateur, professional and champion pole dancers from around the British Isles. We hope to see you all there!


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