Pole Theatre USA 2016 Recap
Pole Theatre USA kicked off on an unseasonably chilly summer night in downtown Boulder, Colorado on August 19th with competitors in the semi pro and later the pro (on the 20th) vying for titles in four unique divisions: Pole Art, Pole Drama, Pole Comedy and Pole Classique as well as for the overall champion title. Competitors came not only from Colorado but also from all over the United States and other countries including Canada, Singapore, Peru and France.
Pole Theatre was founded by pole star Aussie sisters Michelle Shimmy and Maddie Sparkle in Sydney, Australia and is now held in 15 countries. A worldwide competition, aptly named Pole Theatre World, which includes all of the individual country overall winners, is to be held this October in Prague. Each country has a different organizer and Pole Theatre USA is expertly managed by Nina Reed. Nina also organizes the Colorado Pole Championship and is the photographer behind Nina Reed Photography. She provided all the photos and videos for the event and this blog.
The tagline of Pole Theatre is to “tell your story” and the competitors on these action-packed, chilly nights absolutely delivered. While this is a pole competition, the rules are slightly different and tricks are only one element of the scoring criteria. Each division has it’s own unique requirements. For example the Pole Classique division requires competitors to remove at least one item of clothing and wear heels for at least part of their performance. Pole Art requires competitors to integrate another dance style into their performance whereas in Pole Drama you must tell a clear story. In Pole Comedy, as you can imagine, you must make people laugh. All competitors are judged on their costume and props, movement around the stage and audience engagement, in addition to their division specific rules.
Pole Theatre hopefuls applied in the winter with a video submission and a full stage concept including prop and costume notes and were notified of acceptance early spring. Most competitors took full advantage of the human prop allowance, telling detailed stories and many had costume changes or inanimate props that helped to move their stories forward. Divisions are purposefully small with four to six pole dancers, and each one provided a highly curated showcase to attendees and a tight competition environment among the extraordinarily talented and creative competitors.
Across the both nights were several unusual (or perhaps unanticipated) and consistent themes. There were two dinosaurs (one inflatable, one puppet), two nuns and a plethora of religious-themed pieces including three (two drama AND one comedy piece) that addressed abortion. Pole Comedy ranged from cute to crass and the Pole Art and Drama categories made everyone grab for their tissues especially Professional Pole Art winner and Overall Champion Quan Bui’s emotional tribute to his late mother. Pole Classique redefined sexy with some traditional references to stripping, the duet of Emily and Emma’s sassy (and sparkly!) Broadway “Chicago” piece and a dominatrix inspired piece by Kaitlyn Barclay that saw a very accommodating Seanmichael Rau complete with ball gag get whipped around the stage while tied to a desk chair.
The semi-pro competitors kicked off the first of two nights of competition lead by an inspiring performance by host and founder Michelle Shimmy to the late 90s spoken-word piece “Wear Sunscreen.”
The international panel of judges, Marlo Fisken, Maddie Sparkle, Amy Hazel, Steven Retchless and Marion Crampe had an extremely hard time picking the winners as the semi pro competitors looked pretty professional to me!
Meri Burgess, a local Colorado University Student and Semi Pro Pole Art winner, created a unique technology as part of her performance that allowed a computer with a camera and a projector to freestyle with her creating abstract visualizations. Sounds crazy? Watching it real time was extraordinary—my mouth was literally open for most of her performance. See it here and read more about the technology she used here.
The evening capped off with a guest performance by spreadie queen Maddie Sparkle featuring Steven Retchless who received what appeared to be a surprise lap dance.
Day two of the performances opened with guest performer and judge and Bad Kitty Brand Ambassador Amy Hazel who showcased her unicorn haired flexiness and stripped down to some sparkly pasties to the hit song “Lydia.”
The Professional divisions were filled with well known pole dancers covered in accolades from other competitions including (but not limited to – seriously, everyone is a decorated and amazing dancer) Carly Child who had just won PSO Nationals the week before, Irmingard Mayer who was last year’s PSO Artistic champion, Magnus Labbe whose won a whole bunch of stuff including the Pole Art division last year in France, Tara Meyer this year’s PCS champion, Rhyn one of our very own Bad Kitty writers and ME with my Monty Python sperm filled extravaganza !
Some of the most memorable performances included Kristen Gerding who SANG throughout her entire performance despite the altitude and her asthma, Gisella Scheuch from Peru who told the story of a woman having a mid life crisis in the most Cirque Du Soleil way possible and Elizabeth Carmine Black who was wearing a custom piece from Kelly Maglia coated the stage in a white substance and expertly rolled around in it (everything is legal now in Colorado! Just kidding, it was baking soda).
The evening capped off with a guest performance by Steven Retchless who proved why he won the Classique title last year in an ultra sexy routine.
If you are a poler with a more theatrical leaning, this is definitely the competition for you and if even if you are a new spectator—prepared to be continuously amazed! Watch their website for more information on the 2017 event!
Full Results Professional:
Pole Comedy: Phill
Pole Art: Carly Child
Pole Classique: Renee Wu
Pole Drama: Quan Bui
Overall Champion: Quan Bui
Full Results Semi-Pro:
Pole Art: Meri Burgess
Pole Classique: Emily & Emma
Pole Comedy: Amy Bond
Pole Drama: Jamie Wagner
Overall Champion: Jamie Wagner
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