I have never been a competitive person. I think, for me, that’s one of the biggest draws to the aerial community, because this community offers nothing but love and support. I’ve spent about three years in total practicing aerial and through the ups and downs I’ve always loved everything about this sport and community. Beyond not being competitive, I also have extreme performance anxiety and could list a multitude of additional reasons why I’ve shied away from competitions. Not once in these three years did I imagine I’d have any desire to sign up for an aerial competition.
I still remember the first pole performance I attended as a spectator, being in absolute awe of the performers and their routines but thinking ‘there’s no way I could ever do that!’ Of course, I did end up signing up to perform the following year. My first performance was a pre-choreographed routine with five other girls, so I didn’t feel overly nervous. That all changed last October (2018) when I performed for the second time. This was my routine, that I choreographed, and I was on that stage alone - all eyes on me. I was beyond nervous and haven’t shared this openly but after I walked off the stage, I ran to a private area, sat on the floor and hyperventilated for several minutes. At that point, I wasn’t even sure that performing was for me let alone facing the pressure of a competition!
Once the performance fog cleared, I realized I was incredibly proud of myself for what I had done. I loved that routine, I worked hard on it, I shared an art form that I am extremely proud to train in and represent. Since then, I’ve been taking baby steps towards focusing on the positives of performing. I actually love writing choreography, I love finding new ways in and out of moves, trying to make up different combinations and of course linking that all together through movement and feelings that all fall into place with a song and a theme.
Performing also brings about a whole new level of challenge that leads to amazing growth and while I don’t love the nerves that will forever come with it, I absolutely love a challenge and will never stop pushing myself. The fourth time that I performed was in a doubles routine with Lacy. While I still had butterflies the entire hour or so before actually going on stage, I actually loved every minute of the entire process. We had a blast creating this routine, training and even performing! Was it perfect? No. But the crowd seemed to love it and the sense of accomplishment and pride I still have is indescribable.
Now that I’ve baby-stepped my way into feeling a bit more comfortable in performing. I’ve decided that I’d like to begin to push myself to the next level. I’ve realized that competition doesn’t have to be about winning, being the best or even what anybody else thinks of my pole skills. Competition is for me, it’s a way to push myself to grow as an artist and performer and will be a rewarding experience no matter the outcome. So, I’ve committed to taking the next step in facing my fears. Since this is a baby step, I don’t plan to take the stage alone. I loved the routine Lacy and I put together so much that I’ve asked her to be my competition partner. We’ll be taking our “Castle” routine to the Minnesota pole competition this weekend!
If you have had thoughts of competing, or even if you haven’t but maybe are feeling inspired, I want to remind you – competing is something you do for yourself, not for anybody else and Fly Circus will support you in every way. Maybe you are like me and don’t want to perform on your own, you could also try a doubles routine. If you are worried that you might struggle to write a routine, I know a lot of great instructors that would be happy to help. You can also lean on your fellow pole sisters and brothers. And, with the creation of the competition team I know that we’ll all have each other for support. So, I hope to see you on the competition team because while Minnesota will be my first, I’m sure that it won’t be my last competition.