Last night I went to see a Pole Dance Showcase at The Factory Theatre in the city. It was the third instalment of the Encore! Sydney Pole Show. And it was a lot of fun.
As in Burlesque, the rules of audience etiquette at a Pole Dance showcase are to a large extent turned upside-down.
- Loud applause
- Whistling / cat-calling
- Shouting / hollering
Photography is strongly discouraged, especially with flash. But everything gets recorded and will end up on the web anyway (see Examples below), so why bother taking second-rate pictures with a phone-cam?
This particular Showcase actively tries to seek out a range of performers and acts. Performers cover a range of experience (beginner to pro), styles (ballet to burlesque) and genders.
Performers range in experience from beginners with only a year of classes under their belt, up to professional performers with competition titles to their name. And you can tell how seriously they all take it by the tell-tale round bruises on limbs and torsos.
This showcase has a very nice range in styles covered. There was plenty of pure pole acrobatics covered throughout the night, but there were also performances using ballet, classical dance styles, highly stylised Japanese dance, and an almost traditional burlesque fan-dance.
Men do not feature often in Pole Dancing, out of 20 acts and 36 performers, only two were male, and only one actually used the poles. But that’s okay, because the audience is also about 80% female. (I think that balances things out, right?)
There were so many performers and some of the acts are bleeding together in my memory already. But my personal favourites in order were:
- Michelle Marquet – according to the announcement very new to pole with little official training, but it doesn’t show one bit. The energy of the routine and the casual flexibility showcased was just awe-inspiring.
- Maddy Filosa – definitely leaning more towards an explicit style. I don’t think I saw her smile slip for even a fraction of a second in either of her two performances. It could be she was having too much fun, but I think it probably comes from years of dance performance as well.
- Vertica Belles – a group act with a live singer, two dancers and four pole artists. A great mix of styles and very well-coordinated. Some very impressive acrobatics to finish the night.
It’s tough picking only 3, and it’s even tougher putting them into a ranking order. And I’m sure I picked completely wrong 😉 … Still, all the acts were good, but these were the ones that made the biggest impact for me.
If you are curious what a show like this might look like, have a look at the videos of the first or second shows online. Or check some of the links below to videos on the Encore feed from previous shows.
Effortlessly gliding and a twist in the middle, with Karry Summers:
Group painting a city scene, with Lisa Davison, Fontaine Bradbury, Gracie Buntine, Sally Hately and Kristy Sellars:
Lots of humour with Emma and Tammy:
Strength and flexibility with Kapi:
Strong dance influences with Rachel and Peony:
Slow and sensuous with Lola Grace:
I would say there is something for everyone in the mix.
After all the positives, I do feel I should also point to a few areas where improvements could be made though:
- The announcer; this is an important job, calling out the crew, the supporters of the show, and announcing the acts on stage… but it also is a part of the show itself. I feel that getting a stronger announcer for the show would strengthen the whole. Someone with more showmanship, and perhaps a classier dress sense. I’ve been to great Burlesque at Adelaide Fringe, and what really made it was the sharp suit, sharp tongue and sharp moustache of the announcer tying the acts together.
- Getting off stage; this should really be the easiest part of the performance, but many of the acts got stuck in a fold of the curtains that looked like an exit but wasn’t really. Now, a humble suggestion: where I was sitting I couldn’t see the surface of the stage… how about sticky-taping some bright tape in the shape of arrows on it pointing to the exits? I can entirely understand that after facing a crowd and bright lights, turning back to black curtains and trying to leave could be hard, so why not make it easier?
- Shouting and Hollering; although strongly encouraged, it is hard to get a cold crowd going. It might be worth having a chat with the representatives of the various pole schools in the audience before the night and appoint some cheer leaders. Once someone in the audience starts clapping or howling, the rest does tend to follow more easily, so having a dozen people throughout the crowd prepared beforehand to take the initiative may do a lot more good than the announcer repeatedly telling the audience it’s okay to be loud.
None of that detracts from a fun night out though. I’m looking forward to the next one, next year sometime.