Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Australian Summer Pole Camp 2012

Last weekend was the 3rd annual Australian Summer Pole Camp held at Surfers Paradise in sunny Queensland. I went along with the girls from Pole Fever for the second time for my yearly weekend of getting battered and bruised while learning a whole pile of tricks all over again!

Surfer's Paradise!We landed on Thursday morning and had a full day of wandering around, street poling, lunch at Hard Rock Cafe, and dinner at Draculas. If you're ever in the Gold Coast I highly recommend a visit to Draculas, a cabaret extravaganza! I had no idea what to expect, but it was the most impressive show of endurance - the performance were on stage for 4 hours doing a huge variety of performances. My favourite was Zombina who performed on silks, lira, and a net apparatus that was just so creative.

Summer Pole Camp ran across Friday to Saturday. The classes on offer fell in the categories of pole, dance, circus, gymnastics, flex, and acro. This year there was a greater focus on pole and acrobatics rather than aerials which was a shame (because aerials are fun!) but I feel like I definitely got more out of the classes I chose this year.

Krystal and I chose all the same classes, which was a blessing really because some of the partner stretching and conditioning classes required getting a little bit too close for comfort! In fact my favourite quote of the weekend was during Severe Stretch with Katie; "your hand is on my asshole!". Not a good place to get severely stretched. We chose all our pole classes as  Intermediate/Advanced which was definitely the right level. The next level up was Competitive and from seeing the classes we would have definitely not been able to keep up!

Friday Classes:

  • Stacey - Basic Tumbling with Acrobatics
  • Anastasia -  Intermediate/Advanced Tricks Spins and Transitions
  • Flying Laura - Intermediate/Advanced Pole Combos and Fluidity
  • Enchanted -  Intermediate/Advanced Doubles Pole Tricks
  • Mat Daniels - Partner Exercises - Strength and Conditioning and PNF Stretching

Saturday Classes:
  • Evgeny -  Intermediate/Advanced Pole Tricks
  • Duncan - Beginners Hand Balancing
  • Enchanted - Advanced Pole Tricks and Combos
  • Katie - Severe Stretch
  • Fontaine -  Intermediate/Advanced Pure Tricks
This is going to be a long post! I'm going to try get down all the details of the classes so I can remember everything we learnt.

Stacey - Basic Tumbling with Acrobatics

Stacey - BridgeThis was one of my favourite workshops. Stacey trains and choreographs for the Australian gymnastics team, and also teaches 7 year olds gymnastics which explains her insane energy and contagious excitement for acrobatics! We were hanging on her every word, I wish everyone would speak to me like I was 7.

Stacey focused on exercises to help us get into perfect form handstands. The idea is to lay on your tummy, get your underarms on the floor, hands flexed to the ceiling and pushed forward, ribs off the floor, chin on the floor, feet off the floor, and squeeze your butt! You should be in a dish shape with no arch in your back.

We also learned some tumbling with straight legs and using a knee grab to a stand:

A proper form cartwheel can be broken down into a lunge, look, then push through:

Stacey conveniently summarised everything we learned, thanks Stacey!

Anastasia - Tricks Spins and Transitions

Anastasia, angelic as always, taught us a couple of lifts and holds focusing on twisted grip and neck resistance. The class size was really big for this workshop so unfortunately we didn't get much time with Anastasia and only learned two tricks, but it was still worthwhile and gave us something to practice.

Tuck Spin Lift
Spin backward with twisted grip, bring neck past the pole, pull knees up. One leg can come out straight.

Lower Down with Elbow Grip
From twisted grip Ayesha, one knee bends and comes forward and to the side while turning your hips towards the ground. Neck moves past the pole, top arm comes down to grip at the elbow. Legs come off straight to pike, then knees bent to lower down.  

Flying Laura - Pole Combos and Fluidity

Flying Laura asked that we didn't film her while she taught, so here's my mediocre attempts at the tricks.
Us with Flying Laura

Upright Side Split
From Angel, hands come below the top leg in baseball grip, top leg straightens, pull in with the inside hand and bring the bottom hand off.
Flying Laura - Upright Side Split (Jess)

Back pull up, brass monkey, climb, angel, superman, back pull up, outside leg hang, upright side split. Go.

Enchanted - Doubles Pole Tricks

I love these girls! Everything they do looks so easy but my god it's hard. Krystal and I did really well in this one, we were really happy with all our doubles moves!

Doubles Turn and Split
Enchanted - Doubles Split

Base is up the pole with elbow grip, partners grip hands at wrist. Flyer has one foot on the pole, then brings the other foot up to twist through the gap and split out.

Doubles Stag Fall
We didn't get this one, the turn into stag is really difficult!

Step 1: One climb together, then Flyer lifts up and lets Base grab on in a pole stand. Flyer then wraps legs around Base's hips
Enchanted - Partner Stag (Step 1)

Step 2: Flyer leans back, Base extends arm to let Flyer lean all the way back
Enchanted - Partner Stag (Step 2)

Step 3: Flyer unwraps legs and brings them up into a pike
Enchanted - Partner Stag (Step 3)

Step 4: One knee bends and comes through the back of the linked hands. Flyer lets go of hand, Base grabs Flyer's inner thigh
Enchanted - Partner Stag (Step 4)

Step 5: Base lets Flyer slip down into stag, catching Flyer's foot
Enchanted - Partner Stag (Step 4)

Doubles Back Straddle Down
Flyer climbs up, inverts, makes room for Base to climb up into pole stand. Flyer and Base are facing inwards toward each other. Flyer slides down until chest to chest, grab hands at wrists, Flyer crunches through and lowers legs down slowly.

Krystal as Base:

Jess as Base:

Mat Daniels - Strength, Conditioning, PNF Stretching

We got a lot out of this workshop, both for our fitness classes and stretching classes.

  • Partner running circles - running around in circles in a line around a partner
  • High five squat jumps
  • Rear support (partner 1) with tricep dips (partner 2)
  • Bench presses - Partner 1 on floor on back with knees bent and up, Partner 2 with back towards Partner 1 leans back on Partner 1's feet. Partner 1 bench presses
  • Straddle circles - partners on backs, up on elbows, facing each other. Legs off the ground doing circles around each others feet (both directions)
  • Squat kicks - One parter squats as the other roundhouse kicks over
  • Pistol situps - Partner 1 on the floor on their back, outside leg bent at the knee, inside leg straight grabbing Partner 2's hand with inside hand. Partner 2 assists Partner 1 to roll up to a stand and then lower back down by pulling up at the wrist.
I think these speak for themselves, assisted stretching is so much easier. 
Matt Daniels - Arm over
Matt Daniels - Reach forward
Matt Daniels - Knees down
Matt Daniels - Flexed Toe Reach
Matt Daniels - Shoulder stretch
Matt Daniels - Back Stretch
Matt Daniels - Shoulderblade Stretch
Matt Daniels - Arm Stretch
Matt Daniels - Back rollMatt Daniels - Bridge

Evgeny - Pole Tricks

Evgeny's style is all about strength and force. He taught us heaps of tricks and transitions and we got a lot more than we thought we would!

Tuck Spin with a Split
The hand grip for this one was cup grip at the top, and arm in front hand back at the bottom. It's a really secure grip that you can easily pull up into. From here you can also split the legs with bottom leg forward.

My version:

Head Tuck Spin
This one is a lot harder than it looks. You need a really fast spin so that you don't sink into the pole. Hang off top arm, bottom arm is elbow grip. Both feet in front of the pole crossed at the ankles, drop head down onto elbow grip arm.

Back Flip Up from Floor
Same shoulder on pole as knee bent up. The bent front leg comes over first, but lift up with the back leg first to get momentum.

This eventually leads to flip up and catch:

Momentum Steps
I got this one really good, so good in fact that I had more momentum that I knew what to do with! Once you're at top speed it's pretty much impossible to get your feet back on the pole, so switching from seat to seat (maybe add on some stags) is the only option I could manage.

Brass Monkey Drop
From brass monkey (Eugeny lifts into this), you need to release all three grip points (knee, underarm and hand) at once to get the drop to happen.

Duncan - Hand Balancing

Duncan is a hand balancing expert, and he makes it look so easy! We did a lot of preparation for getting into a perfectly balanced handstand in this class. There was a lot of wrist and shoulder stretching, and practice doing stuff slowly.

We got in lines and did sets of exercises moving up along the gym mats:
  • Bunny Hops - Hands down shoulder width apart, hop feet up off ground with knees together
  • Lunges - Hands up next to ears, coming down into a deep lunge. The aim for this one was to get your back as flat as possible from the tip of your hands to the line of your back leg
  • Lunges with Hands Down - Same as above, but placing hands on the floor as the back leg came up. This one was really slow and controlled, everything had to be straight
  • Lunges with Hands Down and Hop - Same as above, but hopping the back leg off the ground
Next we did some balancing exercises:
  • Headstand - pulling up into it slowly
  • In a squat position, elbows on knees, balancing forward until feet come off ground
  • Putting the two together - lifting from the balance into the headstand
Handstand exercises:
  • Facing towards a wall (so you're looking at it), walking feet up until only your toes and nose touch the wall. This one needed partner assistance to spot as they straightened up.
  • Handstands with a partner - Partner pulled the handstander up straight and gave them slight adjustment to get them into position
I had no idea my wrists were so inflexible!
Duncan - Wrist Stretch

Enchanted - Pole Tricks

These girls are so super strong! Every trick in this class was infinitely harder than they made it look. 

Outside Superman
From angel, bottom foot comes in front of the pole, both knees bent with one hand above top leg (similar to genie), bottom hand is out in front. You twist into it keeping your bottom knee bent pulling hard on the pole, the top leg (that twists through) straightens out. This one is really hard to keep grip with the bottom knee. 
Enchanted - Outisde Superman (Tiff)

Lift into Outside Superman
Painful! This is really just a prep to get the feeling for the one above, but your elbow is bent with this one.

Pike into Outside Superman
We didn't get this one. From forearm grip Ayesha, bum comes out, lowering legs straight down. You catch the inside leg at the thigh and bend the knee, straightening the outside leg.  

Toothbrush Drop into Superman
From angel, bottom leg comes to meet the top leg. Both legs straighten, bring the hand around to the back of the legs into toothbrush. From here, the other hand comes off, and at the same time your leg swings around to the bottom of the pole, around to the back to catch in superman.

Katie - Severe Stretch

I didn't get any photos or notes from this class. I think I may have subconsciously sabotaged any record taking so that I would never have to go through the pain again! This class involved a series of "severe" partner based stretches designed by Katie for dancers and gymnasts. Severe meant that if you weren't wincing in pain with your hands on your head, you weren't being pushed far enough! The stretching itself was agony, but I have to say that I felt a lot better after we had finished.

Each of the stretches had a series of steps. A couple of stretches I remember:
  • Assisted groin stretches:
    • In a yoga pose (feet together knees bent), your partner lays on top of your back pushing your knees down 
    • You straighten your legs, your partner pushes down with their weight on your lower back
    • You and your partner grab your feet, aiming to get your body flat along your legs
  • Over Split stretch:
    • You do the splits, your front foot in your partner's hand, they pull upwards
    • Partner comes behind and pushes you into the splits
  • Leg Over Head Stretch:
    • You lay on your back, one knee bent foot flat, other leg up with knee bent and leg across your chest
    • Partner pushes your ankle to your chest, one hand on the inner thigh pushing your butt to the ground
    • Same as above but knee to chest
    • Last part is stretching out that leg straight and bringing it over your head
  • ITB massage:
    • You lay flat on your back
    • Partner is to the side, one leg across your thighs to keep your legs down
    • Using their heel or toes, massaging the center of your outer thigh (the ITB muscle running all the way down the side of your leg)
  • Thigh and calf massage:
    • You lay flat on your back
    • Partner rolls their forearms across the top of your thighs working their way between your groin and knees
    • Bending that knee, partner massages your calf 

Fontaine - Pure Tricks

The last class of the day was with the wonderfully flexible Fontaine. She taught us a lot of stuff, much of which nobody could do, but marvellous we enjoyed watching none the less!

Genie No Hands
Fontain - Genie (Jess)
This one is from regular genie (angel, bottom leg in front, hands baseball grip). From here, keeping your top knee really bent tight on the pole, leg go and reach out, chest towards the ground. The bottom leg can either be straight or have a slight bend.

Allegra into Batwing
Not a chance! From alegra, bottom arm comes around and hooks at the elbow (you need good back flexibility to get a good grip). Top hand feeds through the hole made by your top leg and grips at the thigh, bottom hand comes off and also grips at the thigh.

Yogini into Wonderwoman
We'd done this one before, but not quite the way Fontaine gets into yogini.

The easier way into yogini from a climb:

Pole Stand Split
The trick with this one was to bend the top leg and to watch the hand grip. It's possible to let go with either hand, but only one way looks nice.

Knee Layback
From a climb, top knee bends on, grab the foot and lay out. Unhook the bottom foot and lay back.

Pole Dreams

Pole Dreams - Ice themed MakeupThe last day of Summer Pole Camp ends in Pole Dreams, an event where all the instructors as well as other performers show us what aerial sport is all about. This year the theme was Fire and Ice. Krystal and I chose to go as matching ice queens, and if I do say so myself, we looked awesome!

Pole Dreams - Ice Queen Dress BackWe were a little worried that our outfits didn't leave much to the imagination and we might be mistaken for space skanks instead of ice queens, but compared to some of the other costumes we were basically ice nuns!

Pole Dreams - Ice Queens

The performances were amazing as always, but quite difficult to film. I managed to capture a performance by Suzie Q and her partner (who's name I unfortunately didn't catch) on a cube. It was just so lovely and cute!

The End of SPC2012

Summer Pole Camp drew to a spectacular close on Saturday night. I left with a whole new set of tricks, stretches and exercises to keep me busy, along with a set of very impressive bruises!

Thank you Summer Pole Camp 2012! I can't wait until the Western Australian Pole Camp next year!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Perth Royal Show 2012

Ahh showtime, one of my favourite times of year! Dove This year we were lucky enough to go on the day that the utility dogs were being judged, and managed to see some awesome best-of-breed boxers, so cute!

The pigeon and poultry pavilion (my favourite animal pavilion) did not fail to impress with some very strange and wonderful breeds of birds. Some were very beautiful, like the little white doves that look like their tails are summer umbrellas: Umbrella

White others are just... confusing I think is the best word! And you'd think looking like you've been assembled all wrong would be enough for these pigeons, but it seems like they enjoy adding an extra level of creepy by constantly trying to dislocate their heads!

Speaking of creepy, what's with this cake? Enough said. Creepy Cake

One of the highlights for me this year was the Mouse Mania Circus, which was as awesome as the name suggests. It wasn't actually a circus, it was just a bunch of mice playing about on a set of really cool circus themed mouse playground pieces. The mice were having a blast, and so was the audience which I was happy to say was mostly made up of "adults" like myself giggling at the mousey mayhem. Mouse Circus Man

There were no new rides this year, and so we stuck to the classic Ranger, and also braved the ghost train which was really fun! I hadn't been on a ghost train since I was little (and I think I successfully repressed that memory) so I had no idea what to expect. I expected it to be dark, but I definitely didn't expect to be grabbed at by hairy hands! I think I screamed in the ears of a few ghost train "monsters" (probably poor underpaid teenagers) quite a few times.

We had a traditional show dinner of curly fries and sneaky wine while watching the fireworks through 3D glasses. Curly Fries (and sneaky wine) for dinner

This year they didn't hand any glasses out, but luckily I had mine from last year. I will be bringing these babies to all the fireworks I ever go to! I managed to get an awesome video through the glasses - it doesn't do it justice but you can kind of get the idea.