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UPPDC competed in the South-West Pole Varsity securing First Place in Group Category

Written by: University of Plymouth Pole Dancing Club

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On Sunday 26th February, the University of Plymouth Pole Dancing Society (UPPDC) competed in the South-West Pole Varsity – securing First Place in Group Category! The competition was hosted at Bristol University, with a 15-hour day for the competitors and spectators. 

Our 6 competitors trained intensely for two months – sometimes up to 12 hours a week – to create their 3-minute routines. UPPDC competed in three categories: Beginner, Intermediate and Group. Also joining the team was instructor Esme Telford, who guest performed at the competition. 

Our beginner, Alicia Mayne performed a heart-warming flow to song ‘Breezeblocks’, by artist Alt-J. Alicia’s theme was a fallen angel, where she climbed and fell from the pole. Her routine was full of complicated tricks, which she executed perfectly, securing almost full marks! 

“Comp was a really insane experience for me. The competition team were my rocks. It was so amazing to get to face my fears like that whilst doing a sport I’ve come to really love - and seeing our group team win was one of the best feelings ever. The whole community outside of our team and society has so much love in it, it was wonderful.” -- Alicia Mayne, Beginner Soloist Category. 

Alicia got glowing and constructive feedback from the judges, including: “You are a stunning dancer! You portrayed your theme in such a beautiful way with really interesting tricks and transitions!” “Beautiful storytelling and costume, love the shapes and positions used to portray this” “You maintained energy and character throughout. Well done!” 

Next to perform was Elizabeth Harrison, our Intermediate Soloist and next year’s UPPDC President. Beth performed to ‘Scars To Your Beautiful’ by Alessia Cara, with a strong message of appreciating your natural beauty. Beth had some wonderful and flexible moves, showing off her split multiple times – in Ballerina, Extended Butterfly, and Broken Doll Split. 

“Competition was a wild ride. Making a routine in two months was stressful and hard work, however we always had laughs at practice. My pole ability and endurance got so much better, and I’ve seen such a big improvement in my dancing. I finished the day so proud of myself, and the whole of our Plymouth team.” -- Elizabeth Harrison, Intermediate Soloist Category. 

Beth got some lovely feedback, including:

“You made me feel all the feels! You had beautiful lines in your tricks, and you had really interesting transitions. Loved your ballerina!” “Great variety of tricks, spins, and dynamics”

“B****y lush bendy tricks! Well done for holding them and letting us all appreciate them!” 

Plymouth’s final performance was made up of Nicole Stockel, Freya Hunt, Gabbie Goodale and Eve Charnley. The group, with choreography made as a joint effort between themselves and Team Captain, Aleksandra Ochnik - won First Place. The group danced to ‘Once Upon A December’ from musical Anastasia, creating a routine that followed the song’s storyline in the movie. 

In their performance, the group uniquely used each other’s bodyweight to hold impressive shapes, having up to three people on a pole at one time. They mirrored each other, performing moves of different variations at the same time, without overwhelming the audience. 

Alongside their First Place Certificates, each member received a Genie Pole clothing voucher, a First Place SWPV Sash and an X-Pole tote bag. 

“I think the best part of competing is the rehearsal. It's you make close friends with people you barely know and get to watch them progress and get stronger day by day. We worked really hard in rehearsal but did not expect to win as the standard was so high, but when they called our name, I felt so proud of everyone who competed for Team Plymouth and my heart felt so full that day.” -- Nicole Stockel, UPPDC President, Group Category.

“Being part of the competition 100% helped me improve my pole ability!! I’ve gotten so much stronger and confident with the moves I can do! I would recommend it to anyone else who is just starting pole” Gabbie Goodale, Group Category “Comp helped me make friends and gain strength, also coming first was nice.” Freya Hunt, Group Category. "Comp definitely helped improve my pole ability but also just confidence in performing in general. It was an experience I haven't regretted and has encouraged me to continue to do the sport." -- Eve Charnley, Group Category. 

They also received glowing feedback from the judges.

“This was gorgeous! You told your story so perfectly and it was easy to tell where our attention should be at all times. You all complimented each other beautifully”. “I loved the costume theme and complementary moves / synchronisation!”

“Such a great day supporting the Plymouth girls at Southwest Pole Varsity everyone smashed it with a lot of first-time performances for people involved- crying for pure joy when the group placed first! So proud of everyone involved they all smashed it!!” Hannah McCabe, Spectator. “Watching comp was such a lovely experience and highlighted the beauty of pole and how it is such a supportive community compared to some other sports, there’s no real “competition” feel between the dancers (which you would know if you’ve ever heard the screams of support at a pole show). It was an incredible day watching stunning competitors. Every one of the UPPDC girls who performed and supported them has a beautiful soul and an immense amount of talent - it was a day of feeling proud with pure love for the lovely people I’m surrounded by and grateful to be involved with.” -- Yazmin Bissenden, Spectator.

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