12 November, 2013

The UK Pole Dancer Series - Emy Dawn

For this months UK Pole Dancer Series I had the pleasure of interviewing well known youtuber Emy Dawn. Not only does she share her wonderful training videos with the internet but she also attends and films a large number of UK competitions. Her videos are always the first to appear on youtube and also of the best quality. Emy lives in London and can be found training at Justine McLucas's studio Ecole De Pole.

Firstly to begin with, how did you originally get in to pole dancing and what attracted you to the sport?

I was bought a taster class as a joke Christmas present during my time at Bristol University. This class was held in the basement of a bar in central London during my Summer holiday, and we were shown how to do some basic spins (Vanessa/front hook etc); it was good fun but I didn't think anymore of it....until I went back to University after the Summer and saw a stall advertising a brand new society at Fresher's Fair; the Pole Dance for Fitness Society. I managed to persuade my housemate who had done the taster with me to sign up, and we began attending once a week. My first instructors were Cath Payne (now Ballantyne) and Kate Johnstone (now Edwards) at Spin City in Bristol.

I think I should point out that I've never been a sporty person (at all!) because I've always been just average at everything I've tried. I took to pole more than other activities I had tried in the past because:

a) I enjoyed the sense of achievement of getting that new trick.

b) It was a good all body workout (and boy could I feel that muscle ache the day after a pole session!).

c) I like doing "different" things that go against the grain. Pole fitness has the ‘shock factor’ I love; not necessarily because of its' sexy side, but mostly because the average Joe Bloggs doesn't have the foggiest idea the kind of crazy tricks that are possible on this piece of apparatus. 

You've become the go to YouTube channel for UK pole competition videos, what was the first competition you ever filmed at?

I went along to a Pole Divas competition back in 2010 to support my friend Bex Brady who was competing. I took my camera along to film her routine for her, but as I sat watching the rest of the competition, I was noticing all these impressive moves I hadn't seen before; my immediate thought was "Ah I want to re-watch that routine / cool trick".

However, when I looked on YouTube soon after the competition, there were very few (if any!) decent quality videos uploaded. I thought, "I can't be the only one who wants to re-watch these routines"… from then on I took my camera along to every pole event and filmed the routines I knew would be good. I've got a lot of pole friends on my Facebook friends list (way more than non-pole friends) and that’s a good way to check out people's progress pictures and videos. Generally, my rule of thumb is: "If I know the person performing or if I recognise their name from Facebook, I'll record their routine in case their friends and family weren't able to get a good quality video". 

It’s nice to have a decent video of your performance; those few minutes of your life that you've worked so hard towards, and you're not likely to do it again anytime soon!

What do you find so interesting about competitive pole and have you ever competed before or have any desire to compete in the future?

I love the way it encourages people to train extra hard and push their limits; the level of skill in competitions these days is just silly high (especially with the recent influx of gymnasts etc) and I love seeing what ridiculous new trick someone will come out with.

It gives me inspiration and something to work towards... once I get my heart set on a move, I won't stop trying until I get it!

People keep asking me why I don't compete; I entered UKAPP a few years ago with my doubles partner Bex (we did a double Lara Croft: Tomb Raider routine... which went a little bit viral on the web... then continued the gaming theme with a Mario and Luigi routine for the finals). The fun we had making up these routines was the highlight of the experience, but in general I found the whole thing to be really stressful, exhausting, terrifying. I’m a massive perfectionist and I put too much pressure on myself with things like that, so I’m not sure I would do it again.

My preference is for tricks and funny videos. Excuse the pun, but that is where my 'strengths' lie.

I believe permission was withdrawn to film at the WPSC this year, have you found it increasingly difficult to get permission to film at events as pole dancing becomes more popular? 

Hardly any events used to ban filming; it's a recent "trend" that I hope doesn’t catch on. Of course competitions have to make money, and the sale of some DVDs will help a little towards that, but I just think it's a shame that some competitions are becoming too commercialised and strict. The best pole events are those that have an open welcoming attitude, and are all for helping the pole community and letting it grow, rather than being solely business based and there to make money.

When a big pole competition/show/event happens, there is often a lot of hype online about the performers /winners etc, so it’s only natural that people are going to want to see the routines as soon as possible. That’s another reason why I’m not a big fan of banning personal filming and then selling a DVD which won’t come out for a few weeks… I’m just too impatient! 

It’s also why I always aim to get my videos up ASAP, so the good quality videos become the ones that people watch and share, as opposed to grainy portrait videos filmed on a phone with bad microphone sound, where you can’t really appreciate the routine. Being able to film routines and share such incredible tale
nt with a worldwide audience adds to a friendly, open atmosphere which I really hope doesn't completely cease to exist in the pole world.

You've told me you work with the UKPPC, tell us a little more about what that involves.

UKPPC is run by Kate Edwards and Varie Anderson, who both were instructors while I was at Spin City. I've kept in contact with them and often see them at pole events; I think they also picked up on the fact that I’m quite active in the pole community. Both are very busy ladies, so they needed someone to help out with their online presence. I’ve set them up with a Facebook page, a YouTube account (www.youtube.com/user/UKPPCOfficial which is where I will upload all the videos I film this year!), created a trailer, set up a competition, etc. Online PR is hard work, especially when you’re busy with a day job and pole classes etc! 

Which competition of the year do you particularly look forward to?

I look forward to both Miss Pole Dance UK and UKPPC (and I'm not just saying that because I'm helping them out this year) ; however UKPPC are allowing me to film so bonus points to them. The venue for MPD UK was a lot better this year (a proper theatre with tiered seating, lots of space on stage, backlighting, etc). I’ve looked at the list of finalists for UKPPC this year and going by what I know about each competitor, the standard is going to be absolutely insane this December, I can’t wait to be blown away!

And what is your favourite competitive performance ever? (include a video link if available).

Oh dear, that's a hard question - it depends on the context (and these aren't necessarily from competitors, but are from guest performances/shows):

 If I was showing pole to someone who had never ever seen it before and might have some preconceptions about it, I would show them Jenyne Butterfly's 2011 Pole Convention performance (yes THAT one that has been shared worldwide many, many times… for good reason!)

If I was showing someone the style of pole I prefer (I'm going to cheat and give you four videos, one of each of my favourite three polers of all time):

1) Estee Zakar - Miss Texas Pole Star Performance 2012

Every one of Estee’s performances epitomizes the style/level of pole I want to achieve - grace, ridiculous strength, but daredevil flips/drops/tricks at the same time… I love all her music choices too – a bit dubsteppy, always with a badass bassline.

2) Sarah Scott - Bad Kitty Fashion Exhibition, Pole Convention 2012

Sarah is not only super strong but so controlled and neat - she has a stage presence that is confident and but sexy, plus she makes everything look so effortless!  Again, the music in most of Sarah’s routines is awesome!

 3) Chelle Hafner - Miss Pole Dance Australia 2012

Chelle is strong beyond belief but her style is very acrobatic so there are a lot of scary flips/switches/etc in her routines which give me something to work towards; her routines normally have a fun character element to them, which I also like to do. And don't even get me started on her Fonjis... wow.

4) Carlie Hunter - Australian Capital Pole Championships.

I had the pleasure of meeting Carlie this year and she is amazing! Again, very strong and awesome tricks, but the thing I love most is her creativity and fun in her routines, beautifully demonstrated by the video above! I think she might have been one of very few people who has managed to persuade me to really stretch properly in an attempt to become flexible. (PS keep an eye out for her MPDA 2013 Carlos routine when the video comes online... it looks like it will be amazing!)

Finally, where do you stand in the debate between sexy pole and pole sports?

To be honest, I’m sick of the same argument time and time again on Facebook/TV debates etc. I think there is room for both styles; there isn’t really a line you can draw to define ‘sport’ and define ‘sexy’… it’s all subjective.

Clearly, pole is a physical activity and doesn’t have to be stereotype ‘sexy’, however there is nothing wrong with making it so, if that’s the style you like. I don’t think people should dictate to others what they can and can’t do (the Swansea Pole Society vs Student Union is a prime example of that… we don’t need further arguing within our community!); I think the problem stems from ‘non pole people’ not being able to separate pole sports from traditional ‘pole dance’. Just appreciate each performance for exactly what it is, whether it’s a little sexy or not.

There is a time and place for both styles and any combination of the two, but I say, live and let live. Being an industry dominated by women, there is bound to be some judgement and criticisms from people from either end of the sexy/sport spectrum, but I just try not to get involved. Just do what you enjoy and what works for you; if it annoys other people or makes them uncomfortable, then tough luck!

Thank you Emy for taking the time to answer my questions. It was an absolute joy to read! Keep an eye out for Emy and her camera at a competition near you!

If you'd like to take part in this series please comment below or email me at spinninglovestoryblog@gmail.com

- Bex