Monday, December 2, 2013

Throwback with Ellana Minerals and its new look

Do you remember the time when mineral makeup became the craze in the market? I remember that it was quite about the time I was still a makeup newbie. At first, they were being sold just by the sample gram sachets or tiny jars in Ebay or in Multiply resellers. Mineral makeup promises a natural, dewy glow while covering imperfections without that heavy feeling. It's also makeup that's talc-free. fragrance-free and hypoallergenic and pregnant women who need their makeup fix can use it. Mainstream brands even produced their own mineral makeup line in line with this trend.

Mineral makeup had its cult following in YouTube vloggers and several beauty bloggers both international and local ones. Since a big jar of imported mineral makeup can get too expensive for the startup makeup artist or college student, they were resold from imported brands and repacked in plastic ziplocs and sold in 1-gram sample sizes.

Ellana minerals is a local mineral makeup brand that became a cult hit among a lot of girls, makeup artist or not. It's affordable and it's got a lot of yellow-toned shades, named in such yummy-sounding names like almond latte, cafe breve, and french vanilla latte. The loose mineral foundations melt seamlessly to the skin making it seem like we really have naturally beautiful and smooth skin with no visible giant monster pores at all. Back then, Ellana can be found in Multiply, Ebay resellers, and SM Makati bazaar stalls. Back then, it still had this look. Remember now?

I still use this as a setting powder after makeup, especially to male models or grooms, who just need to look like they have naturally good skin instead of wearing makeup.

I was invited at the relaunch of Ellana minerals, which also introduced new packaging and their new showroom. The new packaging features artwork made by Manila's top lifestyle illustrator, Soleil Ignacio.

6g jar for Php 460, refills for Php 330

I did say that they have makeup shades that fit our Asian skintones right? Well morenas ought to be happy for they have a dark shade too that will not turn red, ashy, or gray as well. Love our own skin.

The number one complaint though with mineral makeup is that they can be quite messy to take with you for on-the-go touch ups, since they come in loose form. Thankfully, Ellana now has the Ultimate Pressed Foundation and blushes which come in compacts.

 For those who want to be shine-free throughout the day, keep your loose powder at your home vanity and take the pressed form with you in your purse. For those who just want to look fresh without much coverage, you can use the pressed form since it delivers medium to light coverage. And it's so pretty it looks nice in your purse, office drawer, or touch-up kit. All you need now are tools for proper makeup application.

Of course, quality makeup wouldn't be complete if not for brushes. I'm glad Ellana also has very affordable brushes so we won't break the bank for our makeup fix.

A personal preference of mine is the flat angled kabuki brush, which can get makeup in hard-to-reach areas for better coverage. Not bad for Php350. For pressed or loose, this is all you need.

There are also dual-head brushes for concealer, brows, lips, and eyeshadow.

The brush cleanser  (php 400) is another personal favorite of mine. I love the refreshing cucumber melon scent it has. Perfect for quick-cleaning in summertime gigs, or on super stressful gigs. Brush cleanser is important, especially if I'm doing more than one face, say in weddings, fashion shows, or makeup demos. It keeps colors true instead of being muddy. It also prevents the buildup of gel liner in my gel liner brush so my application is still precise.

Starting MUAS who can't afford expensive makeup primers can use Ellana Minerals makeup primer, which functions just as well as the expensive brand. It fills in pores and fine lines, helping us attain naturally flawless skin. It literally says goodbye to shine as it mattifies the skin. I can use this for everyday priming up, and save my expensive one for clients or special occasions.

It's got this silicon-like finish that leaves skin feeling velvety smooth like a newborn baby's bonbon.

For a bit of color, the lip and cheek gel can be used under mineral foundation for a glow-from within. I really stress on using the cheek gel under powder makeup because it glides on evenly and powder will set the gel quickly making it hard to move. (remember to wash hands right after application)

I'm glad that there's mineral makeup made locally for ladies who want that same poreless perfection without costing a lot of money. When I posted this on Instagram, one of my friends commented that she has been using this since they started. For those who want to order, Ellana minerals is sold online in their website. You can follow them as well in Facebook and Instagram. The Ramp Trinoma, EDSA Shangri-La, and Glorietta are also carrying Ellana products so you may check them out as well.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Golden Look for Max Factor Creme Puff Pressed Powder

Max Factor has been around for as long as I could remember. Back in the time when we were still kids and not allowed to play with makeup, we would often find ourselves sneaking to our mom's or grandma's dresser and probably seen familiar Max Factor compacts. It may have been applied to us on school presentations when our teachers would do our makeup or during flower girl days. Well I learned last Saturday when I saw the new Max Factor counter in Landmark Trinoma that this brand has actually been around for 60 years! Wow! It's practically been that long already and so well-established, generations and generations of women have been users of it.

Although the brand has been in around for quite a long time, it still continues to keep itself updated so it still has an appeal with the younger generation while keeping its classic allure that make the loyal users for decades keep sticking to it. A classic product, The Creme Puff Pressed Powder gets restaged and relaunched to fit the modern woman - packaging and all.

The Creme Puff was originally created for movie stars to hide spots and imperfections with that perfect coverage and still natural finish so it's like Hollywood skin is just gorgeous like that. Which therefore, makes it like the awesomest staple in the everyday life's makeup kit. This is the same product that has been around since 1953 but it is given a fabulous makeover in a golden case with that classic scent.

The Creme Puff (heehee I know, sounds like the dessert) is a pressed powder, which can be used over liquid foundation, tinted moisturizer, and CC or BB cream to set. It can also be toted for touch-ups during the day to matt out shine, because yes, we do shine up at the middle of the day. Since this is pressed instead of loose, there's less chance of messy purses from loose powder spills.

There are 7 shades available. I swatched the product and it doesn't quite interfere with makeup color, so I can recommend for a MUA to get a few of the medium shades to use for touch ups for both bride and groom. At Php 575, it costs almost half of the more expensive touch-up powders and performs quite as well.

Although this comes with a velvety powder puff, I like using a fluffy brush in applying this for professional use. I have the Creme Puff in Translucent, which is pretty much a safe color to start of with for makeup artists. It doesn't interfere with the makeup color so it's pretty much universal. It mattifies makeup without that Happy Foundation Day look, which can make makeup less obvious for males.

The scent though, is one thing that can be a con with this product. There are some clients who may not like the perfumed scent . According to users though, it only stays for a good 10 minutes until it fades off. It may work for others, it may not for some, especially if the wearer has sensitive skin. In that case, have your regular unscented plan B powders in hand if you are a makeup artist.

Performance-wise, overall I think it's great to have in my kit as a makeup artist and I would also use this in my travel bag when I go on trips and wouldn't want to look shiny come photo-taking. For my pro bag though, I must keep a spare unscented compact in case my client is sensitive. But for the price it has, maybe I'll get another lighter shade for highlight.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Vie and Vault Makeup For Ronnie and Alex

Another makeup challenge faced my way when I collaborated with two of my Pole Tiger friends when they competed for this year's Vie and Vault Asian Pole Championship. Last year, I was one of the finalists. I took backstage work this year doing two of my friend's makeup when they competed. Unlike beauty and bridal, this one is a bit more challenging. since it involved character makeup and conceptual makeup.

Alex and Ronnie are two of my Pole Tiger friends who do awesomely at pole. Alex gives out very soulful performances in our pole flow class solos (I got teary-eyed in his version of Hiram) and he's also super strong and flexible. Ronnie has awesome endurance, strength, and has no fear when it comes to all buwis-buhay tricks. I was excited for them and even on the eve of the competition, I was feeling all jittery and nervous as if I was one of the contestants.

For Alex, he would be dancing to the song Baliw by Kuh Ledesma. He wanted just clean makeup with emphasis on the eyes, enhancement with intensity. The peg was the look of the tomcats in Stellar 3. After usual clean guy makeup, I lined his eyes with kohl and extended them with gel liner and contoured his eyes for a tad of smokiness. 

Ronnie danced to a song he's been wanting to dance to : Magical Mr. Mistoffelees from the Broadway musical, Cats. His makeup would be more challenging since it would literally involve face-erasing techniques. I did my research in tutorials, watched the video like probably more than twenty times, and asked around MUA friends for makeup to withstand tricks, flips, and stage lights. Thanks to Oliver who lent me his Ben Nye Clown White palette and eyebrow-erasing techniques and Jinky who tipped me on Ben Nye color wheels, I was able to come up with his Mr. Mistoffelees look.

I did a bit of tweaking by adding a bit of blue to the eyes to match the hat, enhancing the jawline with more stripes (a suggestion by Oliver, which made the look more mischievous) and dusting glitter on the face for sparkle, since Mr. Mistoffelees is a magical kitty. Im glad it turned out almost like the one in Broadway (we had to do our own version to fit pole dance competitions) and Ronnie was practically unrecognizable the next day when he arrived at the Adam Tan workshop without his magical sparkly cat makeup. 

They did amazingly and I was super proud of them. For me they already all are winners. :) Added bonus for this day too, was when the winners were called out: Ronnie won best costume and styling as well as the champion title for the Amateur division!

I told them that my goal is that they would have to curse me when it comes to makeup removal or still have a bit of eyeliner up to the next day. My brushes also had white makeup on them even after three rounds of brush cleanser. Well, that's stage makeup.

A photo op with the two! Hugs from this kitty to you! Look, I even wore a tiger shirt to support! I believe that they both started pole just barely a year ago, I think, and they've grown so much stronger, with the grace to match. You both made me laugh and cry at the same time, but I still give you lots of hugs and love.  This was already pushing past 10 pm. Glad makeup stayed put with performances, cheering, and all that.  Happy to live the Vie and Vault experience once more, even if it was just lending a hand in makeup or cheering backstage. Would I be back onstage next year? Let's see. Congratulations to everyone - winners, competitors, and organizers. Loves and purrs to all!

Monday, September 30, 2013

New From Elizabeth Arden: Green Tea Honeysuckle

In the scent department, I have my own personal moods. When I was in high school, I had a fruity phase oftentimes using raspberry, cucumber, and juniper scents in my schoolbag kikay kit. Then, vanilla became my signature scent in college since it reminded me so much of comfort food like ice cream, marshmallows, apple pie a la mode, and pastries (and it was such a mood lifter as college was one of my darkest days). Sometimes, musk and spicier scents were my thing and I had a phase where I used men's cologne or baby cologne. Our preference in scents can depend on like the weather, our personal mood, the occasion, or even the crowd you're in, so if you ask me what my signature scent is, it would really depend on that day or my own mood. Sometimes, I don't wear any scent at all.

Anyway, I guess that in the years of me collecting scents, I did have my own favorites. A constant favorite of mine could be uplifting and light scents, which I use when I work or have anything that requires me getting up earlier than usual. Maybe it could be our weather being so hot and humid or my own body heat which, due to my now active lifestyle, tends to power up my scent of the day. Particularly, I have always liked the fresh, light, and elegant scent of Elizabeth Arden Green Tea. A college classmate of mine commented that the classic scent had that "amoy babaeng maganda" smell, like he would associate it with a pretty girl. I would always put the classic Green Tea scent in the "amoy malinis" scent since it smells so clean without being overpowering, especially in the day's commute. To suit the season and the wearer's personal tastes, Green Tea released variants such as Camelia, Lavander, and Cherry Blossom. If you look at counters now, there is a new addition to the Green Tea Family, which is Green Tea Honeysuckle.

I would just like to thank the lovelies of Elizabeth Arden for this gift, which I really got excited about. When I opened it at home, I got so excited that I tried it right away, even though that I was about to take a shower anyway. The scent still had the clean, refreshing scent Green Tea fragrances have but when you wear this a bit longer, that's when you see a difference from your other Green Tea fragrances.
Green Tea Honeysuckle starts out first as fruity-citrusy, due to the top notes of sparkling lemon, tangerine, boysenberry blossom, and green tea vapors. As you go about wearing this scent, it starts to mellow down to floral scents of wild Honeysuckle, ylang ylang (this scent I was able to target right away, since it reminded me of those green flowers dangling in sampaguita wreaths), jasmine, tunisian neroli, and green tea leaves. Some of my friends were reminded more of flowers and tea in a Chinese restaurant. The scent is more floral than fruity and sweet, but still youthful instead of lumo-lola floral. As the scent wears on, the base notes of soft musk, sweet summer peach, nectar accord, ambrette seed and white birch starts to come out. It gets to be woodier and spicier. That's why as compared to the original Green Tea or if you have the Lavander and Cherry Blossom kind, this one's more woodier and warmer as compared to the other three, which are lighter and fruitier. 

I think this Green Tea variant would appeal more to ladies in their late 20's and above, since this is more floral and woody  as compared to fruity-fresh and yummy sweet scents that younger audience would prefer. Yes, I did mention that it starts out fruity at first, but as time wears on, it fades to the middle and bottom notes, which are more floral and woody. It's light enough to be worn for work or a job interview, and won't overpower your workmates. I would wear this to work and pole too. It's got an alluring mystery to be worn in a date night and another thing I like about it is how it wears off by the end of the day and doesn't linger  even after you take a shower and go to bed or even the next day. Plus points too on being a youthful floral scent, too, as there can be some floral scents which can be ageing. Currently, my Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Honeysuckle stands with her sisters in my perfume stand, and I grab this on weekdays out or at work when I'm wearing a closely-tailored dress in a neutral color and a pair of nude pumps, like when I'm giving a makeup demo or doing a hotel wedding.

For those interested, The Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Honeysuckle EDT Sprays cost Php 2,950 for the 100 mL bottle and Php 2,250 for the 50 mL bottle. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bridal: Cheriza

Cheriza is one of my first pole friends when I first started out doing pole. She gives us tips and tricks in nailing our pole moves and we bond outside the pole studio in her house for pole-jamming, and of course, eating really yummy food. As she gets married to her longtime love, I couldn't be happier to take part in her special day, which she planned herself, and made sure everything was perfect.

As most brides, they want fresh looks usually on their big days. Cheriza had the same, but told me that she wanted neutral colors and peaches instead of rose and pink. I put an emphasis on her eyes because according to the groom, he loves her eyes.


I used moderately thick lashes to get that right subtle smokeyness without black liner during the ceremony

 Love the details of her Veluz RTW gown! She really looks like a princess that day!

Photos: Mark de Guzman
Hair: Lei Ponce
Venue: Edsa Shangri-La Hotel.

Bridal: Vevette

Vevette was referred to me by my pole teacher Myla. She's all sunshine personified from our trial up to her wedding day - all happy and smiles.

She personally wanted neutral makeup for herself with just a tad of emphasis on the eyes, while her entourage would have smokey eyes and red lips.

It's almost going to be a year since her wedding last year but this was one of my most memorable 2012 weddings with an awesome crew, awesome people, and having such a fun-filled happy day.

Venue: Manila Peninsula
Hair: Lorybelle Barretto

Thursday, August 29, 2013

ANNY: Expressing Yourself ANNY Way You Want

If you follow me in Instagram, you see that I've been bitten by the nail art bug pretty late. I told my polish story a few entries back as an "illegal" accessory in high school only wearing our blue or green polish on our school-shoes covered toes and our nails would be sporting colors only on weekends. For a girl who hardly wears accessories, I like that it was an instant pop of color to my un-braceleted or cuffed hands. I kinda let go wearing polish due to doing chores and all, and opted for just very basic cleaning and buffing on fingernails and only wearing polish on special occasions and events. My feet though, are forever with color, usually a vamp or coral hue.

I started getting into nail art a few months ago, seeing it as a funner and better option to a single color. I figured that a bit of color on my nails help most especially since my hands get photographed a lot in behind-the-scenes shots in gigs so, with a bit of practice, I began Googling and practicing my own DIY nail art. I developed my own personal style as well, choosing animal prints, glam rock, and quirky designs over girly pastels. Also, from a personal note, nail art lasts longer than my usual polish. I began collecting nail polish again and even discovered a whole lot more fun nail art things and techniques as I went along.

I was introduced to a new nail polish brand called Anny a few days ago (isn't the name just so cute and friendly too?) in a very intimate event just a backflip away from my house. I already saw Anny bottles being sold at the Nail Bar at the SM Store in SM Aura and I'm glad for this invite because I get to know the products up close.

Anny (pronounce it as "Annie", like the little redhead orphan from the Broadway musical)  is a German brand with its shades that take inspiration from the trendy cities of New York, Miami, and L.A. They have over 100 shades to suit everyone's personality.

There's just a lot of colors to choose from, depending on your outfit or mood.

 Aside from the usual color range, Anny has a series of constantly updated exclusives. I like too that aside from the usual pinks, nudes, and reds, there are also some unusual shades that are unique and hard-to-find. There are also some chrome-like effect polish (right now, I'm wearing The Answer Is Love, which when applied is a navy color but dries into an eggplant-like color with a bit of navy showing through, depending on the light and angle).

 I personally like edgy colors and styles so I was drawn to this very sexy vamp shade - Clubbing With Dracula, which is a deep wine red that would look great this season, when pastels are taking a back step for spicier colors.

 Those who work with very strict dress codes and implement strictly conservative nail shade rules may wear Paris In Love, a pretty light nude pink. It's also great for brides who prefer a pretty shell hue instead of French tips.

For a flirty, pretty color for parties, daytime tea, or any happy occasion, Pretty Woman is a girly and sweet shade for the sassy girly-girls out there.

These polishes cost about Php580 each and are easy to apply and quick-drying. When I tried the polishes, it took roughly about 15 minutes for the polish to set and a full 30 minutes for it to completely dry and give me the go-signal to dip my hand in my bag and fish out my keys.

Aside from the polishes, Anny also offers nail care lines that give our polished nails some TLC during our weekly manicures or on days when we rest from our nail art to give our nail beds a chance to breathe.

The Calcium Nail Attack (Php 580) are our solution to our brittle nails for extra-strength

The Overnight Repair (Php 680) is like night cream for our nails, which give the nails the nourishment they need while we sleep.

The 6-in-1 (Php 680) is awesomeness and value for money and a space-saver in our vanity because it's a ridge filler, strengthener, base coat, top coat, high gloss, and quick dry all in one. So instead of purchasing a lot of bottles, you only purchase one at the cost of one bottle.

Another mentionable awesomeness is the Polish Corrector - To Go (Php 580) which corrects and erases all our lampas for NOTD-worthy Instagram shots as if we had our nails professionally done. It's also easy to use. it's like a stain-removing pen for nails and they also have different tip size and shapes depending on our nails.

Anny is available at SM Aura, SM Moa, and SM Makati as well as the Make Up Factory store in Bonifacio High Street. They would be opening more branches soon so visit for more info. You may follow them in Facebook (ANNY Philippines), Twitter (ANNYPhilippines), and Instagram (ANNY Philippines) for more updates too.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

These Shoes Are Made For Dancing

It was meant to be when I purchased my birthday-gift-to-self a few weeks ago. My very first Pleaser heels.

I first heard of Pleaser from my pole teachers when I asked where they got their really pretty pole heels. They replied, they ordered online from Pleaser. I'm glad that now that the Polecats Manila studio has a pretty shelf that carries Pleaser shoes for sale. The shoes really look so pretty but alas, since I wear big sizes (around 9 or 10, depending on the style for heels), I couldn't own one yet. So for a time, I was feeling like Cinderella's stepsister as she tried on the glass slipper, except that instead of  transparent glass pumps of considerable height, they were patent heels and boots that were at least 5-6 inches in height.

Don't get me wrong though, Pleaser shoes are really made for dancing and despite their height, they are very stable and comfortable unlike other stilettos that can break after the third wear. This one can withstand climbs, inverts, spins, and a few pole transitions and handsprings and if taken good care of, can last us quite a long time in our pole career.

I admit that dancing in heels is a challenge. Yet since I'm a pole dancer, pain for me is nothing foreign. Besides, heels add a bit of oomph to your walk and repertoire and once you get the hang of it, it can give you the illusion of mile-long legs and upgrade your lines to yowza! Just look at the very sexy and flexy pole dance star, Felix Cane who is almost always seen wearing her sky-high heels in her performances.

image source
She does all her inverts and spins in those heels effortlessly like she was born to wear and perform in them.

When I make a big purchase, I almost always have this thing that if it's meant for me, it's just going to call to me. When size 9's finally became available in the studio, I found a pair of patent leather 6" heels calling to me. A few months later it went on sale at 30% off. I told myself that if it's still there on a very special occasion that called for me to buy something for myself, It's meant for me. My birthday came and it was there. For the summer program, attending pole dance in heels classes last summer, getting stronger, and performing in stellar, it was a post-stellar birthday treat to self that I know I'm going to use not only in my performances but in events. Oh, and this investment is another drive for me to prolong my life in pole too. If I get to master training in heels, I probably might be using heels in my next competition.

So you may ask, how are those shoes? For a girl who's always in flats, flip flops, flat boots, and her trusty lilac sneaks (the only sneakers I ever own) and only wear heels only 2 hours in a special occasion, I have to agree with my teachers that they are indeed very comfortable. They add this nice shape to the calves a swing to my walk, and it gives me more height than usual. Always remember to point toes even in heels.

If anyone asks me, I'm 6'1".

If you love heels and want height, stability, and comfort, get the sky-high heels made for dancing. Also, Pleaser shoes come in many different styles. Feel free to browse through the Pleaser USA site, check out their Facebook page (browse and see that you don't need to be a pole champion to own your Pleasers. Helen Mirren owns a pair too!), or visit the Polecats Manila studio to check out a perfect pair for you.

Polecats Manila Studio is located at Strata 100 Bldg, F. Ortigas Jr., Ortigas Center, Pasig

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Story Of My Jade

I guess when the split gods decided to shower their blessings in the world, I was tucked in pike position, legs closed and asleep in bed. There are just people who were born to split, and others needed a bit of effort to get in there. Baby ballet and baby gymnastics didn't help widen my hips and when some of my classmates were naturally in a wide 180-degree straddle, I was still struggling to reach forward with a flat back. Studying in a Catholic all-girls school didn't help though because when our bones, joints and ligaments were still pliable, the straddle had to be snapped back closed because ladies should always sit with crossed legs. As a result, over the years, my already tight and stiff joints stiffened up and as a result, flexibility went from 1 to 0.5.

How should I know that years later, I'd be taking up dance regularly and then later on would be doing things which would require a split? Of course, day 1 in pole dance didn't require a split, but eventually, we started working on our splits by home exercises and flexibility classes because later as we progress, there would be advanced tricks that would need a good split to make it prettier.

Such that I share with everyone the story of my Jade.

A jade is a pole trick that we start learning at Beginners 2 level in Polecats Manila - when you finally get your basic invert and outside leg hang and get stable with your pole sit and hip hold. At first, it will start first as a V shape (or L-shape to some of us) and eventually, progress to a very pretty and flat line like this, shown by pole champion Crystal Lai.

photo taken from Crystal Lai's Facebook page. In a perfect and splitty world, it should look like this
In a perfect world, it should look like an inverted split. The jade just doesn't entail an automatic split. You need to know how and where to grip and the points of contact to stay there. 

As for my jade story, having no split to start off with, here I'll show you my jade progress:

Erratum on the July 2011 photo. It's actually July 2012.

I remember last year, CD had a Jade campaign thing going on in class where her mixed class on Mondays would be working on flexibility, jades, and splits and working on flat jades come Christmas time. And yes, it's possible to finally get that flat because there are girls who don't have splits to begin with that eventually got their splits and their jades. So I knew there was hope because 1. I got a split already on my right side thanks to exercises 2. There are exercises to be done that can work and open the hips and finally 3. there are ways to make a flat jade even if you don't have a split to begin with. With a bit of patience, I was able to get to a quite picturesque jade come Christmas of 2012.

A flat jade was actually in my Christmas list, and I worked harder towards flatness, with 3 teachers hammering it too. It obviously didn't make it to my list of tricks come my first-ever pole competition.

It did make an improvement come summer of this year when I met Crystal herself and took her Pole Artistry workshops where she taught us tricks to make it prettier and more even and to make our numbers look badass and effortless.

 Here she is spotting me making sure I'm all pretty and even as I struggle to get my split right and my body not topple over.

Several flexibility classes and homework later, I revisited that trick that I've been working on for 2-1/2 years a while ago, compiling what I have learned from the now four instructors who have helped me hammer my jade to flatness:

1. point those toes and lock those knees (a must!)
2. push the hip with my left hand.
3. pull the front leg close to you
4. squeeze the butt like it's closed for business
5. squeeze your hoo-ha

and by miracle of all miracles, this is my latest Jade photo dated June 28, 2013:

From all the photos, it's a big improvement from the jades of my past, and I know that it will get better. It's so much flatter and more symmetrical. It just pinches a lot on my left thigh but when did pole dance ever not hurt?

I remember the very splitty Margaret of Polecats Manila say that we will all eventually get to our goal tricks as long as we keep working and trying to. With effort, I will work on it getting prettier and eventually get into an oversplit soon, and eventually work on my other side jade.

As I write this post, I'm currently having my left foot propped on a block for more oversplit madness, but that's another story.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Taking You Out Tonight With Stellar On Broadway

This blog post is actually a month overdue but I still think it was well worth writing and featuring, despite that summer has been long gone. Like my past two other summers, this one was rocking, due to Stellar Year 3. This summer was spent with some tanning and intense Frideath marathons in preparation for our annual show. Body pains and bruises, bring it on!

One of my favorite tricks - the knee hold for our Stellar Sign shoot. Photo by James Oliver

Last year's theme was rockstar, a theme close to my heart since I love rock music. This year's theme was another fun and exciting theme - Broadway. Each class would be dancing to showtunes from broadway musicals such as Cabaret, Legally Blonde, Grease, Sweet Charity, Dreamgirls, and Rent.

Our class was chosen to dance to one of my favorite songs - Out Tonight from the musical Rent. When I found out that that was our song, I started squealing with delight. Out Tonight is actually one of the songs I've actually considered performing for my pole competition. However, the song was too long for the competition requirements and it has already been performed onstage. Also, Mimi is one of my favorite characters in Rent and given the chance, I'd audition for Mimi if there was another stage performance for Rent. I fell in love with the character while watching Rent since there's so much fire and passion in her, and she really lived each day as if it were her last.

For our photoshoot, we had to channel sexy Mimi-meowness with leopard print, black leather, big hair, and curls. Of course since there were no pole moves involved in our shoot, it was perfectly okay to bring on the accessories and cat ears and leggings. Up to this very day, I still eye leopard print thingies at the mall.

During rehearsals, it was a mixture of excitement, pain, and kilig moments. We had our number choreographed by our teacher, Kayleen and she did this amazing routine that showcased all our strengths, lengths, and made us look really fabulous onstage. I loved that the dance was sexy but not like over-the-top sexy but safe enough for younger audience to watch.  Of course there was the inevitable pain of our bodies after rehearsals, perfecting tricks, and little accidents such as scraping our climbing legs. One funny accident I had was banging my head on the pole during a wild hairflip. I have resolved to watch out for a pole surprising me each time I rehearse from now on. That probably was my most painful injury up to this very day.

Despite doing this for 2-1/2 years, there are always new things to learn, such as doubles and transitions. Since we had our superunli program that summer, we took that opportunity to get stronger by attending our flexibility and conditioning lessons every Friday mornings as well as aerial classes to strengthen our upper bodies (for silks) and back-of-knees (hoops). We also took pole with heels classes to know and have the feel of dancing with shoes on while keeping our toes pointed. Pole Stars Workshops were there so we learn more tips and tricks from international pole celebrities. I will always remember what Crystal Lai taught us in her Pole Artistry workshop to make our splits look nicer, "to clinch our butt cheeks like it's closed for business, turn hip out and squeeze our hoo-ha."

Doing doubles is a new thing for me. I took one doubles class before, during Valentine's day. An important thing was stressed by CD, that in doubles, we don't think just of ourselves but also our partner, to make our number look pretty. For example, we have to make sure that in doing our doubles spins, we have to spin at the same speed and know where to land. If we don't control our awesomeness by spinning too fast, we may bump each other. In doing doubles tricks too, I can't slack and crash, because we may not be able to do the trick. I should also make sure to hold on to my partner or else she will fall.

Photo by Michael Gonzales

Photo from Ann Dajon

When I posted this photo in Instagram I was like, the only reason you should step on your friend is during the Double V, with the purpose of making her jade look really flat. Hence you look pretty in photos.The Double V (shown above) is a perfect example of why I can't crash or slack. If I just go, "I'm so tired from this trick. I think I'll just fall down," I might fall on my partner and injure her.

The day of the performance is giving out our best, it's time to put what we've worked hard for and perform to those who want to see us perform. We had all support from our co-classmates, who encouraged us to 1. Join stellar and 2. tell our weak points, strong points, and tiny mistakes so we get to be super sabay-sabay, even if it's just late or early 1/2 count. Our teachers were there to make sure our toes are pointed and make sure that we're never injured, even staying up late for our rehearsals up to 12 midnight and making our dances (love you Kayleen!) while making sure their own numbers and the numbers of their other classes are in check. Our teachers are indeed are superwomen in all so many aspects.

Photo from Ann Dajon

Aside from making our dance look pretty, we all have to look pretty too ourselves. Let's face it, if our dance looks badass with all the choreography and tricks but we looked like we just woke up and decided to just pole today, it won't be as bombastic as it should. So we all had to look pretty, but this time, not prom princess pretty but fierce catlike pretty - from costumes down to the last lock curled and teased. For our Mimi look, I suggested we use warm, bronzey colors since she's supposed to be bronzed and honey-colored. I practiced first the look on Kiara, which had warm smokey colors and glitter and exaggerated our eyes with Fascinating kohl pencil and full falsies. Our cheeks were warm peach contoured heavily for stage and I chose a warm orangey red for our lips -MAC Lady Danger.

Photo by Shane Bellare

For my costume, I bought a leopard print top at Embelish in Podium and cut it up to midriff length. My shorts were a gift from my designer friend, Lizanne Cua. To make our costume look not-so-bare, our classmate Ann made these tie-up laces herself. Ann has an amazing talent for putting costumes together and she sews them by hand. I swear, one day this lady will be making costumes during pole competitions.

photo by James Oliver
Aside from our Out Tonight number, I also joined the Striptease number where we danced to Be Italian from the musical, Nine. This dance, choreographed by the Polecats choreographer Mara Andres  used scarves instead of  sand and tambourines as the musical and film did.

(By sheer coincidence, I also worked backstage in the makeup department in the stage adaptations of Nine and Rent, but that's another story)

Photo by James Oliver
Whether as Saranghina or as Mimi (oh yes, I danced to two numbers that day. The photo above is from our Striptease number, where we danced to "Be Italian" from Nine), when our turn came to dance, I just went there and did my very best and put my game face on. I love dancing and I'm performing to a thousand people out there and performing for our teachers, classmates, and production team who made this show possible.

When I was out there, it was hard to explain but all stage fright just vanished when the lights went on and music started playing. The four minutes onstage was a lot of fun and giving my 150.7895423274788513218748%  Maybe because I've always wanted to be Mimi, but the chance never put itself. Maybe because the people who were physically present watching us there in SM Skydome were those who support what we love to do. It may be new Facebook and Instagram photos. Or maybe, it's because I'm doing something which makes me happy and healthy and brought in so much positive energy in my life. Like Mimi, I was living each moment and as Saranghina taught a young Guido, firing up life and loving with passion.

Ask any cheerleader or dancer I grew up with, I'm in no cheering team, varsity team, or dance troupe in my life EVER. No athleticism, no split, no backbend, but forced by circumstances and stereotype to be shoved into the safe never-to-be-injured and sprawl your legs to a split zone. I came to pole by accident late in my life. At one point, during the times when I struggled to doing my twisted jade or working my shoulder mount, I wished I traded my straight A's for a dance background or stronger core. Yet really, I wouldn't change my pole story. Each dancer has a unique story, and we're all in the same process of making it awesome with one goal - to be stellar and to shine. And in writing our story, we're all together in doing so.

Stellar Year 3 - Stellar on Broadway is an opportunity that I'm glad I took. To those who watched, even though the makeup has been removed, the X-stages folded away and the moments lived on through photos, videos, and social media feeds with a month to date, I thank all for braving the rain and traffic just to watch what we worked hard for that summer. To my very understanding clients and readers why this blog has been on hiatus or how it takes me quite a while to reply to your queries, thank you for your patience. To our teachers, classmates, polemates, and pole friends outside the school, thank you very much for pushing us to do our best, for believing, and sharing our journey with us. This kitty is truly happy.

Photo by James Oliver

See you all next year! #stellar We win!!!!