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!!!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Collection Cosmetics: An Edgy, Trendy Kind of British Invasion

Affordable and quality makeup are gems that we all would like to find. We all love makeup and putting on those pretty colors. However, makeup shopping doesn't come in cheap. Makeup artists carry imported and luxury makeup, but that is expected due to their occupation. For ladies who would just look like a better version of themselves, they need to look up on more affordable alternatives.

Collection, a cosmetics brand in the UK is soon to set to invade Manila with its edginess and awesomeness. They have high quality makeup at a fraction of what we would pay for when we go to luxury department stores. Get this, pressed powder for Php 169, lipsticks  for Php 199, long-wearing (and yellow-toned! yay!) concealer for Php 299, and eyeshadow palettes for less than Php 600. It sure fits not only the fresh grad on her first job but also the high school student who needs nice makeup for her cheering squad competition or the college student who needs to look dolled up for school to hide Monday morning blues. This can also be for the working mom who needs to look good for work but has to set aside budget for her little ones.

Makeup artists can use these too! Start-up makeup artists can use their products for practice in class or at home or on photoshoots as they are building up their portfolio. Even those who have been doing makeup for quite some time will love this for the quality at a fraction of the price. I should know because I loved it too. Pro makeup artist and YouTube beauty guru Lisa Eldridge uses Collection eyeshadow palettes and concealers in some of her makeup tutorials. If you've watched some of her videos, it probably went then with its old name, Collection 2000. I'll let you have a closer look on some of the products here to show you. For those who have been following my Instagram account (bambikitty), I also swatched and showed some of their awesome products too as a teaser and preview.

So, are you ready for the British Invasion?

I got this lovely little suitcase makeup box containing these goodies that got me so giddy with delight. I will give you an insight on my favorites from the box, as well as some mentionables when I saw some products on counter. As of the present time, there's one counter at the Watsons in SM Aura but pretty soon, there will be more branches and counters.

Cover and Go Foundation DUO is a space-saver in a travelling girl's kit, or if you're a performer with a one-one bag policy.

The tube contains liquid foundation  (in 3 different shades for your skin tone) and on the cover...

There's concealer on the lid (how very Houdini-like!) to cover bags, redness, pimples, bruises, dark spots, etc. Flawless skin in a space-saving tube!

Colour match foundation (shown here in fair), adapts to the skin so you get foundation that looks like a better version of your skin. No more "Happy Foundation Day!" As a makeup artist said, "A good base should not look like makeup, but skin."

After makeup, be sure to set with Collection Lasting Perfection Ultimate Wear Powder that gives up to 16 hours of oil-control. Brides must have this in their retouch bags! And it's only Php169.

Blush gives instant color and radiance to the face and it can create subtle dimension so the face isn't flat like a plate.

This blush, Bashful, is like a subtle, peachy-pink blush. It can be reminiscent of blush after a workout, yoga session, or when you blush when you see your crush.

Shimmer shades have four shades which can be used individually or together. The shades here though, are kind of sheer and shimmery, so it's perfect for everyday or as a topper to cream blush.

Blushalicious contain sweet sugary pinks to go with a sweet pink lip for a pretty Barbie look.

Way to Glow at first can be thought as a contour but looking closer, I saw shimmery particles in the bronze area. It can be used sparingly to add warmth and slight dimension on the face or to enhance that bronzed look.  Aside from blush, they can also be individually used as eyeshadow. Personally, I found this more eyeshadow-friendly. Blushalicious works as blush and is good, or I haven't maximized pink shadow just yet.

Eyeshadows are quite youthful and pretty. They come in different eye palettes to suit each individual's needs. The Work The Color Trio eyeshadow in Very Berry has two colors for base and lid plus a cream which can be used to highlight or prime the lids for eyeshadow to stick more.

The Bedazzled glitter eye palette I think would cater more to the younger clientele with its color and sparkle, which are perfect for nights out of having fun.

For those who are more on the neutral side, the Smokey Eyes Palette may be most suitable for natural enhancement with shadows and neutrals to darker shades for dramatic supermodel eyes.

The extreme 24 Hour Felt Tip Liner Delivers precise cat-eye lining with the intensity of liquid liner without the shake. It functions just like a drawing felt-tip marker except you put it on your eyes. I like how easy this pen can be maneuvered so I can not only draw a line but also a kitty. :P

Collection's star products are their lipsticks, which are the easiest I think since lipsticks are usually the fastest-moving products in any makeup brand. From bold statement colors to sheer, conservative neutrals, Collection has a lot of lipstick shades to suit your mood and fancy.

Lasting Colour Lipsticks can take you from day to night with minimal touch-ups. They are also affordable at only Php199 and come in different shades, even the bright, popping ones that are almost like the limited edition luxury brand lipsticks.

Some lipsticks look really pigmented on tube but kinda disappoint you when you swatch them. These two lipsticks are just as pigmented on tube and on swatches.

Pretty pastel-ly Bubblegum can be used with clean eye makeup for a bridesmaid in a garden wedding or go rocker girl with full-on dark smoky eyes or 60s sex kitten with this.

The Queen of Hearts (right) is a strong, vivid red which isn't too drying and can be taken from meetings to nights out since it's such a powerful, bold red color.

If hot, bright pink is your best bet, then check out Pink Shock.

On a personal experiment of mine, I swatched Pink Shock and other luxury brand lipsticks of similar shades and this can be a dupe of the more expensive ones too, especially if you're just starting out with makeup still.

Fake a full lip without the sting with Volume Sensation Lipstick, plumps up that pout without the burning cold factor. There's just a very slight tingly minty cool sensation but that's it. The bright pink color makes it easy to locate this in your vanity bag as you dig through it for a touch-up.

Shown here is Satin Bow, a pretty, sheer peachy color that can be used on its own or with color. Other pretty mentionables are Tea Rose, Cherry Pop, Sugar Pink,  Forever Heather, and Plum Perfection. You can even mix the lipsticks to create a shade uniquely yours.

Another winner product is the Lasting Perfection Concealer, another favorite of YouTube Beauty Gurus. It comes in easily-blendable colors that result in a creaseless, seamless finish  without the reverse panda cakey effect (of course, you have to choose the right colors and blend it really well. It's also pretty affordable at Php299 only.

I love it that finally, there's affordable makeup that doesn't sacrifice quality. Since the colors are so youthful and trendy, a perfect target market could be college students experimenting on color or high school students who want to go DIY come their prom. Certain classic shades of lipsticks as well as blush and base makeup may be used by the yuppie or the woman-on-the-go.

I sure can't wait for the grand launch that will happen in a few days. :) In the meantime, feel free to check out their Facebook Page for more updates as well as ways on how to wear their makeup depending on your personal style. Also, check out their website and register at their mailing list to know if there are new store locations near your area.