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!!!!

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