March 19th, 2010 marked the second annual U.S. Pole Dance Federation Championship in New York City. Competitive gymnast and pole dancer Alethea Austin of California took home the grand prize winning $5000, the opportunity to perform in Australia, a Pole Skivvies gift certificate, a gift bag, make-up and more. Mina, also from California, won the amateur division, earning her 'pro card' to compete in the pro division of future USPDF competitions. Both ladies were finalists in my Pole Superstar 2009 competition -- watch their videos here: Mina, Alethea. The top five USPDF winners will be sent to America's Got Talent for producer's consideration.
The USPDF, founded and run by Wendy Traskos and Anna Grundstrom, held preliminary competitions in the past year to determine their twelve pro division finalists. Amateur division finalists were selected by video submissions prior to the competition. Friday's competition required both amateur and pro division finalists to participate in a 60-90 second compulsory round where the women must perform various maneuvers including 20 seconds of continuous floor work, two spins, one upright static pose, one inversion, one inner thigh hold, one split, and more. The finalists wear shorts and sports bras for this round. For their final performance, the women can participate in an optional round with no requirements where they can get more creative with their performances. Some highlights of this round included a ballerina-turned-pole-dancer and a handcuffed pole routine.
The compulsory round is reminiscent of gymnastic floor routine competitions -- something you might see in the Olympics. So with all the recent hype surrounding various pole dance organizations' efforts to get pole dance approved as an Olympic sport, I asked Grundstrom if this was a goal for the USPDF. She said there are other ways for pole dance to gain world acceptance such as credible competitions. Looking into the future of USPDF, Grundstrom says the organization would like to continue to set standards and guidelines for competitions and push pole dance as a competitive sport and credible art form. They would like to expand the pro division and host several national competitions each year.
In conjunction with the USPDF's competitive events, they also host workshops and panel discussions. This weekend's workshops featured classes from Australia's top pole dancer Allegra, USPDF judge Brook Notary and current winner Alethea Austin.
Visit www.uspdf.com for more information on the organization.