Svetlana Makoutina for Magnificent Miss 2014

One of my fellow pole fitness classmates Svetlana Makoutina is a finalist for a beauty pageant here in Melbourne named Magnificent Miss 2014. Svetlana is 29 years old, currently working as a National Retail Property Analyst for ANZ bank and volunteers as a finance board member for a not for profit organisation. She loves to stay active through photography, traveling and spending time with friends.

As a hobby she also does fitness modelling and body building. Svetlana volunteers a lot of her time to the Parkinson Disease community through networking, building awareness about the disease and providing community groups with access to education and training on how to continue living their lives with Parkinson disease.

She is very excited about being a part of Magnificent Miss as she has worked with children from abusive homes previously as well as children with psychological conditions and found it so rewarding and she would love to be able to contribute in a different way to raise awareness for children with Heart Disease as well through Magnificent Miss 2014.

Wishing Svetlana all the best – truly beauty, brains and for such a good cause.

More here: Magnificent Miss 2014 Facebook Page

Pole Divas Unleashed 2014 Amateur Pole Dancing Competition

It was a nostalgic evening for me through my years of pole dancing with the best pole dancing studio in Australia, Pole Divas. Tonight, we celebrated 10 years of Pole Divas at Unleashed 2014 in its inaugural amateur pole dancing competition and this year definitely saw the level being stepped up yet again!

This year’s competition wasn’t a live audition but via video submission. I have been involved in the last 5 years of Unleashed, three times competing and twice as audience. The one in 2012 where Jennyrose emerged as Elite winner was the year I watched the live auditions. This year I had no expectations at all from competitors (didn’t even see or hear about routines prior) so it was definitely a treat and I enjoyed the night.

Let’s have a short review of how the evening went. The show started on time at 7pm as guests were seated at Greyhound Hotel and the general admission tickets allowed for people to stand behind the seats and upstairs. The venue was huge enough to accommodate the lot and it was a very good view from everywhere especially at ground level, except for the occasional 6-footer dudes or girls with hair buns that would block the view onstage. Performances with floor work were not that visible for seated guests (see, this is why I enjoyed my night as a spectator instead of being onstage so I can improve my performance should I join next year).

As expected, the evening started with a fantastic performance from the pole dancing instructors, grouped according to their studios. As you know, the theme for the evening was “school-theme” for a 10-year reunion.

Congratulations to Pole Divas founder Kennetta Hutchens, great milestone, fearless leader!

THE LOVELY POLE DIVAS INSTRUCTORS


Prahran: Cheerleaders


Richmond: Goths / Misfits


Moonee Ponds: Geeks


Mornington: Football League

All I can say about their performances is this: smoking hot!

After the instructors’ routine, host of the evening Davina Currie commenced the evening by introducing all the sponsors which included Aerial Divas, Pole Fitness World, Pole Physics, Trademark Therapy, Rarrr Designs, X-Pole Australia, Beauty Bee and Spice-Up Australia. Davina then introduced the competitors and had a few changes of outfits according to levels, from the conservative pole shorts to the ultimate pole wear.

Just a little bit about Davina – she had spent the last decade in the fitness industry as an aerobics instructor and was managing a gym. I’m sure as nostalgic as she would be too earlier this evening, she opened up the Mornington studio in June 2006 after graduating from Pole Divas Prahran.

Beginner 

The level rises quite significantly each year, it’s almost a plus point if you’re able to do more advanced tricks from the level you compete in. Andrijana Perovic won her level with a highly energetic performance to a burlesque theme.

Intermediate 

Rachel Bryant took to the stage a great start until she started performing on spin mode and slipped off the pole in an upside down move and could not continue her performance. It was nerve-wrecking to watch, we cringed and could only try to imagine how painful it must have been to be in her position. She was okay and everyone cheered even louder for her. Hope she recovers soon and gets a proper checkup on her neck or back. Polies, like athletes recover fast from injuries! Last year, Rachel won the Beginner’s and Doubles category being the only one from last year to go home with two sashes. So, don’t worry about Rachel – she’s a fighter and she’ll be back again next year for sure. That’s the Pole Divas spirit and she’s a champ!

Natasha Kotova had a mesmerising performance, with such fluidity and great eye contact with the audience. Emma King had an impactful performance dancing to Metallica’s Enter Sandman and Jennifer Zimmermann took the sash home with a great performance with stunning pole tricks.

Advanced 

As the levels progressed throughout the night, I didn’t envy the judges as they would have had a hard time judging the competitors. This category saw eleven stunning competitors. Zoe Crawshaw had a booty-shaking performance to Beyonce. Sara Colquhoun had the best use for floor space, leaping gracefully across the stage, truly a dancer. Yuan Liu (Bubbles) in her signature lyrical style, displayed great emotions onstage, touching hearts. Nicola Baschuk had great lines. Yeasmin Veronica had very nice emotional Latino piece and a stunning classy glitter monokini.

Cruella De Vil was in the house too, with amazing change of coats in her routine like a musical pole performance without the singing by Barbara Henderson whom I thought would have stood a chance in winning Best Dressed too but the talented lady did make some other costumes for the other competitors. She won anyway because the Best Dressed winner went to Heidi Ha in her transformers outfit. Barbara also made costumes for doubles pair Nut and Noodles and Elite 2nd runner up Melinda Clark. What a talented lady!

Who else? There are more! Just a few to mention from memory.

Lauren Magner won this category dancing to Sia’s Chandelier. Lauren’s win reminded me of Simona Pop who won last year’s category in a similar manner and style; fantastic performance with extreme flexibility, lines and tricks that were pretty much Elite level. Oh, not forgetting her lovely Herve Leger grey pole outfit which I absolutely loved!

Doubles 

Nut (Hazel) and Noodles (“Mi” Goreng) had the best story and theme of the night, I reckon, totally unexpected with their white eyelashes and a mirror between two poles, it had a story of doubles seeing each other in the mirror and overpowering one another in a Black Swan theme with the white swan eventually killing the black swan. Loved it!

Rachel Bryant who slipped earlier in the Intermediate category had instructor Tania perform in her shoes; in a Ghostbuster-themed performance with her partner Sarah.

Doubles winners were Jacinta and Steph in their extremely synchronised cute burlesque performance.

Elite 

Alison Wong appeared onstage first in a very strong performance as we continue to see her in the professional competitive space like Victorian Pole Championships and Miss Pole Australia.

Michelle Lee’s outfit was simply amazing, very pixie/fairy-like which matched her petite physique yet strong and great lines.

When Jacalyn Williams appeared onstage dancing to AC/DC’s  Thunderstruck piece, I thought to myself, “This is very ‘Cleo the Hurricane’!” A few seconds later, I was left gaping with Jacalyn (Rockit)’s strong performance with her extreme kicks, leg extensions, head bangs, head rolls, crazy tricks, highly energetic and powerful right through to the end without looking like she was gasping for breath. Simply amazing! Well done!

Laura Lockhart took to stage too with a lovely performance in a theme where she was shot in the forehead and had blood oozing out of her.

Heidi Ha appeared onstage in a full mask in a robotic Transformer theme. Her theme was all about strength, power and intense look throughout. And for the very first time, I saw Heidi without her spectacles on. This theme suited Heidi very well. I’ve seen how Heidi come a long way and like other ladies, had worked very hard and she’s constantly inspired us. She thought she lacked dance moves, flexibility and tonight she proved herself wrong. The cute pocket rocket is also known my Kung Fu sister – because we always bow to each other before attempting a Kung Fu flag pole trick to motivate each other to enter into the brass monkey move). Heidi clinched two titles; Best Dressed and Elite 1st Runner Up and was the only competitor to obtain double sashes this year!

Kelly B took to stage in a red cape, in a red riding hood theme. The music started, and it was the wrong song. That didn’t dampen her spirits to restart her routine and ending it perfectly. It’s so lovely to see Kelly competing for the very first time seeing how she’s progressed so well over the years. A great dancer, she is!

Katie Lou has been a serial Unleashed competitor, we’ve joined the same categories over the years. Stunning lines, great strength and this year’s performance was really entertaining and fun as she danced to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. The song’s stuck in my head now at the time of writing this!

Melinda Clark who won the Beginner level of Aerial Unleashed a few years back had joined a few pole dancing competitions and did not get through some and with sheer dedication and perseverance. Tonight, she wowed the audience and judges taking home 2nd runner up as she danced to Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black. You see, pole dancing journey is about the experience to strive for perfection and having known all these amazing ladies is just simply spectacular.

Nostalgia

Nostalgic competition for me because I first joined Pole Divas in 2010 I joined my first pole dancing competition in Intermediate level when it was held at Room 680 on Glenferie Road. I didn’t win, but the following year I won it together with Jennyrose in a doubles performance to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Just growing up with the studio and with the instructors, making new friends who share the same passion for pole dancing together throughout the years. Last year, I won Best Dressed and participated in the Elite category. Will I join next year? Maybe! Why? Because I can then have a goal to work towards to and can have fun along the way.

The ladies tonight were simply inspiring!

Pole Divas Unleashed 2014

Congratulations to the organisers, participants and winners of #Unleashed2014. Now you’ll have to wait for the professionally-taken photos and official DVD coming out very soon!

Log on to www.facebook.com/PoleDivasAU for more news, information and pole inspiration!

ELITE
Winner: Jacalyn Williams
1st Runner Up: Heidi Ha
2nd Runner Up: Melinda Clark

DOUBLES
Winners: Jacinta & Steph

ADVANCED 
Winner: Lauren Magner

INTERMEDIATE 
Winner: Jennifer Zimmermann

BEGINNER

Winner: Andrijana Perovic

BEST DRESSED 
Winner: Heidi Ha
BEST Andrijana Perovic

NU Pilates

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I tried a group reformer pilates session for the very first time ever in my life at NU Pilates. I even surprised myself by attending the morning 9.30am session, a great way to start my day and week ahead. I can’t even remember the last time I worked out earlier than 11am! Pilates definitely bodes with my range of workout in aerial and pole fitness. I had no expectations of what pilates was; I knew it involved an equipment and definitely some kind of stretching. I thought it was an easy apparatus that would help you stretch and flex.

Pilates is a dynamic body conditioning routine that ignites your powerhouse, the muscular network that builds a strong foundation – legs, abs, hips and back. It calls upon spinal and pelvic alignment, learned breathing, control, balance and flow of movement. A pilates program allows for stepped levels of intensity as the body adapts to the strength, stretch and stamina required to accurately perform the exercises.

There are three levels of intensity according to resistance of the pilates reformer equipment’s stretch and other supporting equipments. I started with the beginner class.

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I was mildly surprised that like ballet, barre fitness and yoga; pilates involved a lot of strengthening, core work and coordination of your limbs. It is hard work and one can huff and puff at the end of the set if done properly. I was made aware of my alignment to have the pilates reformer help me achieve the desired stretch of my body’s full potential. This was helped by my instructor’s occasional prompts on my movements like a personal trainer would, thanks to Co-Owner and Director of NU Pilates, Paul Torcasio who instructed the five of us ladies (try having me ask the older ladies if they’d like to be included in my #selfie!). There were a total of seven pilates reformers which allows for individual attention.

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I found it a little tricky to find the location at first by foot as I was new to the area and my iPhone5 decided to shutdown at the time when I was frantically looking on my Google Map. It’s in the back lane of Dundas Place.

They are offering a free first trial session on their website currently at the time of the publication of this blog entry as they are NU! Group classes cost $35 per session and sessions purchased by bulk would be discounted. See more here.

NU Pilates

Upstairs at 115 Dundas Place, Albert Park, Victoria
(enter at rear, via Dundas Lane)

Tel: 03 9682 5085

www.nupilates.com.au

 

7-Eleven Pink Ribbon Cup Day 2014

The Pink Ribbon Cup has now cemented itself in Melbourne as one of the flagship events on the racing and social calendar during the Autumn season. This event, the 7-Eleven Pink Ribbon Cup Day 2014 celebrated 10 years of this day in support of breast cancer awareness and research - funding the work of Melbourne scientist Dr Delphine Merino, who explains below what she hopes her research will achieve for people with breast cancer.

Josiah and I were invited by YC & Scott to The Promenade Room of Caulfield Racecourse with a full lunch and we watched horse-racing from noon till evening. It was my first time ever to a horse-racing racing event in Melbourne and I’ve always been quite excited about the idea because it involves dressing up, which is the fun part of it.

I struggled to find anything pink in my outfit and realised that I’m not quite “girly-girl” when it comes to fashion. I seemed to have a lot of black dresses. I decided to wear my new Herve Leger dress. There was one bright pink ballet tutu that I had bought from Bloch recently hoping to give it to the next female baby I come across. One of those impulse buying decisions I made while shopping at the recent Melbourne Bloch once-in-a-decade warehouse sale. I decided to put a cute baby tutu in my hair! I bunched the waistband of the tutu together using a hairtie and put a black hairband through the hairtie and secured it into my hair with pins.

Josiah on the other hand wore a little bow tie from the same hairband I had on me. The diamante pink breast cancer awareness pin was from an Estee Lauder event I attended in Kuala Lumpur years ago. His suit was from Bespoked, from our wedding five years ago – wow has it been that long?

Josiah Ng & Kim Ong

We had no idea about horseracing at all but was very fortunate to have Scott explain to us. Josiah was attentive about the entire process because he likened the horses to himself during his keirin-racing stint in Japan.

Scott YC

The lovely couple Scott & YC.

At the Promenade restaurant, we had a friendly waiter attending to us the entire evening throughout the three-course meal.

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Above: Cured ocean trout with confit orange pickled fennel & watercress

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Above: Braised beef cheek with sauteed mushrooms, bacon & parsnip mash

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Above: Tiramisu

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Above: Pink Moscato to suit the pink event.

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Above: My view from the restaurant on level 2.

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I liked the fact that I attended the race when it’s not too busy to get an understanding on how it all works; like during Melbourne Cup 2013/2014 where apparently usually gets “smashed” (drunk) and you’ll have ladies in pretty dresses falling all over and going barefeet after standing in their high heels all afternoon during summer.

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I bet four times in small amounts during the race and won twice with “Pressing” and “Natuzzi” winning. I guess I had the beginner’s luck! I had no real basis for betting except that I judged based on the mood of the horse (how they wagged their tail) – not like I was a real expert on that anyway, the horses’ muscles, the jockey and how flexible they seemed to move during their practice run and from the analysis in the little guide book based on how often the horses race. For the most of it, I counted on my intuition and was right twice. Yay! Both wins made the afternoon so much more fun!

Josiah Ng & Kim Ong

Top to toe.

Him: Hat by Diesel, shirt by (unknown), tie from Kim’s hair band, suit by Bespoked, shoes by Cole Haan.
Her: Hair with donut bun, fascinator is a tutu from Bloch, lashes by Shu Uemura, dress by Herve Leger, vintage purse from dad Mr. Ong’s former manbag, vintage gold bangle by Emma Page, heels by Lewre.

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I was two tables away from this lady (above) but I found her extremely regal-looking and wanted to take a photo of her. I hope to look this classy when I’m older. She held her poise so well, absolutely stunning!

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Josiah Ng

Kim Ong

It was a great experience, loved it!

Breathe Life into Dance

Dance as an expression of life.

How our state of mind affects our movements when we dance or not 

Professional dancers have the ability to hide and mask their true emotions even if the role they play onstage isn’t how they feel in reality. Imagine this, a ballerina taking to stage The Sugar Plum Fairy when someone dear’s just passed away or even a recent breakup. This is much easier than a happy ballerina taking to stage the role of the Dying Swan.

In a freestyle pole dance, how do we dance to reflect our current state of mind. This is when music or song choice comes into play as well as personality and overall theme of dance.

Spirituality of dance 

Dance is the manifestation of existence, the universe. I remember in a contemporary class I attended in my earlier days, I was told to stand still but allow my body to sway, close my eyes and imagine myself looking at a single tree. Thinking nothing at all but looking at that tree with eyes shut, leaving out my daily thoughts and stress. Slowly but surely allowing my body to move, sway and if my thoughts permit me, move in accordance to how I felt at that time around the other 20 participants in the same room (minimal movements of course with eyes half open by that time).

Every movement made is prevalent of life form; when we jete, we do it like a horse’s graceful gallop and leap with every limb extended into a beautiful art movement; dance.

Ultimately, how we choose to display our spirituality and emotions into dance, is how we breathe life into dance. A good dancer is always in tune with what’s required onstage.

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Is it an angry, scary contemporary dance? Do it whole-heartedly. Although, I must say that my last year’s competition performance was seen as a cute pixie trying to look scary (according to Mia, one of my polies). I guess I have a long way off. See above photo.

Here’s a great example of emotions being set in dance piece. Here’s Miss Filly taking to stage a dance of her state of mind at the time of the Aerial All Stars 2014 competition. The emcee of the evening introduced her and talked about how she had recently broken up with her boyfriend and the dance was “for” him, but really for us the audience. Miss Filly placed 1st runner up in this unpredictable, stunning, emotional piece.

I’m angry at her ex-boyfriend now for whatever he did wrong, but the hot pole diva Miss Filly definitely deserves better!

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