Interview with Priya Sodha from the Inter University Pole Fitness Competition

Posted: Mar 13 2012

We're excited about the Inter University Pole Fitness Competition this weekend in Bristol and we talk to one of the event organisers Priya Sodha, vice president of the Bristol Uni Pole Society to find out more...

1.Tell us more about the Inter University championship. How and why did you start the event?
The first Inter-University Competition was organised and held by Cardiff university last year (2011) and was a great success. The Bristol team won overall and so it is our turn to host the event this year. The categories this year are beginner, intermediate, advanced and a group routine. We currently have 13 universities entering from all over the country and wanted to get as many university pole societies involved as possible.

We are very lucky to have 6 internationally acclaimed pole judges: Stacey Sneddon, Elena Gibson, Sam Remmer, Sarah Scott, Emily Smith and Karen Chaundy. Both Sam and Sarah have kindly agreed to perform on the day which we are all looking forward to very much!

The competition is very much focused on pole fitness particularly with the Olympics happening this year. Our aim is to remove the negative stereotypes associated with pole dancing and show that it can be artistic and fitness based. All profits from the competition are going to our chosen charity Bristol Rape Crisis ( to help support the phenomenally important work they do.

This year we are incredibly lucky to be sponsored and supported by many companies and individuals known throughout the pole community including: X-Pole, Mighty Grip, Pole Dance Community, Dry Hands, Spinny TBags and Pole Motion. Without their support this competition would not be the same and we are very grateful for their involvement.

2.What are your judging criteria? What will the judges be looking for from the competitors?
In the beginner, intermediate and advanced categories each competitor will be awarded from 1 to 5 for each of the following: fluidity of routine as a whole, difficulty of spins/tricks (within the allowed category moves), fluidity of spins/tricks, transitions, interpretation of music and performance/audience interaction.  

The top 5 scores from each category will be awarded points (5 for 1st place, 1 for 5th place) and these will be added to each University score sheet to determine the best overall University. The scores from each of the judges will be totalled and the average score will be used to rank the competitors.

In the group routine similar criteria apply but also include group theme. 

3.How has the standard improved since you first started the event?
As this is only the second year the competition is still in its early years. The standard last year was incredibly high and this year we have a greater number of universities entering so we are looking forward to seeing what everyone can do.  

4.How did you first get interested in pole dancing and what made you become an instructor/performer?
I first got interested in pole through a free taster session in fresher’s week at university. I went along, not sure what to expect, and absolutely loved it! At Spin City, where all the Bristol girls learn, all the instructors are professionally qualified and use their wealth of expertise to develop each student and encourage them to perform.

5.What are your 3 favourite pole moves and why?
1) For me my favourite has to be reverse grab as no matter how advanced you get there are always different combinations you can create
2) Extended butterfly because when I started I remember thinking I would never be able to do something like that
3) My current new favourite is brass monkey because I just learnt how to do it the other day.

6.What are the main fitness benefits of pole dancing and how has pole dancing improved your fitness, strength or body shape?
The great thing about pole is that you can get fit whilst having fun. I danced for years but never had the muscles I now have because of pole. Pole tones you whilst increasing your flexibility and strength and the great thing is we have classes including every type of body shape.

7.What’s your favourite move for strength training on the pole?
Good pole drills for strength include 5 cross ankle release sit ups straight into an aerial invert, 5 shoulder mount knee raises from standing and then from the floor - the last one is definitely a killer!

8.What pole performers do you admire or inspire you?
I love Oona Kivela- she always has phenomenal combinations and pushes the boundary when it comes to tricks - I could watch her all day. I also love our very own Bendy Kate from Spin City; Bendy got through to the semi-finals of this year’s TV show ‘Got to Dance’ and it is great to see a pole performer breaking the stereotype of what a pole dancer actually is. Bendy also has such originality and flair as a performer- you think she has done everything possible and then she surprises you again and comes up with something completely new.

9.What’s next for you in the coming year?
After the competition it gets near exam time and committee elections will take place so the new pole committee take over for the next academic year. We look forward to all the new talent coming through the society.

Last years winning team - Bristol University

Find out more here

Watch the video from 2011 event at Cardiff University

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