New Props; New Challenges

New Props; New Challenges December 22, 2014
Mini hoop portrait by Hannah Root.
Mini hoop portrait by Hannah Root.

I know I write a lot about belly dancing, but I also do hoopdance. Yes, that means dancing with a hula hoop, though we don’t really call tend to them that in the hoop community (since modern hoopdance has nothing to do with hula dancing).

Mostly I dance with a “normal” sized hoop, which is one that you can feasibly spin around your body and keep there using momentum and your body’s natural movements. Here’s a representative example of one of my hoopdances, in case you’ve not seen much hoopdance before.

Hooping is fun, and great exercise, and a welcome break from my oh-so-serious belly dance career. I find it very expressive, and challenging too. But since I can’t ever seem to sit still and focus on just one thing, I’ve decided to also start working with mini hoops. In the picture to the right, you can see me posing with one mini hoop, which is just a smaller hoop that would be tough to keep up on your body. Instead, we tend to use mini hoops more on our hands and maybe arms, spinning them and making shapes and patterns in the air.

I’ll readily confess that I’m pretty terrible with mini hoops. When I took my first ever minis/doubles workshop with local hoop guru Lynn Spencer-Nelson, I gave myself a bloody lip. Yep. It took me a few years to decide to pick up minis again, and I’ve definitely knocked myself in the head a few times while practicing.

The nice thing, though, is that hooping with minis is bringing me out of my comfort zone, in much the same way that yoga does. Maybe I’ll perform with them someday, and maybe not, but for now, it’s nice to have a new prop to play around with and just explore creative movement with.

The other thing I’ve been doing to challenge myself with hoopdance is attempting weekly challenges that one of my hoop mentors (Caroleeena) generates for the online hooping community. Each week we focus on a different aspect of the dance, such as using our hands more, or our hips, or, as in this video I just made, using traveling steps and footwork. It turns out that these weekly challenges are making me think about hoopdance in ways that I hadn’t before, and additionally, watching myself on film at least once a week – while it used to be a cringe-worthy pursuit – is helping me spot areas I can work on improving.

So between picking up mini hoops to play (a.k.a. flail) with, and between doing weekly challenges on incorporating different facets of dance into my hooping, I’m feeling pretty creatively stimulated right now. This has been great fun, and it also makes me wonder if I can apply these two ideas (1. try a new prop/technique/whatever that feels TOTALLY unattainable and 2. do weekly challenges) to writing, teaching, belly dancing, cooking, and other areas of my life. If nothing else, it’ll keep things fresh, right?

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