Contraction and Expansion in Hoopdance

February 23, 2015 Caroleeena DancehoopdancehoopdanceHoopingPerformanceUncategorized

contract and expandContraction is the act of becoming smaller.
Expansion is the act of becoming larger.

We experience expansion and contraction with every breath. As we breathe in, the lungs fill, the chest expands. As we breathe out, the lungs empty, the chest contracts. From any joint in the body we can expand and contract, become bigger or become smaller. When we make a fist, our hand is contracting. When we wave, our hand is expanding. When we bend our knees, the body becomes shorter. Often we contract at the belly too making us even smaller. Yet when we straighten our knees we expand. If we straighten them so hard and so fast that our feet leave the floor, we expand more. If we throw open our arms when we jump, we expand even more!

Expansion and contraction make dances more interesting.

This jazz dance tutorial demonstrates contraction and expansion as it is used in jazz dance. Notice that the heart and lungs are at the center of these expansions and contractions. That’s because we tend to think of our heart and lungs as the center of our body:

If we extrapolate this idea of opening and closing to the whole body, Forward bends are a contraction of the whole front body, though we are actually expanding the back body and back bends are an expansion of the front body and a contraction of the back body.

The following is a Martha Graham exercise exploring contraction and expansion in modern dance:

Any part of us can expand and/or contract. For example, imagine you are reaching, reaching, reaching for something…then you grab it and pull it back to you. You have expanded, expanded, expanded and then contracted from the arm.

In hoopdance, we can utilize our hoop to expand and contract. A toss expands us and makes us bigger. An isolation contracts our hoop’s movement, pulling it in and limiting its space. Hooping on the core contracts the movement of the hoop to spinning around us, at our center (or nearby if it’s shoulders or legs).

Even the direction we spin our hoop while hand hooping makes us bigger or smaller. For example, hooping on the hand in an outside circle is expansive. If we let the hoop go, it goes out and away from us. Hooping in an inside circle is a form of contraction. If we let it go, it comes in toward the body. That’s why we use inside circles for most contact rolls. (Think back rolls and chest rolls.)

Circles GraphicThere are lots of ways to expand and contract in our hoopdances. We can jump and we can crumple to the floor. We can stand tall or we can go down to our knees. We can do isolations or we can do iso-pops. (In fact, an iso-pop is a perfect example of expansion followed by contraction.) We can hoop behind the back so that the hoop goes out-out-out or where we pull the hoop in-in-in. We can hold the hoop high above the head so we are expanded or at the waist so the arm is contracted.

tossTransitioning between expansion and contraction makes dances more dynamic. Expansion and contraction can be made even more interesting by adding energy. For example, if you were simulating a flower growing, you would apply a slow smooth energy to your expansion, perhaps slowly lifting a hoop high above your head. If you were simulating a rocket firing, you would apply a fast, powerful burst of energy. Energy is another lesson for another time but it’s a great thing to think about as you begin to explore expansion and contraction.

Moving quickly or powerfully between a contraction and an expansion creates a high contrast move. High contrast moves seem to explode because they move between two extremes — big to small, fast to slow, etc., especially if you add energy to the expansion and/or contraction. In this tutorial, Rich Porter teaches how to do an iso-pop, a move that expands and then contracts. This tutorial exemplifies expansion and contraction, adding energy, and high contrast moves:


High Contrast: A Pizza Toss into a Knee Drop, A Jump into a Squat, Push into a Pull, a Drop into a Toss. Go as far as you can one way, return to center, as far as you can beyond. You can also contrast with speed and with power.

contraction and expansion in dancecontraction and expansion in hoopdance

3 Responses to “Contraction and Expansion in Hoopdance”

  • […] All art is subjective but these are some of the things that speak to me in dances (and which I note specifically in many of my reviews): – storytelling. The song is a story. It has a beginning, middle and end. It has an arc. Dances tells this story through movement, expression, gestures, and technical aspects like speed, levels, and use of space? If there are lyrics, both individual words and larger ideas can be represented with movement or poses. – starting poses – ending poses – variation in movement – use of repetition and alternation and playing phrases – utilizing the free hand – embellishing moves – lines, circles, and S shapes – footwork – traveling, turns, and spins – handwork – fingerwork – armwork – level changes – speed changes – filling the space – energy – dynamic changes in levels, speed, planes direction, or energy – connecting with the viewer – beat punctuation – musicality – pauses and poses – directed gaze – a hook – working the camera – stage presence – connection with the story (living the emotion of it) – connection with the music (melody and rhythm – contraction and expansion […]

  • Denise says:

    Do you do kids birthday parties?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Powered by and