Overcoming Plateaus and Releasing Inhibition in your Dance

November 27, 2011 Caroleeena hoopdanceHoopingPoiUncategorized

Plateaus happen to everyone. They happen in terms of excitement, motivational energy and that joyful high feeling that you get when you dance. Be comforted in knowing that they happen to everyone, in every hobby, throughout life. Then pick up your hoop and get back to hooping. Plateaus are good for us. They mean we are no longer comfortable in our comfort zone. It’s time to try something new. Plateaus are the place where we prepare for our next ascent.

Gains are most spectacular in the beginning stages of any new endeavor. While a plateau can feel like a barrier between one level of expertise and the next, it is not. I am reminded of the story of the stone cutter who strikes his stone one time, two times, ten times, fifty times, ninety times … and nothing happens. Yet, on the hundredth strike, the stone breaks in two. The stonecutter knows that it was not that one strike that did it but the accumulation of every single strike that came before.

Every time you dance with your hoop, you become a better dancer. It may not feel like it but that’s often because you are using the wrong levels of measurement. Did you dance? Did you have fun? Did you increase your heartbeat? Did you practice a move repeatedly? Did you put in some “flight time”? Did you work on your “nuance”? These are good measures to go by. You can’t learn a new movement every time. What you can do, though, is deepen the expression in a movement you already know. For example, lots of folks can do lifts. Not everyone can do a slow lift, or stop at any point in a lift and freeze or reverse, or do something pretty with the hand that is not lifting. Play with these concepts.

Dance has nothing to do with tricks and everything to do with movement — level changes (high on the toes to down on the knees), tempo changes (fast to slow to stopped), lines of the arms and legs, fingers and toes, movements of the arms and hands through the air and the feet across the floor. There are infinite combinations of these. I recommend getting inspiration from dance videos. So You Think You Can Dance is a great source of inspiration for me. You can rent it now from Blockbuster and lots of those videos are on YouTube also. Take a dance class. Ballet, hip hop, modern, lyrical, bellydance, flamenco, Indian classical dance, African dance, even gymnastics or poi dance. Renew, refresh and revitalize your body with massage, yoga and tai chi. Hit the gym. Hooping involves strength as well as flexibility and dexterity. Take steps to increase your strength and endurance. All things are connected. All dance has movements that carry over into other areas of dance. To overcome burnout, you must take on new challenges.

Other things that can help include finding a mentor or a teacher. This may be in real life, over the net or on a dvd that you rent or buy and use in your home. New information can be a breath of fresh air, as can new perspectives. Hooping with other people is very helpful. Start a hoop jam, make a hoop friend or consider teaching your friends. Having someone else to hoop with provides endless inspiration. Ask someone else for coaching or feedback, even if they don’t hoop. Choose someone who is honest and encouraging. Feedback and encouragement go a long way. You don’t have to go it alone. Reach out.

Take advantage of your own evaluative feedback. Videotape yourself. Only, instead of picking out movements you don’t like, pick out only the ones you do. Cut those pieces out and make a video of all your favorite moves. Study them together. What do they have in common? What works? How can you integrate those ideas into other areas of your dance? Now that you’ve buoyed your spirits a bit, go back and look at the parts of your dance that you don’t like. What doesn’t work about them? How could they be improved? What could you do to make these moves look better? Pay attention to your posture, your hands and arms, your facial expression, the direction of your gaze. Make notes and make changes. I have learned as much from what didn’t work in my dance as what did.

Consider going to a hooping retreat. A lot of them exist now. I highly recommend the Hoop Convergence, which we host here in NC. Last year we had 21 teachers teaching 42 different workshops. I am still pumped from that experience and it was last April! Immerse yourself in the excitement, creativity, sharing and learning.

Cultivate non-comparison. A lot of us watch videos. These can be helpful if we use them to pick up new ideas and inspiration. They can be detrimental if we compare ourselves to other hoopers. So observe and learn without judging or criticism. Observe and learn.

But cultivating non-comparison goes a step further also. It is also about not comparing yourself to who you have been in the past or where you would like to be in the future. Be Here Now. Be okay with where you are now. Your entire future is built on the things you do now. Your entire past has led up to now. Therefore there is only Now. So observe Now and use it to learn. Set aside judging. Set aside criticizing. Observe and learn.

If you are feeling inhibited, do something about that. Do something to break that mold. Dance naked in front of a mirror. Really see yourself. Practice observing without judging and learning without criticism. Then get out of your house and out of your comfort zone. Hoop and dance in front of other people. Wear a crazy costume. Do something you would never do. Every time you expand your boundaries, they stay forever expanded. No one can do that but you though. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You can gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Finally, if you are feeling bored, mix it up. Dance to music you don’t normally dance to. Dance in unusual places. Or wearing unusual clothes. Or with new people. Mix it up. Diversity is the spice of life.

Hooping, like all things, is a journey. Be gentle with yourself. Try new experiences and value the discipline of repetition. The journey of a thousand miles may begin with a single step but there are a whole lot of steps in between. Enjoy them. In the end, the journey is more valuable than the destination anyway.

overcoming. plateau. release inhibition

3 Responses to “Overcoming Plateaus and Releasing Inhibition in your Dance”

  • Wonderful words of wisdom Caroleena. I’m reminded of your story about tree roots growing in the winter. 🙂 Loved that one too.

  • Robs says:

    Beautifully written, it was almost soothing to a day that was filled with discouragement in many areas of my life, including hooping. I will observe and learn then!

  • This is such a perfect time for me to have read your blog. I have been feeling like I need to push myself in a new way. I hope to make it to some big hoop events next summer but till then I’ll be hooping naked in front of a giant mirror! I hope to someday meet you and thank you for all your inspiration.

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