The Beauty of Stillness in Hoopdance

December 21, 2011 Caroleeena hoopdanceUncategorized

Sustained spinning is beautiful. It is a hoop-related art all its own. And art, heck, Life, is filled with duality. There is black and there is white, there is earth and there is sky, there is up and there is down. So what is the opposite of constant movement? Stillness. I want to encourage you to explore the realm of stillness in your hoopdance.

When I watch hoopers, especially new hoopers, I notice a lot of spinning in circles as they hoop. It’s like the hoop is leading and they are following.

It can be helpful to turn while learning new moves, it slows down the hoop’s rotation and gives the hooper more time to step out or do that lift or thrust their chest forward, but it can also become a crutch. If we never strive for stillness, we may not even realize that we are unable to do a certain move without turning. It also makes it harder to perform before an audience that is sitting in front of you instead of a group of people all around you. You are constantly turning your back on them. And when you do stop, it is often not consciously. You may stop wtih your back or side to the audience. Stopping with your back to the audience can be dramatic if you, say, look back over your shoulder and do a lift while doing a counter clockwise turn or something but it needs to be intentional. Otherwise you simply shut them out.

So I encourage you to plant your feet and run through your repetoire of moves. Do lifts, step-outs, step-ins, core hooping on every zone from legs to neck, duck-outs, everything you can think of while standing still. This is where you’ll discover how strong your hoop skills really are. It’s also where you’ll realize the areas where you need to train more.

Once you can stop and hoop in relative stillness, you can make eye contact with others, you can quiet and direct your pushes so that your body appears to almost not be moving, you can free yourself from chasing your hoop and take control of your hoopdance.

If you’re having trouble planting your feet and hooping in stillness, it is often because you’re chasing your hoop. How do you stop doing that? By concentrating on your breath. Breathe in, slow and deep and breath out, slow and long, always in the same rhythm. Set the tempo with your breath. The rest of your body will follow. Pay attention to your breath. Notice the places you stop breathing altogether. Breathe into those places. At the center of everything we do is our breath.

Another aspect of stillness in hoopdance is in hand hooping. Make a pose. I encourage you to hold your hoop in stillness to punctuate your dance. It might be held high and in vertically to the side like this:

(If I’d been more conscious, I’d have had my free hand doing something pretty also. This was still early in my hoop journey.) Or frozen in archer pose (as if your hoop is a bow and one hand is on the bow and the other on the string)

 

 

 

 

 

or in a yin/yang in front of you (not perfect. I should have stopped with my hips square to the front but you get the idea). Punctuate with stillness.

Once you start to punctuate with moments of stillness, you can begin to play with speed and tempo. Changing things up is what keeps things interesting. But you have to be in control, not your hoop. You have to set the tempo. From fast to slow to stop, you are leading. Practice your isolations going from very slow to very fast. Feel how you can adapt them to the rhythm of the music. Feel how you can stop at any point and either freeze or change directions.

Finally there is another aspect of stillness in hoopdance that I am loving exploring right now — contact hooping. I am enjoying stopping the hoop in a balanced upright position in my hand, arm, thigh, chest or back, even on my forehead! It’s all about balancing the hoop in various places on the body. When I can roll the hoop and make it stop on me where I want it to, without falling over or falling off, I am in complete control of the hoop. I can do long, slow rolls across the chest or back in any direction. I think it is the ultimate control in hooping and I’m really enjoying studying this place. It’s taking a long time but I am making progress.

I began to study these ideas (which I call contact hooping because they’re so similar to moves in contact juggling) after trying to figure out how rhythmic gymnasts balanced and spun their hoops on their chests or palms. DizzyHips is also good at balancing on various places on the body. You can balance anywhere but I encourage you to start with the hands, both the palm and the back of the hand. Once you start to have success there, move to other places. Contact Hooping is a fun area to explore and I encourage you to try it. It feels weird at first but I guarantee it will make you a better, more fluid, hoopdancer. Hopefully one day I’ll make a tutorial about it.

Good luck!

p.s. Here is a video demonstrating a Hooping in Stillness Practice:

dancehoop dancehoopdancehula hoopstillness

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