The Value of Sharing: Growing Flow Arts Together

June 3, 2015 Caroleeena Uncategorized

Katia

The influence of social media on the development of flow arts can be hard to quantify but I know for a fact that the more we share freely, the more we grow hooping itself. This story is an example of that.

Hoopers and hoopdancers are budding rhythmic gymnasts without coaches. Rhythmic gymnastics itself is a combination of object manipulation and dance. Unfortunately most hoopers have never had a chance to take a rhythmic gymnastics class. The vast majority of us live in places where such a class has never existed. Many of us have never even had a chance to take a dance class. And until recently, most hoopers didn’t have the option of taking a hoop class. Yet here we are…budding hoopers who have seen someone dance with a hoop and wanted to do it too…only to find that it is not as easy as it looks! So we scour the web searching for anyone with knowledge willing to share it and we teach ourselves. This happens again and again, every single day, all over the world!

This was my story. In the early 2000’s, I had a hoop but I never used it. Then one day I saw beautiful Spiral dance with a hoop at the Lake Eden Arts Festival and I thought, “That! I want to do that!” So I picked my hoop back up and quickly figured out what looked easy was not. I couldn’t figure it out! I also didn’t know anyone who did it. I was the only personĀ  who hooped in my whole town! I didn’t have anyone to show me or teach me. It was frustrating. So I went searching online.

I found a site called Hooping.org that shared photos and stories of hooping. I found them via another site called Tribe.net, a small online community made up of people who had gone to Burning Man and wanted to keep up with each other. Tribe was a series of interest-based message boards and it hosted a message board that served as the online community for Hooping.org. This board was full of people trying to describe moves, of people teaching each other over the internet. Sometimes these descriptions were three page-long attempts to describe a single move. I know! I wrote many of these pages-long instructions. As I was trying to figure out moves, I was sharing my process and as other people shared their process, it helped me with mine. It was time consuming but I was grateful for it. Then a little site called YouTube began to get popular, a site where we could make our own videos and upload them and share them with other people. And that site changed everything.

Suddenly we hoopers could see each other! We could show AND tell. I began to use my camera to show friends on Tribe moves I’d previously tried to describe and struggled with. At the time, I didn’t really understand that isolated hoopers all over the world were also watching them. The following anecdote was my eureka moment about that.

In February of 2010, I made this video:

 

Less than two months later I got an email from a hooper in Madrid, Spain named Ekaterina Bashakina. Katia, for short. YouTube has lost that email (along with their email feature) but the gist of it was, “I liked this move. I used it in this dance:”

 

I watched her amazing dance with my jaw on the floor. She was using that move in ways I’d never thought of! Not only that, she was integrating Bollywood dance into it! She was also using other moves that I’d never known existed. Moves like this move, which I went on to make a tutorial for once I figured it out about a year later:

 

hoop con antmTo say that Katia’s hoopdance influenced my hoopdance is an understatement. Bollywood is a huge part of my handwork now (though I can only hope to make it as beautiful as her one day) and many of these moves have gone on to become some of my favorite moves. I have added her embellishments and embellishments of my own and sent those back out into the world. I have taught these things to hundreds of hoopers, in person and on YouTube, since this experience and again and again they have returned to me in beautiful permutations, combinations and elaborations that I could never have dreamed of.

Now, imagine if we all shared freely and openly all that we know. Imagine how we could grow the things we love. Imagine how we could consciously evolve. Imagine how we could change the world.

 


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