Thursday, 27 September 2012

Spring dance.

I wanted to do something special to mark the spring equinox, which this year fell on 23rd September. Of course, my first thought was to do something hoop-related. It was a glorious day, just a few fluffy clouds in a dazzling blue sky and no wind.
So I took my newest and most favourite polypro hoop [a pale pink one - appropriate for spring], and headed down to the beach for a bit of hoop loving by the waves. I found myself a flat patch of sand beneath the sand dunes and began to dance.
For what was I believe the first time ever I felt like the graceful hoop dancer I've longed to be these past seven months. [And, let's be honest, I've had a secret hankering to be a graceful dancer my entire life.] I guess you'd say I found my flow. Every move was smooth and effortless, even the ones I've been struggling with recently. I actually felt beautiful.
I hooped without stopping for about 20 minutes, every movement a prayer of gratitude to God. I was thankful for the sea, the warm sunshine, my hoop, my good health, my loved ones, my upcoming marriage. And I was grateful for the unfolding spring. I love this time of the year, with the promise of summer and warm days to come.

My meditation was broken by the sound of coughing - a light, apologetic cough - behind me. I turned to see a woman standing there. "I'm so sorry to disturb you, but I just had to talk to you. Are you involved with the hoopdancing class at CES next term?"

I laughed and told her I was the teacher.

"Oh good. I thought you must have been." She told me how she'd heard about the hoopdancing class and had been trying to decide whether to take it or not. She really wanted to, but her friend thought it was stupid.

"But now that I've seen you hooping I've decided I will take your class. I'm going home right now to fill out the enrolment form."

We talked for about 10 minutes, and she told me how she loved to hoop as a child but hadn't done it since. "Seeing you do it - well, it just reminded me of myself as a child, and how happy it made me. I want to feel like that again."

When she had gone - "see you in class!" she said gleefully as she left - I continued my dance for a little longer, overflowing with gratitude and happiness.

Life is good ... but hooping makes it great.

Happy hooping,
Anne-Marie x

Sunday, 16 September 2012


Late night hooping. Photo by Claire French.

I haven't done a lot of hooping since I returned from Under The Spinfluence. I learned a lot of new stuff which I want to keep practising ... but while the spirit may be willing, the body is flat out exhausted and needs a wee break.

I began hooping within 10 minutes of arriving at Spinfluence [after a three-hour drive] and for the rest of the weekend I stopped only for meals, for the evening concerts, to read for a bit [when the weather was bad] and to snatch a few hours' sleep. Most people at the festival were hippies or circus freaks - I'm neither, but I did find some other dedicated [obsessive] hoopers that I connected with. Together we probably hooped for a minimum of around 10 hours each day we were there.

I had intended to take workshops in poi, fire fans, acrobalancing, yoga, and so on. But once I got there all I wanted to do was hoop. I took two amazing hooping workshops - one was a tricks lab with the dynamic Frenchy, the other was a breaks workshop with the stunningly talented Natasha. Natasha's workshop was responsible for the horrible bruise you can see here. In fact, everyone who took Natasha's workshop got variations of that bruise ... so I've dubbed it the Natasha bruise.

It was a truly nourishing weekend and perfect in every way, despite the stormy weather! I needed a break from my routine at home. I needed the time and space to dedicate to hooping. I got all of these, and while I've come home tired in body I'm feeling refreshed in soul.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Hooping war wounds.

How's this for an impressive bruise? I got this bruise, plus a few other nice ones, from too much hooping at Under the Spinfluence. This is what happens when you learn arm breaks, then practise them non-stop for about three hours. True story.

Any way, I've just returned from Spinfluence ... happy, sleep-deprived, bruised and physically weary. [And a little freaked out from driving home during a very scary storm.]

More later when I've had some time to recover.

Happy hooping,
Anne-Marie x

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

More hooping excitement.

Yet another exciting hooping event is happening this week. On Friday I'm heading south to Wainuiomata, near Wellington, for Under The Spinfluence. Just like with my first hooping class, I feel giddy with anticipation and also a wee bit nervous about Under The Spinfluence.
I feel giddy at the thought of being surrounded by other hoopers for two whole days. Two days to dedicate myself to hooping and other fun circus arts such as poi, fire fans, acrobalancing and even a bit of yoga. But the nervousness comes when I realise all those people are complete strangers - and I will be living in close quarters with them for those two days. The camp where all this is happening is in the middle of nowhere, with not even a cellphone signal
But I'm going and I'm stoked about going. I hope to come back full of inspiration! I'm keeping an open mind on what will go down at the workshops ... but I do want to pick up some teaching tips and of course a slew of fancy new hoop moves.
I am naturally a cautious person but when it comes to hooping I seem to have the ability to push through my caution and my fears, and do what needs to be done. I've taught a class and I've been hooping at the Saturday morning market and even though the prospect of both has scared me, I've done them anyway. It's the same with this hooping festival. Feel the fear and do it anyway, and all that.

See you when I get back.

Monday, 3 September 2012

First class.

Tonight I taught my first formal hoopdance class.

I've taught dozens of people to hoop in an informal setting but teaching formally is whole different thing. For a start, people are paying me to teach them to hoop. Gulp. I had 11 people enrol for the class, which was run through the local Community Education Service [CES] as part of adult learners week. Eleven was the maximum number we had allowed for the class - it sold out in less than a week, which I was pretty happy about.

So I spent much of my weekend organising music, practising stretches and warm ups, running through important information to tell the students, and going through moves - the class was focused on waist hooping, but I had to have some other moves ready just in case everyone picked it up really quickly.

Although I felt a little nervous about the class, I was mostly excited and happy. There was a quiet hum of satisfaction in my bones as I made my preparations - a sense that I was doing something I should be doing. I had been hooping for just two weeks when I wrote in my journal: "I'd love to teach hooping classes - obviously I'm nowhere ready to do this [yet] but one day I will be!"

I never imagined that day would be less than six months later.

The class went really well. My students were mostly older women and they were lively, enthusiastic, open-minded and so positive. Every person who successfully spun the hoop around their waists was rewarded with claps and cheers from her classmates. Some of them picked it up immediately; some really struggled, but by the end of the class everyone was spinning happily away.

Tonight's class was just a taster: in October I'll be starting an eight-week hoopdance course through CES. Most of tonight's students said they would enrol for the eight-week course! I can't wait.

Happy hooping,
Anne-Marie x