Saturday, 18 May 2013


Releasing into knee hooping.

I’ve started learning from an arse-kicking set of tutorials over at Hoop City. The series is called “Waves” and it’s taught by a famous hooper called Brecken Rivara.

I describe the tutorials as arse-kicking because they are unlike anything I’ve learned in hooping before. They are, as the name suggests, full of waves, wobbly moves and twists and melting from one plane to another. I tend towards the big, energetic moves, like throws and tosses; so I’m taking Brecken’s classes to challenge myself. And because I adore her hooping, and if I could take a class with her in person one day it would be a dream come true.

If you are not familiar with Brecken, here is one of my favourite examples of her extraordinary dancing:

In these tutorials, Brecken often talks about the call and response nature of her moves. How the hooper begins the move, then has to release control and let the hoop take over to complete the move. 
Her comments bounced around in my head for a while, as things sometimes do. And then I realised that I’ve already encountered many hooping occasions when I, or my students, have had to RELEASE to make any progress. In my classes, some of my best students have a tendency to overthink new moves. They are focused on putting their hand there and turning the hoop there, and they must control every step of the hoop’s journey. Consequently the move they’re trying to do evades them. Because sometimes all they need to do is starting the hoop moving and let the hoop do the rest of the work.

“Don’t overthink it!” is something my students hear me say a lot.

I often need to take my own advice. Knee hooping is a great example of this. It’s not a difficult move but for some reason I found it impossible. Every day for the best part of a year  I would strain and struggle with knee hooping. My practice was certainly consistent – the hoop dropped to the ground every time! Then one evening in March while John and I were watching a football match on television I stood up to stretch, picked up a hoop, and threw it straight onto my knees. It took a few minutes for me to realise I was knee hooping.

These days, when I’m struggling with a move, I will work on it for a while then put it aside and come back to it later. Maybe a month or two later ... and it's amazing how releasing the need to nail that move, right now, can bring success. A word needs to be invented for that magic moment when you stop straining and allow the move to happen. That moment when you stop wondering, “Am I doing it right?” and realise, “Ah-ha, that’s it!” It’s a wonderful moment.

I'm not saying you shouldn't work to get things right. But there is such a thing as trying too hard, and the trick is knowing when to push through and when to release.

I’m sure there’s a life metaphor in all this :-)

Happy hooping,

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