Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A different groove.

In mid-flight

I've become a lot bolder with my hooping recently. I've talked about this for a while - now it seems to be actually happening.

I feel there is a real experimental quality to my dance. I'm not afraid to take a familiar groove and send it in a different direction.

We all have "riffs" or "phrases" that we know and are familiar with - this move follows this move and this move. It's good to have those riffs to give our hooping some steadiness. But if we rely on them too much we can feel our dance become stale and static. In the past I think I have relied too much on these familiar phrases.

But recently I've had so much fun stopping the middle of some thing familiar and wondering, "What can I do differently with this?" I've come up with some awesome combinations through this experimental approach. It has a very meditative feel to it.

I'm also no longer afraid to make mistakes. A mistake is merely an opportunity to send the hoop in a different direction!

Happy hooping,
Anne-Marie x

Saturday, 7 December 2013

How to hoop!

That would be me, waist hooping.

Okay, I meant to post this aaaages ago but I forgot: instructions on waist hooping for beginners.

Waist hooping is the first move you learn in hooping. It's like first position in ballet, like dribbling the ball in football. You could learn to hoop without it, but you'd struggle.

Some people I've taught to waist hoop are content to stop there. They like to hoop, and it's good exercise, but they're not interested in fancy-pants moves. Others want to learn more. Either is good - there's no right or wrong.

Before you begin, you need to find the right hoop for you. Here are my guidelines for choosing the right hoop, but you may have to experiment a little because no two people are the same. If you're really struggling to hoop, and you've followed my trouble-shooting tips, consider changing your hoop size if you can.

Okay, let's get started.

Put your hoop down on the ground - you won't need it just yet.

We'll start off looking at stance. Stand with your feet together. Now move one foot - it doesn't matter which - a few inches forward and slightly to the outside [eg, if you moved your right foot forward, take it slightly to the right; slightly to the left with your left foot]. Keep your knees soft. You don't want them bent, but they have to have some "give" in them.

Tuck your bottom in. Keep your upper body as still and as straight as you can. Begin to move your weight from one foot to the other, so that you are rocking back and forth. This is where your knees must be soft as they will bend and straighten as you move.

Now add in your hips. For many of us, isolating our hips is difficult, but you will get the hang of it! As you rock on to your front foot, push forward with your front hip. As you rock on to your back foot, push backward with your back hip. Beginners do need to do this with a fair bit of power. Remember that your upper body must stay as still as possible - all the movement is from your hips and below.

Now pick up your hoop.

Put it around your body and place it in the small of your back. Hold it comfortably. Think about which direction you want the hoop to spin in - clockwise [to the right] or anti-clockwise[to the left]? Some people know immediately, others need to experiment a little. Keeping the hoop as flat as you can, give it a strong push in your preferred direction, and immediately begin your rocking motion.

Are you hooping yet? Remember that some people pick it up straight away and some need a bit of practice. Don't beat yourself up if it doesn't happen immediately.

Here are a few trouble-shooting tips:
+When you hold the hoop ready for push-off, make sure it is FLAT, not drooping downwards.
+Really try to keep your upper body as still as possible. If you're unsure stand in front of a mirror.
+If it's hard for you to isolate your hips, practise rocking back and forth without the hoop.
+Don't bend over forwards to look at yourself hooping - the hoop will most likely drop to the ground.
+Remember that when you first begin, you do need to move those hips strongly to keep the hoop going. Once the movement is in your muscle memory, you won't need to use the same force.

It is normal to have some bruising around your hips after your first experience of hooping. Don't be alarmed if that happens - it's like a rite of passage. I like to call these bruises hoop kisses. But PLEASE be careful with your body, especially if you have back or knee problems, and if you have any pain, stop.

Happy hooping!
Anne-Marie x

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Five dreadful years.

This month marks five years since I began my dreadlock journey. It's been an interesting year for my dreadlocks and me, as we have wrestled with our future together.

In the past year my dreads have grown more than in the previous four years put together. There have been times when even I could see they'd grown in the space of a week. At four years, they were just below my shoulder blades; at five years, the longest ones touch my hip bones.

Well, they would do if I hadn't cut them...

When you begin your dreadlock journey, you think about your dreads all the time. You touch them all the time and you want to look at them all the time. This was me for about the first three years. Then your dreads start becoming - for want of a better phrase - part of you. You identify as a dreadhead but, because your dreadlings no longer need your constant mothering, you don't think about them as much.

So I was at that point. But I was also at the point - with this super-fast-growing pile of dreads - of getting headaches nearly every day. I have such a ridiculously sensitive scalp that I couldn't tie my hair up for long. Left loose, my dreads were spectacularly beautiful but they were also interfering with my ability to hoop. And you know, when that happens, you must do something!

So I was ummming and ahhhing for months about my dreads ... was I ready to release them or did I want to keep them? And then my dear husband came up with a solution: "Let me give them a trim," he said one recent Sunday morning. Without hesitation I handed him the kitchen scissors and we headed outside.

John chopped about 15cm off the bottom of my dreads. Immediately my hair felt lighter and hooping was easier [oh joy!]. I can even wear my dreads tied back and not get a headache. The downside is that I of course no longer have stunning, hip-length dreads. But I'm okay about that!

I may yet get rid of my dreads - but I don't think that time has come.

Happy hooping,
Anne-Marie x

PS. Here are before and after shots: