Hoop Camp Reflections
I’m back home in Carrboro, NC, this morning sitting with a cold, half-full, cup of coffee next to me trying to sort out my thoughts and feelings about my visit to northern California this past weekend for the first ever Hoop Camp. I’m still a little dizzy from the experience. Yet, I don’t want to let this moment pass without writing my thoughts and feelings down before day-to-day life takes back over. Forgive me for the lack of organization here, but I, too often, let moments like this pass while struggling to make written sense of it all. This event was important enough to me that I’m willing to ask for some forgiveness before this stream of consciousness begins its flow. My apologies to every English teacher I’ve ever had.
Before I get going with my thoughts on the weekend, I’ll set the stage for some of you who could not make it. Hoop Camp was held at a retreat center amongst tall redwood trees and a Sun that kept us warm most of the day. The event, organized by Heather Troy of Santa Cruz, CA, was a collection of workshops given by various teachers and performers over a very dense, tightly scheduled weekend. Each teacher was given 50 minutes (taught 3 times) to share some of their hoop knowledge/Flow with hoopers of all skill sets and backgrounds. With over ninety tickets sold (the event was sold-out), Heather organized a flow rotation of three groups moving between three workshops, one after the other. The system allowed for each student to take every workshop if they were so moved.
In order to teach all of my classes that week, Ann and I had to take a very early flight (5:30 a.m. boarding time) on Friday morning in order to be in Santa Cruz on time. Ann, Beth, and myself had asked Heather if we could combine our blocks so that we could present together. Heather complied by giving us the lone, opening workshop on Friday night. This was great for us because we were able to relax for the rest of the weekend, but it did present us with challenges. The biggest challenge was that the entire camp had the opportunity to be present which meant a workshop of possibly 95 hoopers (83 actually attended.)
I don’t want to spend too much time talking about our workshop effort, but it felt good to us. I’m always second guessing myself, but I felt good about my part when it was over. I was, admittedly, swept up in the emotion of standing in the middle of 83 hoopers, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. To be honest, I felt unusually at ease. My goal was to create a space for the entire weekend, and I believe that was achieved. It was my first time co-teaching with anyone else in a workshop, and it was a pleasure to share the space with two very special friends of mine. I thought Ann and Beth did a very good job, but I’ll save my thoughts on our workshop for another blog. I imagine most who are reading this are scanning by now, so I’ll skip ahead to my thoughts about the workshops I attended as a student.
On Saturday morning, I sleepily headed down to Bunny Hoopstar’s workshop on working with multiple hoops. I had overslept, so with coffee in hand, I watched from the fence the last ¾’s of her first section. Then, I stepped into the second one as a full participant. I found Bunny to be captivating, informative, and exceptionally smooth in her very matter-of-fact presentation style. Her lesson plan was aggressive, but very rewarding. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to take the same shop three times in row. I hated to break from the schedule, but I enjoyed the moment so much, I just decided to stay there. Bunny is a really bright light in Australia and I am honored to call her my friend.
The second workshop set after lunch included Spiral, Sharna Rose, and Shredder. Sharna’s workshop was a lot of fun. Her emphasis was on play as a muse. She created an open, safe space for us to push ourselves into new territories of exploration. Sharna’s hooping is ridiculously excellent. I have never, ever, seen such a repertoire of moves. I don’t like to rank hoopers, but I believe she is one of the leading hoop talents in the world and she deserves every bit of praise that she receives.
Shredder’s workshop was more a performance than a workshop for me. I love Shredder. We have known each other a while, and in that time she has really stepped into herself. Her workshop was a chance for me to be inspired by her strength and flexibility. I tried to keep up, but when we got to the backbends and headstands, I just sat back and watched. Her point that our bodies needed to be loose in order to be strong hit home for me and I hope to work more stretching into my practice.
Spiral’s workshop was my most anticipated. Spiral and I go way back. She and I are forever linked and being with her this weekend I realized again how strong my Love for her still is. Spiral was my first hoop buddy and her Belief in my teaching has always been a Wind at my back. She executed her workshop flawlessly and thoroughly. She was mobbed at the end of her workshop with students asking questions and lavishing praises on her. I have seen that happen everywhere she goes. I used to joke that Spiral was my personal cloak of invisibility. Nothing has changed. Without much effort, when Spiral starts to spin I (and just about everyone else) fade into the background. Having said that, I still found Spiral very well balanced between humility and honesty. One of the weeds that grows in our collective Garden, is the “I’m gonna tell you how bad I am, so you call tell me how good I am” dandelion. Spiral owned her experience as a known hoop performer and teacher and taught confidently from that vantage point. She didn’t apologize once for being good or admired by others, and I think it made us all feel better about ourselves. Everyone knows Spiral is my favorite hooper and Sister, but my Love for her is not the sole source of my praise. She was just that good, and I have one more reason to brag about knowing her.
That night’s workshops were sewing and fire hooping. I’m not as into fire hooping as most of the community, so I took the time to head down to the Great Field that night for a very, very rare “guys only + Beth and Erica” hoop jam. Yes, my fellow males, it happened! We unapologetically listened to Dead Prez, P.E., Paris, Tool, Rage, and anything else I could dust off in my collection that was full of angst. It was great, but none of us complained when the girls finally showed up. Patrick showed up later with 25 of his PSY hoops and the sky was lit up with spinning LED’s. It was quite stunning. Well… I’m guessing it was. I was blind most of the time. (Crowds make me nervous.)
The next morning we had three workshops scheduled. My first was Christabel’s. For those of you who do not know Christabel, she is the owner of the hoop company, HoopGirl. If we were to imagine hoop instruction courses as martial art “Dojo’s” [a Kimowan McClain concept], then I would say that I truly realized the power and influence of the HoopGirl Dojo this weekend. Christabel has created a language that is so widely used it is astonishing. I feel as though the entire hoop Community has something for which to thank her. I certainly do feel an enormous sense of Gratitude. As I looked around and saw so many she has taught or taught how to teach, I realized, though she and I are good friends, that I have (unknowingly) underestimated her impact. As a member of this Community, I would like to thank her for all of the hard work she has done in building Hooping into what it is today. Her workshop was so far outside of my box, that I found myself wonderfully, pleasantly, hopelessly lost in her Method. If Anah’s workshop had not been next, I would have stayed for two more.
Anah’s workshop was focused on core techniques and “yumminess.” For you HP out there, Yumminess is most closely akin to the Maidan idea of “Inclination.” Doing what feels goods will create a very powerful momentum according to Anah. I, wholeheartedly, agree. My experience of taking Anah’s workshop was really about saying, “amen” a lot. Anah and I also go back a ways. It was good to hear from another “gray-Feather” within the hooping world. She emphasized Flow and personal attraction to moves and techniques, rather than mastery and stature and I found myself sitting right in the middle of her proverbial choir. She let us know she is working on a DVD and I look forward to its eventual release.
The last workshop for me that day was a discussion facilitated by Shakti (sp?) and AliCat of the Boulder hoop tribe. I was exhausted after the two previous workshops, so I had NO problem relaxing in a circle of Hoopers as they discussed the road ahead for hoop entrepreneurs. There was lots of good advice amongst the participants in the circle. I really enjoyed Marjorie and Rob’s advice, but that is for another blog. Shakti and AliCat held the group loosely and I thought that was a smart and helpful tactic. The conversation turned many times, but was always healthy.
And then, it was over. Those participants who could still move without aching, hooped one last time and then we scattered back to our corners of the country.
The weekend felt good, and I hope I’ll find the motivation to write more about it. I’m still processing what went on, and I’m sure that I have left information out.
Thank you to Heather for the amazing job she did herding cats and creating space for so many of us. Thank you to all the presenters who came and gave so generously of their gifts. Thank you to all the participants who made this weekend beautiful by sharing their beauty and voice.