Learning to Dance
For the last month I have spent most of my hoop time working on a routine for the UMD Congress of Jugglers performance showcase. They have one every year and I’ve done a little something both years I’ve attended. The first year I was too nervous to hoop to an entire song in front of a bunch of jugglers, so I opted for their 15 Seconds of Fame option. I went onstage, did one trick and exited to wild applause. Last year I spent about a week prior figuring out a some good moves for certain points in the song I picked (The Beatles), and improvised the rest. It went well, and it was fun, but about a month ago a friend of mine who gives good advice said I seemed like I ached to dance more when hooping, and that I really should listen to that urge. Since I have a good group of friends at Congress, I decided to make that my deadline for coming up with *something* that expressed all that energy seems to be bubbling up these days.
I procrastinated a little the first week. I worked out a cool intro and practiced until it came naturally, but felt a little stuck getting into the meat of the song. The following week I managed to work out about a third of the song, but didn’t practice as much because I had family in town. Of course the week after that I was down to two weeks and I finally felt that old familiar pressure to power through and finish up the choreography. It still took me about 9 days to be able to run through the entire song without stopping, but it’s there now. I recorded myself (my least favorite thing to do) and identified places that needed more work, and even a few places that my body just doesn’t have the training or flexibility to perform right now. I modified a few things, but I left some of the not-quite-perfect stuff in. I hooped a little later int he day today so I was more awake and relaxed than I typically am in the mornings, and it felt good. I am pretty sure there are still some spots that won’t be what I envisioned, but I feel confident about what I am presenting.
Tomorrow will be the first time I’ve completely blocked out, choreographed and performed a solo piece that feels like it’s just for me. Of course I hope the people watching enjoy it, and I weaved in moves that I think will be visually interesting from the audience perspective, but this one actually feels like (dare I say it?) self-expression… As opposed to something where one element or another is dictated by the setting or the people paying me. I hope people don’t find it boring. I hope that even if I make a mistake I can find my way back quickly. It’s a nice audience, so I don’t think anyone is bringing old tomatoes, but I hope they actually enjoy it. I really hope I can get out of my head long enough to enjoy it too!
I know what I’m saying is standard “artiste” stuff, but this year is the first time I have finally felt a little like an artist in the hoop. I still have a plenty to improve upon, but I am mostly okay with where I am in my practicing. I still imitate a lot of my favorite hoopers, but I also have moments that feel like my own.
I guess I should thank everyone who has been keeping those daily hoop challenges going this year! Hooping and posting about it (almost) every day since Jan 1 has been the beginning of something really transformative for me, and the discipline is carrying over into the rest of my life…hooping is kind of training my mind! In the past couple of years, I have gone from sometimes-hooper/hoopmaker to someone who gets up, hoops, works, makes hoops, and finishes her day with time for cooking, the animals, and, of course, my husband. It is, of course, a process: some days I just can’t get myself to move any faster, or my body doesn’t want to stretch out first thing in the morning, but the majority of days I can stick to a schedule. And I have to admit: it’s a REALLY GOOD LIFE. And all I needed was that little nudge from some people I’ve never met in person for me to finally find the discipline I never thought I had!