[This week Hooping.org columnist Lara Eastburn wonders if hooping will ever be the same.]
There is no question that the Hooping Idol competition (now in its second week) is something the likes of which we have never before seen in hooping. While certainly not the first video-based contest hooping’s ever had, it is definitely the most remarkable. Not only do I love it — I think its got the potential to add a much-needed and exciting dimension to our community. Here’s why.
First of all (let’s just say it), this is perhaps the first time we’ve seen a platform in which constructive criticism is taking an active and accepted role. When I pulled up Hooping.org on Monday morning to see the 80’s week contenders, and scrolled down to find the judges’ comments … well, I can’t be the only one who nearly spit out their coffee! While we might have guessed that our online headquarters and judges would be true to the Idol formula, I still mostly expected it to take the soft-glove approach to which the community is accustomed. Au contraire. Here was one of hooping’s sweetest, friendliest, and most well-known ambassadors dishing out unfiltered opinion. And may I say, it was refreshing?
Now before you get all riled up, dear readers, let’s remember that this is a contest. With some hefty prizes. It’s not like our beloved leaders are picking random videos off YouTube to critique. Just by throwing themselves “in the ring,” our contestants are claiming for themselves a certain level of skill and savvy. Which I also find refreshing. You go, hoopers! And I must say, I’m downright proud of how they’re taking the judges’ comments. In preparing for this article, I (seriously) scoured the Internet looking for complaints and found none. Those that are talking admit they were taken aback, but find themselves grateful to get personalized direction from some of the most respected performers we have. Hell, I’m grateful for it! I don’t even perform and I found myself taking notes. More eye contact, connect deeply with the song, don’t be afraid.
So my point is that I think the judges’ criticisms have opened an interesting door. Not a floodgate, mind you. A door that could allow for something truly magical to begin and benefit all hoopers who aspire to improve their performance-hooping. As one of those annoying, overachieving academic types, I’ll never forget the first A-minus I received in college. I thought it was the best paper I’d ever written – really, that any graduate student had ever written on the subject. I was dumbfounded at my lackluster grade, and went to my professor’s office hours for an answer. Without even looking up from his reading, he said, “I just don’t want you to ever be under the impression that you’re so good you can’t do better.” Best compliment and advice I ever received. Best teacher I ever had. Right now in preparation for Flow Week, I know that our 15 remaining contestants are breaking through the walls of what they thought was possible for themselves. Refreshing and exciting, my friends.
A Note On “Fairness.” There has been some concern voiced across the Web that the popular/public vote could prove unfair. Here, I’m going to ask you all to suck it up. Our own electoral system, and the lives we lead in general, aren’t fair. Come on, now. This is essentially a game show. It’s supposed to be fun. The most you can do here is participate. Vote, for one. Encourage everyone you know to vote (and you don’t even have to drive them to the polls!). And debate, comment, and blog to your heart’s content.
Am I worried about a slippery slope? Not in the slightest. The hooping community has always excelled at policing itself (almost to an extreme). I don’t believe there is anything about Hooping Idol that threatens the basic, founding, and all-encompassing acceptance of ALL hoopers and hooping styles. The fact that there are folks that can run a marathon in two hours doesn’t stop me – or millions of others – from lining up for local 10Ks. I adapt the pro tips to my leisurely running style and keep on truckin’. Here are a couple other reasons I love Hooping Idol.
It’s Pumping Up the (Video) Volume. I hope another thing hoopers are taking home from this competition is that there is a wholly untapped world of possibility for the likes of hooping videos. You don’t have to be in a competition, or given a theme, to take it upon yourself to expand the boundaries of back-yard practice videos or stage-bound performance reels. In the last five months, Hooping.org has outdone itself in encouraging more creativity from us. The Curvy Hoopers Video Challenge, the Hoop Camp Spirit Dance Video Contest, Philo Hagen’s own breakout “Gotta Hoop,” and the unprecedented originality of the 2011 Video Hoopie Award nominees have all proved that we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what hooping has to offer in cinematic artistry. In my mind, this is one of the most exciting new frontiers for our community as a whole.
It exemplifies the meaning of “Competition.” Unless this is the first article of mine you’ve read, you know I’m an unapologetic wordsmith. And if ever there was a word that fits our community, it is competition. Bear with me now while I restore its proper meaning. “Competition” evolved from this elegant Latin origin — competere. Petere, “to attack, work toward, or strive for.” Okay. But the prefix Com-, it means to do it together. (Think “co-worker” or “cohort.” “Companion” means friend today, because when in Ancient and Medieval times there wasn’t enough bread – pain - your compagnon was the person with whom you shared your paltry meal). In the truest sense of the word, “competition” means to “strive together.” It is markedly separate from “contest” and “rivalry” in this way, because it suggests that competition is uniquely fitted to a group that desires to work together towards a common goal. Yes, it declares a winner in its limited circumstance, but takes no interest in the destruction of the other competitors. “Competition,” is by definition, a spectacular tool that responsible communities can use to produce and encourage the best in themselves.
And so I think now you’ll take me seriously when I say this. Hooping Idol competitors, thank you for putting yourselves out there. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are allowing us all to learn and grow. Judges, thank you for “showing up” in the most meaningful of ways and giving us (for free!) welcome and wonderful and priceless pointers. Hooping.org, thank you for continuing to raise the bar for this community. And community, thank you for participating and welcoming “competition” into our community.
I sincerely hope this is just the First Season of Hooping Idol. Don’t You?
Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Superhooper.org. Beyond commenting here, you can also discuss this and other topics related to the Hooposophy for living in Hooping.org’s Hooposophy Group and Gorum. Lara is also the planting and gardening force behind discovering our hooping community roots at The Hooping Family Tree Project.