[Hooping.org columnist Casandra Tanenbaum takes a closer look at hoop envy.]
While engaged in Hooping.org’s Spring Renewal 30/30 Challenge, I enjoyed confronting one of the most fascinating conundrums about creative life: limitations are truly freeing. We human beings seem to LOVE defining our endeavors with restraint. Our awareness of fleeting time or money sharply illuminates priorities, activities and attitude. We are specially designed to make the most of what we have, and we all do this exceptionally well, every day. Scarcity, often considered a villain, is really a liberator, and so it is for hoopdance as well. Scarcity allows us to fall into the generous loving pattern of discipline.
I love hooping outside, in the grass, having gleefully kicked my shoes off. Outside, all tosses become ethereal. I love hooping in big dance studios, too, using the mirror to catch subtle cues and gestures, and precise placement in flow. Of course, my dream hoopdance studio has at least two mirrored walls and really high windowed ceilings, gorgeous, raised wooden floors, a ballet bar, and an incredible sound system. What happens, however, when you take all that space away?
Visiting my mothers house as the 30/30 Challenge began, I brought my practice into the limitations of HER environment: furniture, light fixtures and glass topped tables all begging to be broken. As much as I admire chaos, I had my relationship with my mom to consider. And really, how often do I find myself apologizing to other dancers in crowded shows because I INSIST on throwing things that ought not be thrown in small spaces (ahem). A little discipline, I thought, might just do me some good. It might be boring, but since it was ultimately for the greater good, I decided to go for it.
Within 3 minutes I was totally engaged. My legs, arms and core were REALLY WORKING: I had no space to turn, really, and I had to lunge to engage in any overhead maneuvers at all. After leaving my mother’s place and returning home, I found myself craving the insights that came from a limited space, and actually started practicing in my office at home. This choice reveals an ultimate irony: a year ago, I moved a beautiful glass bottomed fan from the living room (aka: the danger zone) into my office, convinced it would be forever safe from torment by my plastic rings. Oh, well!
Let me just say, I am falling in love with the practice of small, contained movements in tiny spaces. Collapse the vertical limit, for example: how long can you stay in dynamic flow without bringing the hoop overhead? How LOW can you isolate? What happens with your arms? Your legs? Do you move with a smooth sophistication? Can your dance EXPLODE within restraint? What happens if you bring in the walls about 6 inches on all sides. NOW what, hooper-star?
Cultivating a love of discipline in hoopdance practice is the real gift of the 30/30. Discipline needn’t cut into our love of movement, it can grow lovingly around us, crafted into a solid container for us to flow within. It can challenge, heal, inspire or deflate us: it is all a matter of perspective. Cultivating space within me to flow with WHAT IS, I liberate myself in ANY practice space, no matter how small. And keeping the furniture intact? That’s just a bonus.