[Saladora Pantz celebrates her IndepenDance.]
Usually when I think of the 4th of July I picture Uncle Sam, the American Flag, aliens invading, and (of course) fireworks! But this year will be a little bit different. This year, I will be expressing my independence in an entirely new way, a semi-frightening way. Every year here in my hometown of Richmond, Indiana, locals gather to watch the pyrotechnic display high above the amphitheatre at Glen Miller, our local park. The smells, the chatter and the booming lights have been etched into my memory since childhood and this year promises to be just like any other – with one exception. I will be performing for the first time in public.
When I first started hooping, around a campfire at my friend’s birthday party, it was instantly intoxicating. I knew I had found something that I would be continuing for the rest of my life. I soon realized, however, that dancing in front of strangers was going to be a challenge for me. As soon as people were around, at a festival, or even when I was hooping at a local park, my skills disappeared. My nerves would take hold of me and I became very disheartened! I wanted to be confident enough to dance and hoop at the park on a sunny day, to play at gatherings and experience the relaxed feeling I would find while hooping alone in my room.
I love the feeling of hula hooping while dancing and listening to music. It has been a huge stress reliever in my life, and a way for me to release my very much otherwise nervous energy. With time I found that hooping could also be very centering and the longer I hooped the more I came into myself and worried less and less about what was going on outside the circle. So even though I kept losing my nerve in crowd after crowd, the hoop itself became my biggest tool for moving me beyond my self-consciousness.
This year, I will once again be attending the fireworks show. In fact, I will be showing up a little bit early, when dusk has just settled, only this year I will be bringing my rainbow LED Hula Hoops. Hooping has given me a sense of independence from worrying so much about what others think. I’m no longer as dependent upon the approval of others to follow my dreams, so for Independence Day it was time to formally recognize. Even though I love hooping with all my heart, performing publicly for my hometown for the first time will be quite a challenge. I’m taking this year to show my true ‘colors,’ my new found hooping independence, and bring a little fun and dance to the celebration.
From the beginning, hooping has been an inner journey, a path towards finding a peaceful and calm center within myself. And the deeper within myself that hooping has taken me, the more my confidence has grown and the closer I have come towards a true sense of independence. I have seen hooping as an incredible way for me to open my body and my heart to new patterns of movement, to new ways of thinking about the world, and to new friends and communities. And now I am realizing that the hoop has begun to help me in another exciting way. My hoop dance is now allowing me to fully express myself in front of others. It turned out this place of awareness and calm that hooping helped create inside of me, was the same place I needed to be present while hooping in public.
So in honor of this new found indepenDANCE, I will be stepping outside of my shell and dancing with new found courage, sharing the joy of hooping with the town in which I love and live. I simply take a deep breath, feel the music or the sound of my breath, and bring the hoop with me through a dance of celebration. I have found my independent groove, and ultimately an ability to play wherever I desire. There is no place like hooping, allowing all of us to express ourselves in the moment. Let freedom ring!