[Hooping.org columnist Casandra Tanenbaum has some tips for creating community.]
People often ask me how I learned to hoopdance. With a shy smile, I admit to hours upon hours of solitary practice and reviewing countless YouTube videos to expand my skill set. My house, and backyard patio were my first practice spaces, amidst scuffed, scratched walls and that one low hanging cable that made it impossible to do practically any tosses. Personal practice is fun, rich with powerful lessons for movement and life and, after some time, it can become achingly lonely.
Unless you are lucky enough to have a community of hoopers around you, hoopdance can feel like a very isolated activity. Thankfully, we can participate in the online forums, share and comment on posts and videos, but there is a significant difference between “talking about hooping” with someone and actually hooping with someone. Often I see messages in my regional forum from newbie or recently relocated hoopers crying out for someone to come find them and hoop with them! It is as if we intuitively know that the fruit of our practice becomes much sweeter when shared. You might be thinking, perhaps with a wistful sigh and downward glance, “well, that’s nice. But REALLY, you don’t understand: I’m the ONLY ONE HERE.” Well, that might be true. Or, then again, it might not!
For over a year I practiced in local parks, dodging curious stares and scoffs from passersby, never meeting another local hoopdancer. Little did I know: they were doing the exact same thing, IN THE SAME PLACES, on different days! We were merely orbiting within our own personal hooping universe, blind to each others’ presence.
So how do we peel off our own and each other’s blinders? For me, it starts with the root of what drives my dance: the MUSIC! Like MANY other hoopers, my first introduction to hoopdance took place at a festival. Music provides the occasion for the dance, and live music events are bound to bring hoopers out of their houses. True, some music venues don’t allow hoops, but many do, and you’ll never know unless you try, right? Music festival season is beckoning you and your hoops to outdoor fun. Bringing your practice outside to public gatherings and events is a surefire way to inspire and excite people, and to invite them to hoop with you. You never know if the skeptic you just handed a hoop to will become your new best friend or hoopdance addict!
Just talking about hooping opens doors to creating a community of hoopdancers. As a newbie hooper, I remember feeling silly as I talked about my hoop habit. On the one hand, I was embarrassed to have such a limited movement vocabulary and on the other… well… it’s just a kids toy, right?! Over time, I discovered that simply talking about hooping was one way of growing our circle, expanding the “hoop” to include more and more playful spinners in our joy. Really, how can we expect to achieve our dreams unless we are willing to speak them into being? One day, out of the blue, a barrista at a local coffee shop overheard my conversation with a friend about hooping and put me in touch with HER hooping friend. Suddenly, BOOM! Community!
With all the beautiful leaps and strides in promoting hoopdance to the world, people everywhere are opening up to this precious gift of movement. You, at your computer, wherever it is that you call home, are part of a vast and growing international community. Know that we are also your neighbors, your co-workers, your fellow drivers on the freeway. Your hoopdance community already exists, all around you, even if you can’t see it, feel or touch it. It starts with one, and that ONE is YOU! Be bold, and keep pushing: what goes around comes around.