This weekend I got to go to a hoopdance workshop with the famed Johnathan Livingston Baxter from North Carolina. He was accessible, funny and good. There is a whole language that goes along with hoopdance- onbody, off body, core, angling, breaks, paddling, and folding. One thing I found surprising is that even very advanced hoopers tend to learn something one direction and don’t work the other direction at all until years of not being able to catch up with them.
The first night I experienced the hoop I have, a 38′ taped HoopGirl hoop, as way too light. With my 183 lbs, I couldn’t feel it. The second night, my 40′ Hoopnotica travel hoop broke at one of the connectors. I am not able to shoulder hoop yet, and this presented quite a handicap. Most flow hoopdancing and the really creative moves involve shoulder hooping. Many of the people at the workshop had numerous hoops. Most had what is called a polypro, and is untaped, smoother and lighter than a thick, taped exercise hoop.
Johnathan was lanky, kind and “silky” in his moves. He was very philosophical and had a wide range of music to accompany his lessons. His way of warming up is to sort of jump/swing the feet in place, like boxers and then sway. Most of the people there had been hooping over a year. I was one of two people who had a few months. His humor and openess about his own story were a plus, at least for me. I felt fairly safe there, even when I was smacking myself in the face and neck, dropping the hoop on my feet and wanting to swear.
I took the broken section of the Hoopnotica travel hoop off and made a much smaller hoop for trying stuff on the third night which was about breaks, paddling and folding. Breaks are changing direction of the hoop without losing flow. Paddling is a way of adding momentum to the hoop after moves which might have slowed it down and folding is a thing where you don’t grip the hoop but let it loop in unpredicable ways around you, working it with the backs of your hands, wrists and forearms.
I got a taste of paddling after a hooper took pity on me and loaned me a bigger, thinner lighter hoop for doing it with my neck. With the folding, I focused on three “bits” of movements which aren’t very complicated to retain the feel of it and didn’t worry about the rest. Most of the people in the class were advanced hoopers. I’m sore, I’m a little bit sick but I’m glad I went.