Earthquake: The HoopPath in Minneapolis, Day 2

Still interested in hearing about The HoopPath and Baxter's Earthquake tour? well read on! If you missed my recap of day 1, check it out here. There's a lot we did throughout the whole weekend that I'm not covering here because I covered it in day 1 :) Day 2: Core Intensive

The Saturday session started with the same practices that Friday started with, circle, swaying blind and hooping blind as well as the walking practice. Day 2 focused mostly on honing our core hooping technique and finding different ways to think about hooping on the core. Although this sounds boring, I thought it was refreshing to go back to the basics of hooping and explore them more thoroughly.

One of the major challenges he gave us was to work on "second current" hooping. If I naturally hoop to the left, that is my "first current", it is the dominant direction that I hoop and generally I learn moves faster that way. My second current feels extremely weird and weak but learning to hoop in the second current opens up all kinds of opportunities for expressive dancing when you start to learn breaks, which we worked on in day 3.

Baxter introduced us to a metaphor he uses for the point of physical connection with our hoop, her name is Anah (I'm totally guessing with the spelling). He had us imagine a woman running around our body wherever the hoop touched (Paige's Anah apparently ran around her in stilettos with how sore she was the next day) . Our goal was to make the journey as easy for her as possible, we needed to smooth the gaps and guide her as much as we could. This would become especially important with shoulder hooping where our bodies are more rectangular. Since a hoop is circular, it moves easier on circular surfaces so this practice of focusing on where we could round out more made Anah's journey smoother.

After some time on waist hooping, we began working on shoulder hooping, which is something that I'm not all that consistant with yet. I feel like I am still putting way too much effort into maintaining the hoop and I'm not nearly as efficient as I need to be to make it more expressive. Baxter introduced the concept of "Mountain" position as a way to engage both of our shoulders to distribute the work and guide the hoop better. This is really where Anah came into play. Focusing on where the hoop was connecting with me helped me think about where I needed to round my body out. For shoulder hooping, it was important to round out the chest and the back so that Anah wouldn't have to jump from shoulder to shoulder.

Another visual concept from Baxter was the idea of our bodies being like a full 24-hour day/clock, with a day side (front) and night side (back) with our sides being 6am and 6pm. When you are doing breaks and reversals, the 6am and 6pm switches based on the direction the hoop is going. This concept is intended to focus on the different quadrants of your body and where your momentum is driving. It would also become very important for day 3 when we would work on breaks.

We worked on shoulder hooping until my arms felt beat up, and then we worked on them some more only with the added complication of angles. If normal hooping is horizontal, angles means you are either facing down to the ground or facing the sky, thereby throwing an angle into how your hoop is spinning. I'll admit that this was extremely frustrating for me, especially when it came to second current, but I was determined to get as much "flight-time" as I could while Baxter was around to give feedback.

I was elated when free hooping came around and I discovered that the work we were doing with angled shoulder hooping was directly related to one of my favorite moves. The work we did completely transformed the vertical vortex for me, allowing me to duck into the the vertical vortex and stay there, IN SECOND CURRENT, for as long as I wanted to and duck right back out when I was ready. This basically blew my mind. One of my favorite things about hooping is the connections you can make from one move to another. The feeling of making a new connection like this is like building a new neural path in my brain (well...I'm pretty sure that's exactly what it is!).

During the closing circle, Baxter shared his thoughts about hooping and its recent burst in popularity. People often tell him that hooping is just a fad and that it will eventually fizzle out of the popular attention span. He's seen this happen once already but he recognizes that although fads that ebb and flow, they leave a few more dedicated practitioners behind each time. Every person brings something new to hooping that might not have been there otherwise and since learning to hoop is not a static or linear thing there is no set limit on what you can do with it.

The thing that really stuck with me thought was a very simple quote, "Don't let your potential haunt you". It's so easy to get wrapped up in all of the YouTube videos out there that feature hoopers I can only dream of dancing like someday. You quickly deteriorate from, "wow, that's so cool" to "I wish I could do that" to "I'll just never be that good" if you just keep watching videos. But there is a happy balance when finding inspiration. He equated it to a glass that you fill with ice cubes. Each video you watch is another ice cube but it takes time and practice for the inspiration to melt together and add to your collective ability. Instead of getting bogged down in potential, it's best to get out there and practice. Find the joy in your practice and you will become skilled.

By the end of the night, I was extremely worn out but very much looking forward to day 3 where we would work on breaking, paddling and point styles.