Well I woke up this morning to a number of pleasant surprises!!
First there was the posting of a video documentary about Flow in which SWhoop 2011 features. Scroll down to see the vid!
SWHoop 2011 surpassed all of my expectations. I’d been lucky enough to go in the first year, and there had been lots of great workshops including one with Baxter, but something about it this year meant it pushed all of my skills, refined my mental approach to hooping and showed me lots of potential new directions to move in. Not to mention the Renegade show on the Saturday night, but more on that later!
Winning the SWHoop scholarship competition was amazing and unexpected; it was so nerve wracking that I ended up actually hooping in anticipation around my living room as it got closer to midnight on the day the competition closed, unable to stop in case I went and checked the votes again, which were changing every few seconds. When it got to midnight I had won! I then realized that as Hoop City is a US site I had another six/seven hours to wait, and tried to go to bed. As you can imagine I didn’t sleep much until the results were announced.
For me it was a life-changing opportunity, as 2011 was the year that I finally went freelance as a hula hooping performer, and it was terrifying and liberating and more incredible than I could have expected, with my motion picture debut in A Lonely Place to Die (a fire hooping Beltane dancer), and cabaret performances at T in the Park and the Edinburgh Fringe. I desperately wanted to progress with my hooping, but the last thing I could have done at that point was to go to SWHoop without the scholarship.
So imagine my joy at being able to walk into a room full of spinning hula hoopers, including Malcolm Stuart, Anah Reichenbach (Hoopalicious, US founder of hoop dance as we know it), Beka Hoop, Gail O’Brien, Emma Kerr, Angie Mack… it was like relief and excitement all at once.
I pretty much jumped straight into a workshop with Malcolm Stuart. He had a great mix of teaching concepts and ways to think about developing your own style and original movements, while still taking time to break down and teach a few of the moves I’d got excited about seeing him do. A cheeky behind the back throw/pass was one of them! His enthusiasm about creating ‘circuits’ – a set of movements that flowed into each other and could be continuously repeated – was infectious and I’m still finding it a really good way of working a few months later.
After this followed a body popping workshop, which was really hard but a lot of fun, a poi workshop with the lovely Kay Dent (Pink Hoops) which got lots of hoopers excited about the basics, and a twin hooping workshop with Bags (Circomedia, Stev2Bags) on Z spins which was really concisely explained and opened up some more basic ways of manipulating a hoop without having to let go at all.
Angie Mack’s workshop on ‘wedgie hooping’ – basically anything where the hoop is trapped between your legs – was fantastic. I’ve always wondered how to do most of this family of tricks and Angie made it seem very accessible. Lots of practice still required to perfect it all, but there was a good graduation of skill level in her teaching.
Gail O’Brien’s (Hoop Spin) workshop was on advanced body rolls including some really nice variations with turns, passes and spins. Gail’s workshop teaching is very clean – you always end up knowing exactly what you learned, how it worked and how to drill it afterwards. I love the way her mind works!
Other workshops I really enjoyed included Loz Because incorporating her dance technique into hoop dance, Emma Kerr’s breaking patterns concept class, Elise’s ballet hooping, and probably the biggest surprise to me (I’m not the most graceful of folk and wouldn’t consider myself a dancer but more a techie in my hoop style) was how much I got out of Anah’s class. I knew she would be an incredible teacher, but I didn’t expect to find myself isolating parts of my body like a sort of cross between bellydance and yoga, really pushing my balance abilities, and really getting into the sheer therapeutic enjoyment of hooping on body. I don’t use the word inspiring lightly, but I can see exactly why she’s got so many people deeply into hoop.
Other things I have to mention – the cabaret show was incredible! We were treated to the poi-hooping inventor of manipulation Dustin Hubel, which blew several people’s minds so messily they had to go outside to clean themselves up. Contemporary dancer Beka Hoop was seamlessly beautiful, Loz Because had some serious swing dance skills, Zoe’s (Delilah Di sGrace) burlesque was sweet and funny, Bags and Tilly Twist (Rings & Tings) pioneered some new partner hoop concepts, and Malcolm did things with a poncho I can’t really talk about.
There were also pies from Pieminister (they make gourmet pies). They do a pie called a Heidi, which has goat’s cheese and sweet potato in it. It is not the main reason I enjoyed SWHoop, but it is up there. The food generally was very tasty and always filling which is what you need to compensate for huge amounts of hooping.
So, seriously, I can’t stress enough how much of an absolute treat this hooping convention was. I spent time with amazing people, have enough material and ideas to keep me practicing and developing for the Western union money order whole winter, and am feeling thoroughly in love with my hoop. Thank you to everyone who voted for me in the competition, and to my talented boyfriend Niall Macdonald (check out his Flickr here) for taking the picture that you liked.
Make sure you SWhoop it up in 2012
Kat Borrowdale – Stakkato Blue