Saturday, May 25, 2013

~ * Hoop Convergence * ~ Part I

Shared by: Maria RandolphChestnut Ridge Retreat Center in Efland, N.C.

HOOP CONVERGENCE 2012 (photo credit: Maria Valentin)

Maria travels from Maine down to North Carolina to attend Hoop Convergence, an annual hoop retreat, for her second year. Maria organizes workshops and hoop festivals in Maine each year, and gets much of her inspiration from the strong Hoop Community in the Carrboro/Chapel Hill area. She shares her experience with Hippy Go Lucky Hoops...

"Hoop gatherings build your hoop skills. They challenge, they focus, they make us dig deeper. Hoop gatherings delight, sometimes frustrate. They round us out, they introduce us to new technique. They make us think and they build community. Save your pennies, leave your anxieties behind and join your hoop family. You won’t regret it. Neither will your hoop."
When I first started hooping, I closely followed both the Hoop Camp and the Hoop Convergence template as a model for HoopFest NewEngland’s first year. Julia and Scott, owners of The Flowjo and partners in Synergy Flow Arts, along with a team of co-conspirators, have gathered hoopers for the retreat in NC for the last six years. Julia can trace her hoop journey as one of the first hoopers in the area, and the hoop community of Carrboro feels like a family that intertwines into the roots of the soil. What Julia had built resonated with me even though I had never been. I could catch the “feel” of HoopCon from listening to others, perusing the website, and looking at the photos from the event.

2012 was my first year experiencing HoopCon. I was nervous and a bit overwhelmed, however it took less than a day to feel that I was right at home. Warm smiles, welcoming looks, and ready laughs. This year was no different. Landing in the warm North Carolina country side was a breath of fresh air and it just felt “right” to be there once again. The atmosphere before, during and after HoopCon felt like family: relaxed, accepting, welcoming and sure, even a bit challenging

The theme of Hoop Convergence this year was Radical Inclusion. This means that more than just the hoop was included, but a wide variety of flow arts: flow wand, sphere, contact staff, poi, juggling, cyr wheel, aerial silk and acro spinning to name a few flow arts represented.  There were also discussion groups and activities that surrounded our concepts of body and dance with and without the hoop. I was honored to be presenting my own version of inclusion, HOOPtalks, a presentation format for hoopers to speak their brilliance to the hoop world at large.

The stories and experiences of other hoopers were part of the catalyst for HOOPtalks, which debuted on Thursday night after dinner. With and amazing amount of support from the audience BEX Burton, Angela Sheehan, Robyn Brehault, Carla Snow, Tiana Zoumer and Urska Zajec delivered 10 minute slide presentations that highlighted their particular streak of inspiration. HOOPtalks was born out of my desire to see the sparks of inspiration the hoop drives in us and spread those concepts further to the community. We do this regularly in the realm of instruction and performance, but I was eager to see hoop brilliance shine in presentation format. The response from the audience and community far exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait to see how it takes off in the future!

As a true introvert who needs plenty of space and downtime, once again this year, I paced myself. I took plenty of time to breathe deep, take solitary walks, embark on quiet conversations, and put the emphasis on soaking in the experience rather than running myself between workshops. I truly enjoy connecting with people and listening to their opinions, their story’s and experiences surrounding hooping, and I took plenty of time to do just that! As we are a smaller community here in Maine who know each other well, so this time to get to know other hoopers from around the country is really important to me.

Friday was a full day, and Maria writes extensively about Shakti’s Fine Lines workshop, Beth’s class on Exploring Texture in the Vertical Plane, Caroleeena’s fan class, Aileen Lawlor’s contact staff workshop. The rest of the weekend was packed with more learning, sharing, performing, flowing and a common love for the hoop. Stay tuned to read part 2 of Maria's HoopCon journey...

Photo Credit: Jessica Katharsys

Photo Credit: Carla Snow

Photo Credit: Maria Randolph
For more information on Hoop Convergence, visit their website.
Fore more about Maria Randolph, click here.

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