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Maria Randolph recaps her second year at Hoop Convergence....
After a good nights rest, thanks to my hostess, Beth, I was ready to start the day on Friday with Shakti’s Fine Lines workshop. Shakti’s teaching is concise, comfortable and easy to understand. I found her pace to be one I could follow without getting either bored or impatient. I find that my brand of learning needs a LOT of repetition and I need moves really broken down. Shakti gave us plenty of time between moves to work at our own pace. Despite the fact she was just getting back from Sacred Circularities in Bali and had very little sleep her teaching seemed unaffected.
I also took Beth’s class on Exploring Texture in the Vertical Plane in which I attempted to look as liquid and smooth as her own moves and found it MUCH harder than it appears. I’m gonna need a little more flight time with those moves! I appreciated Beth’s approach to her class. She commands attention but does so with humility, grace and humor, always encouraging the workshop attendees to make the moves their own while going at their own pace. There was a little collaborative fun towards the end as other instructors in attendance shared what they appreciated about the class. It’s always great to see instructors taking each other’s classes and discovering new concepts and ideas.
I’m left brain/right brain challenged so taking Caroleeena’s fan class was like taking a poi class for me, which is often like a foreign language to my brain. A bit befuddling as I attempted moves that looked so simple but that my brain didn’t really want to digest. Caroleeena has a well known teaching style and she brought it to fans interweaving history and culture with the movements. While she only had an hour to go over the material, in the end the workshop group made some beautiful fan music together!
Aileen Lawlor’s contact staff was one I didn’t participate in, but watched. The great thing about workshops is that even when watching and taking notes, one can get SO much out of a class. Aileen didn’t teach moves as much as she taught about the relationship one has with their prop. She encouraged us to engage the staff as a story that we were telling with emotion, as an attempt to have a dialogue and relate to the prop and find our inner rhythm. In doing so, the moves start to produce themselves as opposed to being learned. I played with the contact staff here and there throughout the weekend and think that I possibly have a new love. No left brain/right brain confusion, and every bit as lyrical and fluid as the hoop!
And that’s just Friday! This post could go on and on…however, a few more highlights will have to suffice. Tiana’s energy and approach are amazing. What I took away is that it’s all in the feet and loosening the knees as the body and hoop follow. Despite her cough that wouldn’t take a hike, Tiana remained clear, concise and professional throughout the workshop. Her teaching is so very accessible.
I took a hoop to Khan’s class but it wasn’t needed. Partnering up with another hooper, Khan had us exploring the way our body told it’s story without the hoop, and without the music. For ten minutes I moved and explored space while my partner, Angie, watched. Afterwards we shared our experiences as mover and witness in a non-judgemental discussion. We then switched places as Angie moved to her own internal rhythm. I learned about myself, my dance and my thoughts and feelings about others dance in profound ways which I am still digesting.
The rest of the weekend: long string flow wand led by Aileen, Spiral’s class on Whirl’s and Whirlpools (in which I learned some amazing face contact moves), Gail’s concise teaching with humor and perfect pacing. And food…oh, boy, the food, did I mention that? Catering to the needs of a variety of hoopers diet is a major challenge and the retreat center pulls it off with graciousness as befits true southern hospitality. Carnivore, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and completely healthy. Kale salads, fruit smoothies and lemonade stand out in my mind as well as amazing side salads and delicious entrees.
On Saturday night we gathered for the Hoop Flowcase and were blown away by some amazing performances. There are too many to recount, but suffice to say my hands were raw from clapping and my throat sore from shouting. After the Flowcase, we grabbed our hoops and jammed for the rest of the evening. Sunday evening the Renegade Show entertained us further with some of our communities more original and ‘unique’ skills in and out of the hoop! (And we got to meet Mulder who is a big part of Caroleeena’s tutorials! He performed just for us!) Oh, and the vendors! How could I forget the amazing jewelry and clothing collections featured as well as getting to try Astral Hoops products in person! I’d like to say I bought new flow toys this year, but I succumbed to clothing vendors instead!
By Monday afternoons closing circle I was exhausted physically and emotionally. My brain was trying to digest all I had learned and experienced. I was delighted when we circled up and listened to about 10 minutes of beautiful local wood flutist. It was the perfect end note to ground us as we left with teary good-byes.
For more about Maria, read on here. Also visit her Facebook Page HoopMe!
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