2014: Recapping and Looking Forward

December 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

2014 was a productive year!

At the beginning of December, I graduated with two associate’s degrees: one in nutrition and one in pre-health science: pre-exercise science.  I have to complete a lot more schooling in order to reach my ultimate career goal of working in physical rehabilitation, but it is definitely nice to reach a milestone.

As for dancing, things have really taken off for my dance troupe!  This year, Desert Darlings Belly Dance performed at many events and venues and secured two regular performance slots: every Saturday night at Anatolia in downtown Albuquerque and every Sunday night at Kaktus Brewery in Bernalillo.  We put on two full-length dance shows and were invited to re-show our most recent production, Nightmare Before Christmas: A Belly Dance Adventure, in Santa Fe in early February. I also got a new toy: podpoi with capsule handles!  These poi are the coolest, most versatile glow poi I own.  They have a ton of lighting patterns and color options.  Now, when I am developing a new poi performance piece, I am not only a choreographer, I am a lightning designer! It’s so much fun! It has been a great year for dancing!

In 2015, I will begin working toward two bachelor’s degrees and hope to perform twice as often as I did last year.  I am going to choreograph my first group veil piece for Desert Darlings and plan to attend at least two workshops and maybe a dance festival. I would also like to practice more with both my poi and hula hoop.  I think it will be a good year!

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Belly Dance, Hooping, and Fusion

August 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

It has been a busy summer, but I have been able to find more time for hooping!  It is a great full-body work out, invigorating and most importantly, fun!  Being at the “blossoming beginner” stage of a hobby is very rewarding.  I now have enough experience with the hoop that I am able to learn new tricks more quickly (courtesy of homeofpoi.com‘s “learn” page) and there is so much to look forward to learning.  I like to enjoy every stage of a hobby, but this is an especially fun one.

When I first tried hooping, it was in a workshop with a teacher who also taught belly dance.  Most of the students in the workshop were belly dance students, and we started the class by repeating several times, “hooping is not belly dance!”  The teacher wanted to make sure we weren’t inserting unnecessary movement into the hooping because of our belly dance muscle memory.  The two art forms use some of the same muscle groups in different ways.  That being said, there are some types of isolations used in belly dance that are useful with certain hoop moves.  For example, being able to move the chest independently from the hips helps with chest hooping.

Hula hooping is a good cross-training choice for belly dancers.  It’s low impact like belly dance, but is very cardiovascular, while belly dance is sometimes not. Not only does hooping aid in muscle strengthening and toning, it can balance the fitness routine.  It is gaining popularity among belly dancers, especially in the tribal community.  This, of course, leads to fusion!  I am nowhere near being to a point where I could fuse together hooping and belly dance, but I sometimes come across videos of this.  This is one of my favorites.  It is artfully executed and reflective of the music.  Enjoy!

Musical Visions

October 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s funny how hobbies work their way into your thoughts.  The more hobbies I pick up, the more it affects my artistic visions.  I’ve been belly dancing for quite some time, casually spinning poi, and am a rather baby beginner at hoop dancing.  When I listen to music now, I often “see” the music in the form of one of these dance styles. Which I see changes from song to song depending on what the song is saying to me.  In the matter of my poi and especially hoop, I am not really good enough to make these visions into reality yet, but I just  need to work on that.  At this point, I really need all three in order to fulfill my dancing daydreams and mental  musical interpretations. This dancing stuff is an addiction!

My next creative project I am planning is a choreographed poi dance.  I am getting to a point where I am having smoother transitions between movements and am adding in variations like lockouts and extensions and what not and need to start actually dancing with the poi instead of just drilling and trying new things.   I think a choreography will lead to some good practicing.  As soon as I pick a song, I will start making a poi vision or two come to life.

 

Hoop Dancing, Belly Dancing and Public Perception

September 26, 2010 § 1 Comment

I have been getting a little more into hoop dancing lately. I have taken a workshop and now own a hula hoop. It is so much fun!

I was talking with a fellow belly dancer who is now also hooping about hooping vs. belly dancing the other day. We have both been belly dancing about the same amount of time (her ten years, me nine). We were discussing how one of the great things about hooping is that you don’t have to worry about having to explain it to people, having to educate people, or having people get the wrong idea.

With belly dance, you have to be careful about how it’s presented and in what venue. There are so many incorrect or negative preconceived notions about what belly dancing is about and what the intentions of the dancers are. It is often stereotyped as a dance of morally loose women or a dance of seduction and sexuality akin to stripping.  Belly dancers often struggle with the way the general public perceives them and the art form. Sadly, many belly dancers don’t share the fact that they belly dance with people in other parts of their lives because they fear the reaction.

With hula hooping, everyone knows what it is. No one will see a hula hooper and react with “what the heck are they doing? They are amazingly keeping this big, circular thing rotating around their body!  How crazy!”  Everyone knows what a hula hoop is, what it’s used for and there aren’t general negative ideas about it. It would be gladly accepted at any venue. Someone could even do a provocative dance with a hoop, and it won’t make anyone think all hoop dancers are loose, because the hula hoop image is already established in our culture.

It presents a very nice sense of freedom that is not always there with belly dance. I can feel more relaxed about it. And never worry about what someone might think.

First Time Hooper

January 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

I tried hooping a couple weeks ago. One of the other dancers in my troupe brought her new hoops to our Christmas party and taught us a couple tricks. It was really fun. I can see why people get into hoop dancing.

I was surprised to learn that the circular movement we all made with our hips when we hula hooped as kids is unnecessary. You actually just have to shift your weight back and forth with the rotation, which is also what makes the dancing part of hoop dancing easier to work in.

Hooping was a little more violent than I expected. It looks like it would be so gentle, but sometimes you can actually hear the hoop smacking against the hooper if you’re close enough to them.  I guess it’s not uncommon for people to get bruises when they’re first learning.  I hooped for about 45 minutes and walked away with just a tender spot right above my belly button and a hoop-width bruise on my thigh. I could tell it was really working my core muscles and it was very fun, so I’d say it’s worth the occasional bump or bruise.  And as my poi teacher used to say, every time you hit yourself, you learn something.

In a way, hooping is like spinning poi. You have to watch the rotation and initiate other moves/tricks at certain points. I found turning with the hoop to be very easy. I was able to turn within one rotation or within multiple rotations. That was my favorite trick I learned because it really felt like dancing. We learned the lasso which is where you pull the hoop from your waist to overhead, rotating it on your hand. This was pretty challenging. We also learned to change the plane of the waist rotation, leaning forward or back (I can’t remember the names of these). That was fun and not as challenging as the lasso.

I can absolutely see the appeal of the hoop. It’s great exercise, challenging and fun, and of course there’s a high “cool” factor. I don’t plan on pursuing hoop right now, mostly because I lack the free time, but I can see myself getting into it one day.

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