There is a growing handful of hoop artists taking hoopdance where it's not gone before. Problem is, we don't yet have a way to talk about what they're doing.
For those of you just tuning into the world of hooping, Brecken Rivara is one of a handful of household names in our circle. She’s a curly-headed 28 year-old brunette from Jersey that you’d likely never notice if you passed her on the street. Unless, that is, she’s hooping. If you happened to pass a hooping Brecken on the street or while browsing YouTube, then you might struggle for the words to describe what you’re seeing. When I first took a shot at
describing it in an article, I was pretty pleased with myself for coming up with the phrase “sublimely sick, freak-nasty, jaw-dropping groove.”
Certainly, no one watches Brecken dance and feels middlin’ about it. Her hooping elicits
extreme reactions. Mine inevitably takes the form of eye-rubbing awe, coupled with an
uncharacteristic befuddlement. My mind aches to compute what it’s seen, repeating on loop, What the hell just happened? As a person of words, fascinated by what resists articulation, that doesn’t sit right with me. About all any of us can ever say about Brecken and those like her is that she’s “ridiculously awesome.” I don’t think that's enough.
I say this because hooping has reached a point where I believe we can legitimately start a conversation about those who are pushing the accepted limitations of our Art. It's counter-intuitive, I know. The keystone of hooping is its accessibility and its ability to matter enormously in every, in any, life. That won't change just because we take a minute to examine what's happening at the outer echelons of hooping. I write even though there's a Walt Whitman. I still sing jazz and blues despite the fact that Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin walked this earth. Picasso doesn't stop my daughter from painting. The hoopers that leave us dumbstruck don't stop the growing, international, hooping love-fest. But I believe they deserve more than our clumsy, two-adjective accolades, too. These hoopers matter. They change the way we move and think about moving. I don't feel called to hoop "like" them, but I do want to be able to recognize that what they're doing is happening. And what they're doing warrants more than my go-to guffaw.
Brecken Rivara finished up a 10-city solo-teaching tour (her first) last year here in the U.S. I caught her for a day in Dallas, which is why she in particular is on my mind as I write. As far as I know, Brecken started hooping in 2007. I watch few videos, so I didn't notice until this video surfaced in 2009. When I first saw her in-the-flesh in 2010 at Hoop Path, I was particularly impressed with her wardrobe. Her T-shirt plus sweat pant plus white crew sock ensemble blew my mind. For real? Her speech was simple - "waves, follow the hoop, swim, duck, fall, catch" - and at the same time way over my head. I sat out the end, observing from the bleachers, asking myself What the hell is happening? Her vocabulary for hooping had evolved. And my mind-blowing experience repeated itself.
For me, personally, it's never been about how Brecken hooped. It's always been about how she moves. She's on my radar because she moves with a hoop. She further captured my attention because she does it without having to dress herself up. But Brecken's dance has elicited this article because she throws down. She makes me think about what "throwing down" actually means. I watch a video like her 2011 Hoopie Solo-Video Award, "Ok, Who just hooped on the floor?" And I'm reminded that there are NO rules in my backyard. In a video. Or In my hoop. I'm reminded that everything there is to do in a hoop hasn't been done.
Hooping is creating its Walt Whitmans, its Aretha Franklins, and its Picassos. And it's better-than-okay to acknowledge they are among us. They are living art. They are making history right now. They remind us to color outside the lines, to listen intently to our bodies, and follow our hoops wherever they might lead us. They weren't the first to hoop. But they're taking hooping where it's not gone before. Hooping has taught us to move. Our hoop-heroes are charting the course for more-than-that.The hoop gave me permission to dance. But our Artists give me permission to test the limits of what I think I am allowed to do in a hoop. Thank you. You're more-than "awesome." You're changing the way the world moves and talks about movement.
Hooposophy articles authored
by Lara Eastburn
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