What if you knew that your hoop dance creativity was limitless? What if you truly believed it?
The secret to all of this of course is in the DOING. Belief comes through actions.
When you play and DO, moves roll into place, the body strengthens and ease comes. With ease comes confidence and the spark of exploration. Limits are blasted through and creative adventures are endless.
Last week’s tutorial was a floaty, creative adventure from on body to off body: Vortex Lift Off. In the essence of being more adventurous and creative with our hoops by taking action let’s go back over the juicy gateway moves that take us from trick to flow…
Hoop dance is a sweet balance of tricks, transitions and techniques. It is the transitions that amplify the flow states as we move the hoop from on to off and back on again or shift through planes and favourite moves. This week I share with you a fluid transition that takes the hoop from waist or shoulder hooping to above the head. A beautiful float from on body to off body that I call the Vortex Lift Off.
Teaching is a learning experience. Teaching hoop dance is a joy elevator and life changer but would you believe that it can also be stressful, confusing and sometimes a hot mess.
I have had the fortune of attending some of the most delicious hoop workshops/classes on the planet, connected with the world’s most dedicated hoop teachers and shared hundreds of hoop classes & workshops myself. All this goodness got me thinking about what has set the kick ass classes apart.
Naturally you want to give your very best every time you teach hoop dance so here are some ideas that may support making that happen.
Give hoopers the time of their life EVERY TIME. Now there is a mantra to write at the top of your lesson plan.
Burn your lesson plan
This does not mean that you shouldn’t make one in the first place, in fact it is ideal to be so well prepared with a deliciously mapped out plan for not only your class/workshop but your entire course and all of it’s possible twists and turns. But there is nothing more stifling (and annoying to students) than referring to notes as you um & ah, unable to read your own writing and break the beautiful flow of a hoop class.
If you are ready to teach hoop dance then you have practiced your class/workshop on all of your friends, your pets and anyone in the park that would listen, you have done it in front of the mirror and alone late at night. You have got this, it is in your head and heart. Step into the space with a yummy map of a loved up offering. Write some sneaky hints on post its or the wall if you must but turn the lesson plan face down and turn your flexible, unique and connected self UP.
Calm the F down
It is so exciting that you have a room full of hoopers that have turned up to learn from you. Might also be a little rattling. So take a big, deep breath and get a freaking grip.
It can be like those speeches you had to do at school; you timed them perfectly in rehearsal and had the neatest notes all mapped out but when you stood up in front of the class everything suddenly went super speedy and you blurted out a 10 min talk in under 2 mins without taking a breath. There is a difference between being excited and trying to cram your whole entire hoop journey, every move and inspiration into a 1 hour class.
Take it slow (not too boring slow), stay present, try not to race but share with a composed exuberance that allows everyone access to the joy of hoop dance.
Your secret weapon
Keep your eyes and heart open. Your students (especially the new ones) cannot always communicate verbally what is happening for them, especially when they are in the learning zone. Their bodies and moves will tell you what is going on so watch them, really watch them. Don’t be afraid to ask them to show you what is working and not working for them; several times if you must. Watch their bodies (in a non creepy kind of way), how they connect with the hoop, the pathways they take the hoop on. Support by communicating back to them what you see happening in a way that helps and empowers them to learn and move. From your observations you can give individual or group feedback and trouble shooting that will inspire break throughs in learning. Observing your students leads to successful teaching and learning.
Remember that you don’t know everything; and that is perfectly OK
It is OK if you don’t know how to do the upside down, reverse paddle wedgie break that one of your students saw on YouTube the night before. Don’t freak out.
You have a few options: 1. celebrate how awesome said move is and discuss how much practice goes into that level of skill then move on 2. recommend teachers that kick ass at teaching said move and offer to connect student with them after class is over 3. explain how it is something you are working on too and either commit to practice and master it as well as break down how to teach it to them or 4. if you are really feeling it you might like to suggest a hoop jam where you work on it together.
You can always ask the hooper to demonstrate what they have mastered so far and use your awesome observational skills to offer some feedback on their body alignment, timing, spatial awareness, technique etc
Everyone is on a different part of the path
Most of your students (if you are teaching beginners) have not been watching every Baxter, Brecken, Spiral, Kenna, Tiana video (on repeat) since 2006. Shock horror, they might not even know who those hoopers are (I know, right?!). If they are coming into a hoop class as a beginner for the first time they don’t know about the 4398 ways you can do an escalator. So your role may be a beautiful three-fold balance of supporting them through the foundations and beyond by breaking it all down, opening them up to the greater world of hooping, it’s origins & all it’s inspirations as well as guiding them to find their own style. Mammoth task oh great leader. Share hoopspiration without overwhelm, open their eyes to possibilities without pressure and challenge them without comparison; celebrate everyone’s unique process.
Shut up and play
You have so much wisdom and knowledge and you are eager to share it because you are an incredible being offering up your passion to all. But sometimes, just sometimes you need to zip your lips, turn up the music and give everyone time to play, flow, discover, groove on their own. This one is hard to do when you have so much to give. Give experiences, allow play.
Pack your bags
A sure fire way to sabotage your energy is to turn up unprepared having left your music player on the table at home, charger in your other bag, notes under your bed, right sized hoops at the last studio, no aux cable and ill fitting underwear. Give yourself every opportunity to be completely engaged with the hoopers without distractions. Be organised, have a mental list of everything you need and pack it. Reduce your pre class stress by having a spot in your house or car that has your hoop class bag and all it’s essentials, your clean and usable set of hoops plus hoops to sell and everything charged and ready.
Connect with everyone
Yes everyone. Connection comes in the form of individually focussed eye contact, smiles, knowing their name, remembering something special, acknowledgement, praise, feedback and celebration. Everyone has made the effort, taken the time, paid the fees, overcome their own obstacles to come to your class.
Resting bitch face: it’s a thing
Everyone gives off different energies when they are learning/nervous/focussed, don’t let grimaces, frowns and sad eyes put you off. With a smile and open heart talk to your students. Ask them how they are feeling, what they are enjoying, what they are challenged by, make them laugh. Sometimes the most intense stink eyes mask the tremendous learning and joy. Have a laugh, lighten and relax things with sweet conversations, humour and questions.
Leave your BS at the door
We all live on this planet and from day to day experience varying degrees of ups, downs, trauma, joy, disappointment and wonder. We are human. But your students are not your therapists, they have come to hoop class to let loose, find themselves, learn new things, engage with their body…not listen to you whine about your boyfriend/mother/boss. That’s not to say that you need to be a stone hearted robot. Be authentic, honest and open. Sometimes a snippet of reality can help you all connect but remember the reason you have all come together. Why not go for drinks or a cuppa after class and have a good old chin wag, let off some verbal steam.
Break it down
Learning new things can be a thrilling experience or a roller coaster ride for many students so you want to give them easy access to success. One of the best ways to teach and share is to go back and remember how you leanred, what helped you on your journey, ask others how they learned certain tricks and techniques too. This is a great way to really unpack each element and turn it into a joyful teaching and learning experience. There is great power in breaking everything down into bite size pieces knowing that everyone learns differently some students need you to demonstrate time and time again, others need verbal ques, some need physical guidance and then many will want all of the above. Observe how individual students learn, listen to their requests and offer them clear, concise and playful pathways to success.
Create a journey
You want to think about every class that you share as an adventure. Imagine it like a day out at the beach with friends, some moments are hot and sweaty, others are wild and hilarious, then there are the relaxing times and awesome bits of pure play and gratitude. If you think about every adventure that you have enjoyed you will see that it had an ebb and flow , its highs and lows, not every part of it was full on extreme action and on the other hand it wasn’t totally boring. Plan for energy shifts in your classes, offer highs and lows; music and movement focus will really help to prepare for this.
Have you ever walked into a shop or restaurant heard a rocking track and just wanted to bust a move? Yep that’s because music moves us, it helps us to loosen up and find our groove. For that reason creating awesome playlists is vital for a kick arse class. How do you cater for everyone’s tastes though? Sure you may love hardcore techno but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. The answer is variety. You are creating ups and downs energetically with different tricks and techniques so match the tunes and make it the full experience. Watch how people response to certain songs, remember the ones that most people connect with and keep them in your growing list of rad songs to use for the coolest class ever.
Journal the experience immediately
Do it in the car if you have to. As soon as all of the hoopers have left the building grab your hoop journal and write down any observations that you made and any feelings that come to mind, jot down the things that you worked on, if you deviated from your plan and some notes about where you would really like to go with this unique group. These reflections help you to tailor your classes for the group and support you to observe your own teaching, it is also awesome to look back through your notes and remember all the good times! This is also vital if you are sharing one off workshops to different groups of hoopers each time, you want to remember what worked and what you would improve on so you can up your game every time.
What tips do you have for making your hoop classes kick ass?
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Many hoopers I get to hang and spin with have a love/hate relationship with the recently popularised hoop move called the Wedgie. Others have taken this move and started crafting some supremely kick ass variations.
If you don’t know what I am talking about, check out this tutorial with Emma Kenna. It was one of the first tutorials we put up on our YouTube channel that featured the popular Wedgie move.
I personally struggled with Wedgie moves in the beginning, for a number of reasons. I felt like they stopped my natural hoop dance flow, I felt like I was getting tangled up and couldn’t quite work out the timing of everything. Add to all of that the killer inner thigh bruises I was giving myself; I thought perhaps Wedgies were not for me. But after lots of play time I had a Wedgie break through. Check out this tutorial I made where I show you the exact technique that helped me to unlock consistent Wedgie success.
My learning process is always two fold; I love to understand the technique and then I really need to combine the new move into sequences or flow sessions that help me to bring it into my natural hoop dance flow. So I played around with some Wedgie combinations.
Transitions in and out of moves are essential for bringing in diversity to hoop dance, so I also spent some time messing around with simple but varied ways to get in to Wedgies.
And now this week I share with you two Wedgie catch variations to help you transition out of the Wedgie moves.
It wasn’t until I looked back through recent tutorials that I had shared on YouTube that I realised I have had somewhat of a Wedgie obsession. They have become fun moves to mess around with after such a messy learning curve. Feels good to find some flow and ease. I hope these tutorials really help you out.
It seems there are hoopers all around the world who are also obsessed with wedgies and are creating some awesome variations. There is a whole Facebook group dedicated to learning and sharing Wedgies and Escalators. Created by Frank in the US @kingfrak who has become a wizard with the Wedgies. Join the group and share your wedgie love!
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Part of the reason why I love hooping so much is because I have made friends with some of the most darling women on the planet. Ngaire happens to be one of them. A dancer from New Zealand, turned hoop dance performer and instructor, Ngaire is currently on tour in North America. Before she left… Continue Reading