Recently Philo wrote a hot article on Hooping.org that has many people up in arms. If you are a hooper I think it is worth a read. Even though it isn't well received by everyone, he brings up some important points that I felt the desire to comment on. Check out the article here: www.hooping.org/2012/02/rolling-it-back/
I wanted to paste my response in here for ease of reading:
"Hi everyone! Wow.. what a hot topic, eh? I appreciate all the passion displayed here and thought I would chime in with my own thoughts on the subject.
This is sure complicated and has many facets. On the social level, when any community grows the number of voices increase and as such the potential for those voices to be dissenting also grows. Beautifully, we have a choice to celebrate the different lenses viewing the art of hooping as diversity rather than viewpoints that negate the other.
In terms of the art of hoop dance, Like Khan mentioned I don’t think that anyone ever SAID “do it my way because it’s better”, but there has been a trend to smaller hoops and as the glamorous star power hoopers have become more visible and are using (mainly) smaller hoops, it is a given that the psyche of the observer will determine, however unconsciously, that smaller is the way to be a skilled or “cool” hooper these days. I myself have had major insecurities because I saw these trends happen, yet I was still drawn to hoop mostly on the body. I am certainly guilty of subtly making these new forms “wrong” out of defense of my style. I have come to my senses thankfully and I take the opportunity to really own my expression without needing to down anyone else’s. I am a body rocker!! That being said I love to go off body as well and have taken literally YEARS to slowly size down to my current 35 inch 5/8th HDPE in order to develop the skill to continue to body rock in a hoop that could also accommodate the newer off body skills I have learned and am learning (it never ends). Everyone’s expression should be up to them. I mean if someone said “oil painting is way cooler that watercolor”, you would look at them like they were nuts!
I think there is a problem here though. I think what Philo is trying to point out is that there is a lack of education happening for newer hoopers. While clearly no-one can be expected to educate everyone who sees them hoop, I do think that those that sell hoops or teach hoop dance should be clear about the functions and uses of various sizes of hoops. I think that Philo is right in being concerned that some people may be walking away thinking they can’t hoop because they were sold, or tried to hoop with a too small hoop the first time. I am convinced that hoop dance got on the map because it became accessible to all due to the larger hoops that we were using. It would be a shame if through lack of education the number of people being lit up by the hoop for the first time EVER was drastically reduced. Just the other day we had an older man with a big belly come to our jam. He couldn’t keep up even a big, heavy 42 inch hoop. We gave him a partner size hoop and he was golden. By the end of the jam he was rocking and rolling on the hoop he couldn’t keep up in the beginning. Imagine if all we had were smaller lighter hoops? This poor guy would have walked away sad and frustrated.
For years I pushed against the notion that bigger hoops are “beginner” or “easier” and smaller hoops are “advanced” or “harder”. Then I realized it is a common notion because on one level it’s TRUE. Hooping on body is most accessible with a large heavy hoop (making it a “beginner hoop”) and MUCH more difficult with a smaller lighter hoop. It takes tremendous skill to hoop (not to mention dance) with a lighter smaller hoop on body, which is why I sized down super super slowly. However, when you talk about off body the inverse it true. It is MUCH easier to hoop with a smaller lighter hoop in the hand than a big ol heavy hoop. You don’t tend to hear that end of the conversation though. ☺ But just because it is more skilled or harder is not a reason to do it! A lot of people actually just really prefer the feel of a heavier or larger hoop. And that is totally OK. Hooping is about a lot of things, but living up to others perceived expectations of ones self is not one of them. THANK GOD!
Unfortunately it is human nature to prefer to appear as advanced rather than beginner. The off body stuff is just plain flashier and can appear more skilled than on body hooping. Hooping on body takes a ton of focus and dedication, but it really doesn’t look like much. It’s benefits are huge but really only for the hooper not the watcher. So the real issue here is pointing to the notion that advanced is somehow better than beginner. Sad really.. I mean is an adult “better” than a baby? Is a flower in full bloom “better” than a bud?
People will be attracted to what they are attracted to. We cannot control the flow of the art nor should we try. I think all of us teachers and hoop providers just need to be really aware of why we are doing this. If it’s to truly affect more peoples lives with the magic of hoop dance, I believe it behooves us all to know that different hoop sizes provide different functions, and when a person needs a bigger hoop OR smaller hoop to provide that. Teachers and hoop makers, bigger IS the easiest access to first time hoopers learning hooping on the body. Smaller IS the easiest access to hand hooping and off body explorations. There is nothing personal in any of this, it just comes down to mechanics. Lets bring the individual back when we provide hoops to new hoopers (and seasoned hoopers alike). What makes YOU tick?"
**The following is an Addendum written in response to some comments from the original post on FaceBook. You can see them HERE.
I am writing this as a response to something brought up by several people. In the line where I say “Hooping on body takes a ton of focus and dedication, but it really doesn't look like much..” Many feel that I am downplaying on-body hooping and saying that it isn’t as amazing as it is. What I was referring to when I wrote that wasn’t the “oh my god, that hooper is totally getting down!” moments. Because saying THAT doesn’t look like much is like saying dancing your ass off doesn’t look like much! I was more referring to plain basic body hooping. What I was trying to say (which didn’t really come across) was that the technique and skill required for on-body hooping can be harder to see so is more easily passed over. Some people “get” it right away, mostly through just feeling the bliss of the hooper they are watching, but many don’t reeeeallly get it until you have more of an understanding of hoop dance.
Ok, on to the part where I have a breakthrough in insight.. When I added “It’s benefits are huge but really only for the hooper not the watcher.” I unwittingly fell back into seeing my art as “less than” the other forms. Thank you all so much for pointing this out! I have done a lot of work in this area and am committed to healing it completely so I can shine fully as the bad ass body rocker I was born to be. SO yes, this line was totally off the mark. While the internal benefits ARE huge, the benefits of watching someone let go completely into body rock magnificence are huge also. And as Rayna mentioned, that can be said for anyone fully in their true authentic flow, no matter what form it takes. Bottom line, hoop from the heart with no apologies and we all win!
OG hoopers... Good Vibe Hoop tribe 03!