Ask Revolva: Perverts in the park, teaching credentials and how to do the 4-hoop box split
Ask Revolva is an ongoing column, in which the public expresses confusion about anything from hooping and performance, to career counseling and tax advice (actually, don’t ask about the latter) — and Revolva answers, with wit and wisdom. This week’s questions concern park perverts, badass vs. just plain bad teachers, and how to hoop on every single limb at once like a total freak. Click here to submit a question for future columns.
I love practicing in the park most days, but some days I get tired of people approaching me asking the same questions over and over, and creepy guys who have no qualms about telling me that they’re just “going to sit here and watch for a bit.” Most days I’m up for a lesson, but sometimes I just want to be left alone. Those days I’m less responsive when people approach me. I answer with one word at a time until they go away. I want to be happy and fun when people see me hooping in the park, but I don’t always feel like it, and I feel like I’m doing the hooping world a disservice when that happens. Do you have any thoughts on this?
~ Louisa Hula
Here’s a scenario that NEVER happens: A woman goes jogging through a public park. As she’s running, a group of pervy men begins to jog next to her, asking questions about her stride and her running shorts. One of the men asks if she can take off her shoes so he can try them. At the bend, there’s an old lady, holding up a phone to film every second of the run for YouTube. Finally, a mother stops the run so that her children can hang on the jogger’s legs. The mother leaves her kids hanging there and walks off to make a phone call.
Why does this scenario never happen? Well, people have seen running before. It’s not THAT interesting to them. However, most folks would also feel rude interrupting someone who is so obviously in the zone, in order to perv out, ask questions, borrow equipment or use the runner as a de-facto babysitter.
Not so with hula hooping!
Even if we just left our cramped apartments to practice somewhere with lots of space, we’re often such a curiosity that park people can’t help but to get closer. To watch (sometimes creepily). To ask questions (like, “Can I use the hoop that you’re already using?”). To film. To let their kids walk right into our spinning props. And don’t get me wrong; a lot of these folks are awesome. They’re enthralled by the beauty of what they see and may want to become hoopers themselves.
That said, I think the best advice for how to handle park people is to honor your mood. Completely, and without guilt! If you feel like talking at any given moment, make an energetic space for onlookers as they come over. Have some beater hoops on hand that they can try. Enjoy! It does feel incredible to share this particular bliss.
If you’re in the zone, however, remember that it’s also okay to think, “Hey, I’m like a jogger! I’m training right now. I can keep my earphones in and politely nod to that dude or that entire family who just crept up on me – and keep going. Or I can even avoid eye contact with them entirely – and keep going.”
People who know me well understand that I am an extroverted introvert. Emphasis on the introvert. If I do a big show or spend too long in a crowd, I need to recharge later by not having a lot of interactions. That time to myself, reclaiming my energy, is really necessary. If I can’t turn inward to recharge, I lose all ability to turn outward as Revolva. I used to feel guilty coming off tour and sitting in my room for two days, but now, I just explain to unfamiliar people that retreating helps me keep performing. And I pull in when I need to, so that I have energy left to give to the world later.
Sometimes it’s best to be conscious of where you’re at, and in total kindness to yourself – allow yourself to have what you need. Including the right to smile — and keep practicing. We’re not ambassadors for other people’s curiosities OVER our own well being, just because we have hula hoops. The perverts can go perv out somewhere else. The children can find a tree branch to play with. People can wonder what we’re doing and then simply go home and google it. Everyone will be okay.
It’s totally cool to share what you’re doing when you feel like sharing, talking, teaching and bonding – and to be in your own zone other times, if that’s what you need, even in public space. At the end of the day, we’ll all inject the most positivity into other people’s lives not just when we have hoops for them to try – but when we’re centered and happy from taking care of ourselves.
It totally sounds like that’s what you’re doing, Louisa. No reason to think you’re a disservice to the hoop world if you just feel like giving one word answers sometimes. It’s important to be a service to your own well being. High five!
How important is it, in your opinion, for hoop teachers to have a specialism within the field of hooping? I mean “important” in the sense of “will lead to more bookings,” rather than important in one’s own personal hoop journey. As an add on (and possibly a related question), I have faith in my teaching ability, but in my experience, I’ve taken workshops from fabulous hoopers whose teaching is poor (naming no names). Can one get booked on the strength of being a good teacher — that almost being their specialism, perhaps? Which matters most? Discuss.
I’m going to give your multi-part question a multi-faceted answer. First of all, I don’t think it’s important at all for a LOCAL hoop teacher to have a specialization (“I am a master of breaks” or “I rock minis”) within hooping. Nice maybe, but not necessary. Teaching is a skill unto itself, and the only thing necessary to be a badass teacher – is knowing how to TEACH.
Can the teacher make a lesson plan? Are explanations clear? Are common questions or trouble shooting spots addressed? Does the class flow well? If all that’s hammered out, then it doesn’t matter if the instructor is explaining something she’s been doing for 10 years or one month. It just matters that she can clearly explain the skill and run the class. And like anything, the more you “do” teaching, the better you get.
People who are teaching hooping multiple times per week, for years on end, are ninjas at teaching. Why? Because they are practicing their teaching. I bow down to you, longtime weekly hoop instructors. Who cares if you have 80,000 views on YouTube for moves in a specialized hooping genre, as long as you are killing it with your ability to break down material?
I’m actually sorry that there’s not a way to more widely recognize all the amazing instructors, who are expanding the hooping world, to the benefit of us all – sometimes without much fanfare from the global hoop community. It’s just harder to get a video of “Hey, look at this great class I taught on Tuesday!” to go viral than it is to get a video of some unique, badass moves to go viral. Although, there are always online tutorials, which can have a far reach.
At any rate, rest assured that the hoop world recognizes you when we see you, amazeballs teachers! And yes, I think it’s possible to get booked on the strength of that alone. Word gets around if someone’s class is really good, and I have actually seen that buzz turn into further bookings. On the flip side, as you pointed out, the hoop world also notices poor teaching when we see it. In the YouTube era, it’s really common for someone to blow up based on movement skills and to get hired to teach those skills, without knowing the first thing about how to teach.
There’s a cult of personality in every art form, so sometimes, students may not even mind if a class makes no sense – as long as they get to meet the famous artist and go out to dinner afterward. Other times, students might be fully annoyed and never want to study with that artist again. Everyone has to start somewhere, even if (because YouTube makes the world weird) someone’s first-ever class winds up being taught at a festival, to 70 people. The risk that first-time teacher takes is the possibility that 70 people will leave the workshop saying, “What the &*%* was THAT?”
Now, one more thing on specialization before I wrap up: I do think it’s important for teachers who are traveling, doing teaching tours, to have unique, personal material to offer. Why? At this point in hoop history, there are already people teaching in most local communities. If a traveling teacher comes through town, advertising a workshop, why should the locals bother to take it, unless they feel there’s an advantage to learning a focused topic from that specific person?
Also, there are tons of teachers going on tour now, sometimes through the same city only weeks apart. It’s better for each of them to have their own, unique, self-created class so that they are not conflicting with each other or teaching each other’s material.
In summary, I salute you, hooping teachers! But stop being so skilled because I have to spend time writing words and buying wigs and stuff. Maybe you could just teach like two classes per week instead of 10, and spend the rest of the time hanging out with me at the beauty supply store, so I can catch up? (Okay, nevermind.)
Sometimes, I make tutorials so that people will take me really seriously.
Speaking of teaching, there’s a special bonus with this week’s “Ask Revolva.” A LOT of people have been asking me how to do the 4-hoop box split lately. I was recently on Kenna (Emma) from HoopingMad’s “Hoop Doctor” live streaming show. On the show, I filmed a spur of the moment tutorial on this move, with borrowed hoops. Here is the video. Below the video are some further tips. Enjoy!
Video streaming by Ustream
Other things to note:
The tutorial above was filmed on the fly, without my hoops. Here are some more tips I might have included:
1) In what directions are hoops rotating? After posting the above video, I was asked several times about which way I was spinning various hoops. This list chronicles the direction that all MY hoops are spinning in the 4-hoop box-split (if something else works for you, do what feels good):
* Knee hoop: to the left
* Hoop on foot of extended right leg: backward
* Hoop on left arm extended to side: forward
* Overhead hoop: to the left
2) Do this on a flat surface, with stable footwear. Trust me. Even a fraction of weirdness about the ground or the sole of your shoes can impact your ability to balance on one base foot — which has to support a body rotating crazy amounts of objects.
3) Can I see you begin and end the move? This video from a 2011 tour I did with Los Stratjackets has a good example of entering and exiting the move. To break down the exit: I hold the hand hoops in the left hand, pop the foot hoop to the right hand and then pass that to the left, step back into the knee hoop with my right foot and then out onto my left, and grab the remaining hoop in my bent right knee where I can reach it with my right hand. (Confusing words; just watch end of the video). This footage also shows the hoop slipping off my foot at the beginning of the move, which reminds me to say: Just keep going! Miss something? Nail it the second time. Third maximum — then, move on. But don’t let it phase you. The crowd is still with you.
Have YOU nailed the 4-hoop box split? Show off! Post a video or photo of yourself in the comments. Want to give a shout out to your favorite hoop teacher? Put that in the comments, too. Have a question for the next Ask Revolva? Click here to submit a question for future columns.
Revolva serves as an unlicensed advice columnist in her spare time, for free. If you like her articles, feel free to donate $1, $5 or $100K to her ability to keep producing her own, non-client funded work, using the button below. Or visit the Revolva Rock Store and support an independent artist by buying a pair of space pants!Follow Revolva
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