Saturday, February 25, 2006


Just another day in the life of a Professional Hooper.

My knees are still cold, almost two hours after I got out of the rain, and my false eyelashes are impeding my view of the computer screen.

My shoulders hurt, my costume is incredibly muddy, my boots are soaked through, and the hoop with the glowstick necklaces taped all over it is still glowing.

However.. I have a cheque in the pocket of my jacket, made out to me, from Public Dreams, that pays me for the time I performed and facilitated hooping tonight. This was my first paid gig. Woo!

Mountain Mardi Gras was a neat event. It was strange seeing it, in its very first incarnation, from the point of view of a performer rather than a member of the audience or a volunteer. This was the first time I was on the inside of the "green room" area, hearing the five-minute calls and the time-to-go calls of the green room manager, visiting with other performers during the down-time between our sets, and NOT being at the beck-and-call of anyone who needed help from a volunteer, or a volunteer volunteer-coordinator. (yes, that is not a repeat.. for a time, I was an unpaid assistant coordinator of volunteers for Public Dreams)... AND, not having to help with any take-down! I LOVE being a performer!

First set: arrive on first shuttle bus, which is ten minutes late so as I am walking into the green room tent, the performance coordinator is telling me that I'm supposed to be On, Right Now. Drop bags, dump jacket, slide on gloves, and GO GO GO. Ariel, the other hooper, and I were assigned to "animate" the entrance when the gates opened to the public, and to bring them into the Anansi Spider area where much fun and games were to be had. We started hooping 5 or 10 minutes before the gates opened, dancing hard and fast to get warmed up in the gentle wind and light SNOW! I discovered quickly that I had to keep my feet down and avoid any kicky steps, as the heels of my boots were caught frequently in my spiderweb skirt... BAD costume! Hooping around to live performers is also very different than hooping to CDs: performers stop, and chat about what they're going to play next, and leave you kinda hanging there with a hoop spinning around some body part... sad. Audience participation in this zone was slow.. the high point of this shift was having a mom and two daughters lined up working on some vertical hand hooping and behind-the-back passes, with success! And, proving that it takes very little to entertain small children, encouraging them to jump through the hoop (two inches off the ground) was well received.

Second set: accompany Pedal Play procession to a certain area, and animate with hoop dancing and workshopping. Great, no prob. Except.. no one knew where the procession was supposed to begin, so we followed a band out from the green tent, and wound up hooping around them in the middle of a treed area until the performance coordinator found us and got us sorted out. New experience: having three photographers snapping shots of me as I danced.. do I pose? Do I try to smile whenever I'm facing them? Do I stop dancing for the crowd while I dance for the cameras? Tonight, the answer to all of those was "yes". In future, hopefully it won't be. When we got to the area we were supposed to inhabit, after hooping along the path to get there, the people in the crowd now understood what was to happen when I handed them a hoop. There was quickly a mob of hoopers playing around a stilter while avoiding the wacky modified bicycles that were weaving their way through and around us. I actually did not see a single hoop-accident.. will have to check with Ariel to get her confirmation, but this seemed to be the safest crowd I've ever experienced, in terms of understanding what a safe distance might be for those wishing to stand and observe something else. Maybe it is Public Dreams' history of working with fire spinners that has people trained about minimum clearance requirements.

Last set: this wasn't really a requirement, but I wanted to hang around til the end to dance to the DJ from Beats Without Borders, so I plopped myself into the final procession. Darkness had fallen, so my battered rainbow hoop was pressed into service as a glow-hoop, with those cheap glow-necklaces you see at fireworks nights taped around the hoop with clear hockey tape. The silver ribbon of my spiderweb skirt turned out to be wonderfully reflective, too, so I could do less fancy arm moves and relax into twirling and spinning and letting my costume and hoop stun the crowd. (Okay, not stun. Maybe mildly impress...) The nicest thing about doing this set was the positive feedback I received from the performance coordinator, who was actually out in the parade at the head of the band.. "Go Christa! That looks great!" "Awesome, girl!" etc... Immediate, specific.. everything that feedback should be :) The least-nice thing about doing this set was getting to the end of the parade, to where the DJ was supposed to play, and finding out (after ten more minutes of hooping to a somewhat ragged marching band) that they were cancelling the DJ set due to the rain. (total truth: it was due to an important cord being missing from the amplifying gear they rented for the event, BUT, it was starting to piss rain pretty hard anyways, so either reason worked.)

Bus-ride back down to the SeaBus was a neat opportunity for participants of the event to chat with me about the hoops, and again providing more feedback.. once half the busload got off mid-way at a park-and-ride location, I took advantage of the space to change out of my soaked clothing. Stripping down in a bus, in front of people who think of you as a performer, is an interesting experience... they cheered when I took off my top, skirt and pants, but were silent asI changed into dry socks. Odd? Reasonable? Hard to say. Seabus brought a seatmate who I'd re-met on the way into the event, having chatted with her last summer about my hoops while waiting for a bus at Granville Island. Our conversation this time was all about employment, and working your dreams vs working safe... very interesting to be on the OTHER side of this discussion, instead of being the one talking about having dreams but not actually doing anything about them. Still feels good to be where I am right now.

Time to go get rid of the chill, and figure out how to get the false eyelashes off while retaining my real ones. Wish me luck.

Weather: crisply grey, followed by downpour. Brr.

Chai's: two. I managed to be early for Seabus both on the way to and from the event. How nice of Starbucks to now have a store on each side!

Water: tub in the morning, followed by a game of polo with a bunch of teen girls trying to get picked for the national team.. was nice to be able to tell the coach that I preferred LESS playing time so I could conserve my energy for the afternoon of hooping. (also nice to hear that he was trying to make sure I got lots of playing time so it was worth my effort to come out to the game.. how sweet!)

Wardrobe: the easy-to-pack-and-be-dry-and-warm outfit: big fluffy red fleece Modrobes pants, green stretchy longsleeve t, and black fleece Modrobes jacket. I'm so sad their store closed :(

Craft in progress: cream cabled cloche got finished, though ugly and non-wearable in current form.. pattern DID get written down, which is a good thing. Other two sweaters still incomplete, and unstarted... but I found a pair of almost-finished socks that I made with handspun wool, which were waaaaaay too tight to be functional socks, so I'm revamping them to be armlets. Cool colour combo of chartreuse and purple.. not much to go WITH them, but that's okay.

I'm really glad to hear you're pursueing your passions, and off to such a great start. Keep it up... who knows where ti will take you.
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