Transformational Hoop Dance

Welcome to Shapeshifter Hoop Dance!! Change is inevitable. Change is all around us. Ghandi advised us to 'Be the Change you wish to see in the world.' So how about not just being the change you want to see externally, but becoming the force that moves your own being. Instead of allowing external forces to shake and shape you. Find the flow in yourself and follow that rhythm. SHIFT YOUR OWN SHAPE. And while your at it, pick up a hoop and come dance with us! Or not. Just do whatever else rocks your world! Thanks for stopping by!

SHAPE. CHANGE. SHIFT. TRANSFORM. HOOP. MOVE. DANCE. FLOW. SHAPE. STEP. SHIFT. FOCUS. HOOP. BALANCE. DANCE. TRANSCEND. SHAPE. CONNECT. SHIFT. EMPOWER. HOOP. HARMONIZE. DANCE. DELIGHT. SHAPE. BREATHE. SHIFT. CREATE. HOOP. ENLIVEN. DANCE. ESCAPE. SHAPE. INTEGRATE. SHIFT. CENTER. HOOP. HOPE. DANCE. DREAM. SHAPE. RADIATE. SHIFT. VIBRATE. HOOP. GROW. DANCE. AWAKEN.
Desert path
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Ke'e Beach
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Desert Healing


Somehow a few years slipped by without any updates to my site. First my life was just busy. Busy with new hoop gigs and retreats. I even traveled to the other side of the globe to attend the Sacred Circularities Hoop Retreat in 2014.

Soon after my life was severely disrupted by the beginnings of acute environmental illness in the form of serious hyper sensitivity to electromagnetic fields (AKA ‘EHS’ short for ‘Electro Hyper Sensitivity’) and severe sensitivity/reactivity to chemicals including fragrances (AKA ‘MCS’ for ‘Multiple Chemical Sensitivity’). EHS and MCS are basically two sides of the same illness, a hyper sensitivity to man made environmental toxins.

I don’t care for labels typically and I had tried at first to distance myself from categorizing the physical pain I was in. I didn’t want to placed into a category, open to judgment and labeling. However ultimately I had to use these labels in order to explain my condition to others. EI (another label, one for Environmental Illness that encompasses disorders like MCS and EHS) is a disability. And I have found it in fact to be incredibly disabling. Trying to live in a world when you suddenly become ‘allergic’ (only easy way to describe it) to Wifi, cell phones, and cell towers (to name a few sources of triggers for my symptoms) is more than disabling. It’s near to impossible.

I first tried to cope. Tried a lot of alternative medicines and devices all purporting to cure my disorder. But the only thing that ever seemed to help was to get away from it. When we went camping in the woods in Shenandoah national park where there were no radio frequencies or even electricity, I felt 100 percent better. I felt like myself again. I felt at peace and happy. And most importantly I felt free from debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches, migraines, chest pain, electrical shock waves in my hands and arms (mainly just when touching cell phones and some other electronic devices) difficulties sleeping, concentrating, speaking, etc.

Half a year passed with my symptoms getting worse. It seemed the only thing to do was to try and find a place away from everything that was making me feel so terrible. Fortunately I have had a loving partner on my journey who agreed to relocate with me. We searched at first close to home thinking there must be a place outside of the city that would work. But it turned out that every mile there was another cell tower and houses had smart meters and chemical fumes or molds or were simply unaffordable. We broadened our search to include other states finally honing in on the South West and on Arizona. We found others with the same condition living in this part of the country, improving in their health as a result. And although the same EMF pollution exists from the wireless industry in this part of the country, with the lower population density and larger wilderness areas, there are some places left free of RF (radio frequency) interference (otherwise known as a ‘white zone’).

I have always preferred seaside places, my love of the ocean and water in general being great. So transitioning to the harshness of the desert landscape hasn’t been easy but it’s been rewarding. In an unlikely place such as the wilderness area we have found to call home (for now at least) I have found relief and healing.

More than relief from my current EI (Environmental Illness) I have been able to get more in touch with other inner needs that weren’t getting met in the fast paced, noisy, overcrowded, polluted city. I have found relief from the distractions of crowds, traffic, shopping malls, ‘night life’, and all of the techno gadgets, the new toys of our modern age (toys I have discovered that can have devastating consequences to health and our mental well being, but more on that another time).

Here I can truly connect with myself and nature. I have space for contemplation and rest. And also space to connect with other energies, the more subtle ones found in the nature world. Ones I am free to connect with now that louder man made energies are out of the way.

It’s been a difficult journey. I have been forced to make extreme changes. Pain was my motivator. So often we seem to need something drastic, something painful in order to change. I wish it wasn’t this way. That I could make positive changes for myself without having to be forced into in this manner. But I think this is typical of human nature. That we are mainly only motivated to really take action when our hand is forced.

I have been in the desert a year and have learned so many things, I can’t begin to relate them all here now. But I wanted to finally begin. To reach out and share my story. And with this disruption it has taken time to reorganize and pick up where I left off with my hoop practice. I had, with the help of my partner, Sam (a brilliant film/video maker) started creating a lot of fun videos, but haven’t posted any of them yet as they remain unfinished, waiting for us to be more settled and have more time to devote.

I am hopeful that I will be able to share some more videos with you soon. In the meantime I will be working on posting ‘new’ photos (from the last few years when I wasn’t able to post). So please stay tuned. I haven’t forgotten you!

PS- In these photos I am wearing a new pair of ballet slipper style moccasins from ‘Into the Wild Way’ an amazing shop I found on Etsy. Just loving them! Ordered another pair in a different style, coming soon. (See link for the shop and website in my links section sidebar). Also really helpful for grounding which has been one of the things that has helped with my electro sensitivity the most!


Shapeshifter

Coming soon to a Youtube near you! ZOMBIE CATWOMAN!

ZOMBIE CATWOMAN rises from the dead and discovers a hoop dance! Coming soon! This video is set to be ‘off the chain’ or cat leash. :)

This past Spring and Summer, no wait, AND Autumn. Okay any remotely warm, above freezing temperature weather in 2013 has meant hooping outside to awesome live music for this hoop dancer. The Takoma Park Folk Fest and Street Fest, The Greenbelt Blues Fest, The Green Man Fest, The Greenbelt Rhythm and Drum Fest to name a few. Add to that weekly drum jams in Takoma Park and in Malcolm X park plus a weekend down in North Carolina for the Hoop Path intensive retreat and starring in a music video for the Walking Sticks Band (see video page) and various performances (see performance page), makes for one happy hooper!

Thanks to Jay Ohlmacher and Jim Atkinson for the excellent photos.

EMERGENCE and SHIFTING

It’s been quite a while since I have posted anything. I thought that it would be good timing as we approach this year’s WORLD HOOP DAY on 12/12/12.  2012 has been a year of emergence for me as an artist both for my hoop dance and my music. (I am a fairly new singer/songwriter.) In 2012 I have performed for kids shows at the famous National Theater in downtown DC and at Jamm’n Java in Vienna, VA. I also could be seen out and about at various street and music festivals in town, such as the Takoma Park Folk Festival and this year’s Figment DC at Naval Yards waterfront. I had a solo act for the first ever Takoma Cabaret (now an ongoing monthly event) at El Golfo restaurant in Sliver Spring and was invited back for another show. In addition to these venues I made an effort to make it out to Meridian Hill (aka Malcolm X) park in DC for the weekly Sunday drum circles and can currently be found hooping it up at our local Wednesday night Drum Circle Jam at the Electric Maid in Takoma Park, hosted by the amazing percussionist Katy Gaughan, as well as some local fire spin jams and a weekly hoop jam in Mt Rainier hosted by the amazing ‘Hooping Powers’. If all of that hasn’t kept me busy enough I found time to add about 10 more songs to my ever growing song collection, play out at various open mics (and also at the Takoma Cabaret) and am currently in the process of recording my first demo CD.  All this emergence has not come easily and may have actually come about because of the shifting energies I have been experiencing within myself during this past year. So much inner work going on and so much upheaval. It’s been very trying at times but ultimately rewarding and healing. I know many others have been experiencing personal shifts in their inner lives and have also had the experience of this energy forcing it’s way out into artistic expression. It’s as if the need for outlet of these energies has been so powerful it’s been pushing it’s way out by any means necessary. It’s felt like something beyond ourselves, greater than the individual. At times an outlet but at other times it’s felt like a channel of outer energies moving inward. This past month or so has been particularly intense for many people I know including myself. So many questions about our purpose, our life path. Revisiting old wounds or stories that aren’t serving us anymore. Throwing out the old baggage, unburdening and releasing. Shedding what needs to be shed. Emerging so that we can be ready for the start of a whole new calendar, a whole new way of being. I have been meditating on this shift during my hoop practice these days. The words, ‘shift, channel, emerge, open, flow..’ have allowed me to let go more during my practice and allowed my body to move more freely, more easily, holding on less, trusting more, trusting a power greater than myself to move through me and in doing so transform me. My hope is that we can all allow and trust this shift and grow in light, love, beauty and peace for 2013. Let’s all  SHAPE-SHIFT into the new year!

UPCOMING PERFORMANCES

COME SEE SHAPESHIFTER AT THE NATIONAL THEATER IN WASHINGTON DC.
SATURDAY MARCH 24TH FOR TWO KIDS’ SHOWS AT 9.30 AND 11.00
ADMISSION IS FREE. PERFORMING ALONG SIDE FRANK CASSEL THE BANJO BAN.
SEE- http://nationaltheatre.org/saturday/saturday.htm

ALSO PERFORMING AT JAMM’IN JAVA ON SATURDAY APRIL 7TH. AT 11 AM.

At Peace with Pele

My first day in Kauai after my Big Island adventures and dancing on fire for Pele I went exploring. I drove north to the ‘end of the road’ (literally the ‘highway,’ a two laned road) which basically dead ended at this beach. Ke’e beach sits serenely next to the beginning of the majestic Na Pali cliffs. (‘Na Pali’ means ‘the cliffs’ so even though Na Pali cliffs is redundant it is commonly referred to this way.)

It was almost evening by the time I arrived and seeing all the beautiful white sand with the cliffs right there, well I just had to hoop! And hoop I did, all over the beach, splashing in the water. A lot of tourists stopped to take photos and video I think. But I was just in my own hoop universe (or ‘hoopiverse’ as some hoopers playfully call it). Sheer bliss. I just took a very quick dip after my dance as I was trying to heed all of the danger signs along the beach in re. to deadly currents and the like. I did see some others in the water snorkel spear fishing it looked like. But I heard afterward that it is not safe to swim at that beach, esp. in winter, as even though the waters can appear to be very calm, there is a large key hole in the reef there through which a very strong current has sucked out a number of tourists into the ocean beyond never to return.

I also discovered later reading my guide book that this beach is where legend has it that Pele had a house where she lived with her lover a chief (forgot his name). I later found I had been given the ‘Pele’ room at my guest house with a painting of her rising up out of the volcano on the wall and everything decorated in firey reds.

So it seems I just couldn’t get away from Pele, which was all right by me.

Hot Lava Hooping!

I told everyone before leaving for Hawaii that I was going to get a photo of myself fire hooping with hot lava in the background. I really did not know if it would be at all possible, so I had made the declaration half joking, half hoping. Well my dream somehow came true through a series of serendipitous events. All I can say is that Pele must have wanted it to be and so it was.

It was not my only goal (to fire hoop with lava) on my trip however it did end up being a definite high light of the trip. It was in fact a much longed for vacation that finally came to pass. I got to visit the Big Island and Kauai. Both were amazing in different ways. But I will get into that later, maybe in another post.

With this image of hooping by the lava in my head I did pack the necessary gear for the trip. Collapsible hoops and ‘quick wicks’ (courtesy of Max Reid, thank you Max!) as well as a ‘duvetene’ safety blanket and then I bought the camping fuel and lighter once I arrived. This all came in handy not just for the lava hoop session but for some fire performances I did for the hosts and guests at the different places I stayed. (Too bad it didn’t pay for my lodgings!)

So when it came time during my visit to the Big Island to find the lava I had to first visit Volcanoes National Park (where one would assume the lava would be.. right? Wrong! The lava changes it’s mind about where it wants to go daily, nay hourly, well really by the minute.. though fortunately it doesn’t move all that fast so it usually gives ample time for one to get out of its way, that is unless you step on soft rock that has lava flowing under it that you can’t see..) So sometimes it flows in the park and sometimes not. This was one of the ‘not’ occasions, which meant driving about two hours away to find the flow. Which I did, only to discover that the flow that evening was a good ways away from the end of the road (the road ‘ended’ because lava decided to go over it.. now it is miles of lava fields between both ends of the road on either side, which I visited (both ends of the road), and it takes about 2 hrs. to get from one side to the other as you basically have to go up and down a mountain to get around the lava part). So I could just make out glowing embers in the distance that could only be lava. I was disappointed, not just about not being able to fire hoop with it showing behind me (which was my original idea btw, I had not intended to get so close, but I didn’t know it was the only way to actually get the lave to show up in the photo since it does not typically flow in the grandiose manner I had imagined) since I wasn’t sure I was going to be permitted to actually fire hoop (and so was really just scoping out the situation) but because I honestly wanted to see lava. I mean, I had never seen lava before in real life. I mean, have you? It’s not like something you get to see every day.. unless of course you live on an island with an active volcano like these folks did.

Still it was fascinating, these seemingly endless lava fields. So barren and desolate looking, yet somehow beautiful and enchanting. It was true, as a friend had told me who had seen this place, it looked and felt somewhat like being on the moon, or what one would imagine it would feel like to be on the moon (since I have yet to hoop on the moon.. that would be something! Not a bad idea.. maybe I could start looking into that as my next ‘hoop stunt’! LOL!.. Joking.. or am I?)

What I couldn’t understand was seeing houses built on the lava, just beyond the ropes to contain the tourists and just past the end of the road. What were they doing out there? Were these people crazy or did they just wanted a better view of the lava flow? Turns out for the most part they had owned the once lush jungle like land prior to the lava deciding to come, well destroy it all in one nasty firey flow. Some bits of houses could still be seen melted into black lava rock. Even a BBQ pit was melted fast on top of a black chunk of rock, out in a sea of more black rock that sometimes looked like pieces of charcoal so that I felt like a little ant walking across it all …once I did get to (which I am getting to soon, I promise!) go out there. So these people, still owning the land, figured lightning can’t strike twice in one place, right? Right?! Well, with lava, one never knows.. but they hope and they keep a watchful eye out for it. It seemed like a creature, the lava, the way people spoke of it. Where is it today? What’s it up to? What’s it doing? Where is it going? How fast, how big? How close to my house! Some of the re-builders just stuck with basic shack like structures (which is probably what I would do, I mean, why invest?) but then others spent a pretty penny on their homes. One cost over 100 grand  so I heard.
Well it certainly reminds one of the temporary nature of life. And the lava… out there, creating, destroying, creating, destroying….

So I went back from the viewing station down that long empty dark road back to the car. Near the parking lot some booths were up. Some tour guides promising to take you out over the, at times very unstable, lava rock fields to see the lava up close and personal. Fifty dollars for about a 3 hr. roundtrip hike. And almost 200 to do the boat tour which allows you to see the lava flow right into the sea. Something I definitely wanted to see, but 200? Then I saw a photographer’s stand. Displaying countless beautiful images of the lava. Looking at these photos made me really come to see the lava as a creature, a force. It was pictured in all it’s ‘habitats’ as it were, different times of day, different locations, destroying different things (like burning up entire forests) and jumping into the sea in such a way that you would swear it had a spirit to it. Animated for sure. And then huge chucks of lava rock collapsing and jumping into the now boiling sea water with it.  Amazing.

I got to talking to the talented photographer and because of my photo background we got to talking shop for awhile. While I was talking to him and after having seen that the flow was way out there, it occurred to me that I would need someone to take this photo that I wanted for me. No longer would mounting my camera a top my car and pushing the self timer button work. There was nowhere I could put my camera besides possibly hot lava rock ground nor did I feel confident to make that trek out there on my own. So I gave it a shot, let Leigh Hilbert, the photographer, know what I was hoping to do. He seemed interested, but not committedly so. It took some convincing. I offered to pay but he refused my money. And in the end (actually after calling and pestering him the next day) he agreed to take me to the lava AND take photos AND video! I was so excited!
I couldn’t believe this was really going to happen. We headed out for the lava the next night (since I only had two nights left on the island) me with my hoop coiled around my torso, my fuel which I had poured into a smaller more portable container for the hike, my washed out can of spagettios I had found in the recycling bin in which to pour the fuel  so I could dip my wicks, my duvatene cloth, lighter and flashlight. I was set, and Leigh with his usual camera bag and tripod.

He walked ahead of me sure footed and quick, having done this trek for about 10 years already! I, on the other hand was a bit slower, as I was concerned about what I had read in my guide book about possibly falling into the lava under the softer rock. Some rock was softer and made an interesting crunching noise as we walked across it, some was quite hard, some sandy, and some sharp and had the consistency of little pieces of glass. Some did in fact have orange red hot lava flowing and glowing under it some layers beneath which you could see shining through the cracks as you walked over.  And above which you could smell and feel the hot noxious gases being emitted. These were the bits that worried me. I had to ask Leigh to slow down a few times since I wanted to walk where he was walking, since I knew he knew where to walk and not and I could see that he had not fallen through. THAT was reassuring. However the thought went through my mind that it could mean that he had further loosened possibly unstable rock to the extent that all it needed was another set of feet on it (mine) in order to cause it to collapse.

So it was about an hour walk out there this way, till we got to a decent outbreak. Not totally amazing but decent enough to try our photo shoot in front of. Leigh called this our practice run anyway. If it went well we would come back for a dawn shot. Which we did and which happened to be only a few hours later as it turned out. But the lack of sleep was totally worth it. It was all worth it. Being out there in this windy eerily beautiful place and getting to fire hoop feeling the heat from the lava at my back, the temperate night island air blowing away, stars overhead.. totally unforgettable. And now I have a scar to remind me in case I forget. Pele, the goddess of the volcano and protector of the islands made sure of that. She branded me. Gave me a little flash of fire on my arm to show me whose boss. Well it was from my hoop. But I had never been burned by it before. And this was a nasty burn. Blisters, then puss, then blood, then new skin, a scab, the works. But I wasn’t bothered at all, knowing that it was simply my initiation mark. Leigh had been initiated too. His first night out on there 10 years ago, he stumbled onto some lava and got burned. But never again since. And he said that Pele also grants you with gifts. Gifts for dancing my fire dance in Her honor. It WAS in Her honor too. It felt that way. I felt the spirit of the lava and that place with me during my dance both that night and in the morning. At dawn we found a bigger outbreak that was really flowing and the heat from it I could feeling burning my fresh burn and I swear nearly melted my hoop. It was so intense. None of the rock surrounding us was cool as it had been at night (which was why I was able to do a couple of bare footed shots). I ended up using my fire safety  (shh!) to put my backpack on so it wouldn’t melt into the rock. And still my stuff was nearly melting when we finished our shoot and my flash light had stopped working.

We weren’t far from the point at which the lava dances it’s dance down to the sea so Leigh said he would take me to see it but when we came to a point maybe 500 ft. away he said that if we continued past that point we were taking a chance that the lava rock, the ground beneath our feet, could all collapse from under us into the sea as well. He could tell it was getting close to giving way.  So we made it a brief visit and stayed a safe distance away from the boiling water and toxic gases. And I have my photo to prove it thanks to Leigh.

The rest of my Hawaii trip was fantastic in its own right, but this was otherworldly. Thanks again Leigh! And thank you Pele!

Hooping in Hawaii!


Ahhh Hawaii. At last. I had dreamed of coming here most of my life and finally managed it. Was very difficult to pull myself away after my two weeks. First week on the Big Island and Second on Kauai. I hooped daily and fire hooped on several occasions as well. Swimming, kayaking, diving, boating, snorkeling, hooping and eating fish every day.. Tropical fruits and swimming with sea turtles, dolphins and whales jumping out of the water by our boat. Could not ask for more. Except there WAS more!
I got to revisit with my mentor Anah AKA Hoopalicious as my trip happened to over lap with another mentor retreat she was hosting on Kauai. I was kindly invited to hoop with her and local hoop goddess Skylar along with Anah’s mother Fran (AKA ‘Mamalicious’) and her hoop partner Rayna and a few hoopers from the workshop at their last hoop jam on the island. Fantastic times!

On Fire for the New Year

What better way to start 2011 than to set myself on fire?! I can’t think of a better one!

Just after 12 am on January 1, 2011 I lighted up my fire hoop and put on a little fire show for my family in their driveway. Not sure what the neighbors thought but they were setting off some fireworks so I fit right into the scenery.

Goals for the New Year:

Continue playing with Fire.

Fire

Fire

Practice and perfect new hoop techniques.

Start up hoop classes in my neighborhood (Takoma Park) to share what I have learned with ya’ll.

Undergo physical, spiritual and emotional transformations.

Undertake fascinating journeys in above mentioned categories.

Break old destructive patterns and replace them with constructive ones.

So, off with the OLD, on with the NEW, and INTO THE HOOP!!

Full of Fire

Lots of ‘hoop love’ and ‘hoopiness’ to all for 2011! YEAH! HOOP HOOP HORRAY!

Keep Your Fire Burning Bright!

Fire for Book Release Party!

No, we weren’t burning books, I promise! On December 18th, My long time friend Kathy Cottle had a book release party for her newly published book; ‘Halfway’ (see side link for further info). I had promised to try out my very newly acquired fire hooping skills for the event. It was of course quite cold and I had to be sure not to wear any flammable clothing, so a little good old Value Village thrift store rummaging awarded  me with the leather top and pants that kept me warm enough what with the flames spinning around me and all (which gave me a distinct advantage over my audience who braved the elements for the show). In spite of the weather and trying to fire hoop on a slanted driveway, it was all and all quite fun and a great way to get some practice in!

Thanks Kathy for hosting and Jen for the photos! (video to follow)