September 2009 Archives

Exaggeration and Embellishment

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What makes a costume different from street clothes? I've been exploring this idea for Spin Matsuri, where I will be leading a costume workshop. "Exaggeration and embellishment" is my answer to the question.

Garment shapes are exaggerated by making them more of what they'd normally be: wider collars, puffier sleeves, shorter skirts, longer gloves. Shapes can also be exaggerated by accenting the garment line through fabric choices and construction methods.

Color tends to be more saturated in costumes than in street clothes. If you want the audience to see pastel pink under bright lights, it can't be pastel, it has to be a true pink. In hooping, we often play in darker settings or in natural lighting conditions rather than theatrical stage lighting, so this is a consideration. Pale colors show up nicely against LED hoops and in the twilight. In the sunlit day, street colors are sufficient.

Embellishments are almost essential. Bigger is better and more is good. Costumes can drip embellishments in ways that would look weird on street clothes; multiple rows of sequins, braid, & ribbon suit a costume where one alone would be enough in ready-to-wear. Trims enhance shapes, too, giving definition to a cuff, bodice or leg. Size plays a part. A costume uniform will have gold braid much wider than any real life general's. Big spangles, huge rhinestones and oversize applique read well from the audience. Embellishment can also be done with unusual materials - paint, glitter, glue, markers, felt- to cover larger areas quickly.

My Spin Matsuri workshop focuses on simple, no-sew costumes using exaggeration and embellishment. I've figured out how to take a long sleeved t-shirt and with a few snips make a three piece costume set of skirt, crop top, and gauntlets. There are a few other designs to share, too. I have an abundance of glitter glue, markers, ribbons, scraps of fabric, odds and ends of trimming, plus spray paint and stencils ready to use. Get your imagination going while the hot melt heats up!

One thing I won't have much of at the workshop is time - it is sandwiched into an hour between dinner and the glow party on Saturday evening, so I wanted to share this bit costume philosophy now, while I have some time to think. Maybe I will be able to explain it more succinctly to the people who come in to make costumes that evening.

(After Spin Matsuri, I'll post my "one t-shirt, three piece costume set" tutorials.)

Now, the power of Goddesses


Suddenly in my life there is an unbidden focus on enlightenment. Everywhere I turn, some new clue is waiting for me to discover it. Stars are shining brightly. People who might guide me are falling into my path. Something is sending me a message.

It started a couple of weeks ago, when I found a copy of Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now next to the bed. I have no idea how it got there, but I picked it up and read it. Normally I avoid self-help books - my judgmental and logical brain thinks they are mostly bunkum that doesn't apply to me. But bloody hell, this one turned my brain inside out. It was still a lot of bunkum, but there's something to it.

[If you haven't read it, I can quickly summarise: There is nothing you can do in the past and nothing to be gained by worrying about the future. All you have is what is right here, right now. You are not your life circumstances: job, relationships, finances, home, health, intellect. Nor are you the labels your brain and ego give you: cynic, clever, childlike, conservative, crafty, curmudgeon. The real you is underneath the labels and the circumstances; you are a deep and primal source of energy and power. There is an analogy in the book that I liked a lot: the real you is a deep ocean beneath the waves and ripples of your life circumstance.]

I found these ideas powerful. Maybe my lightweight belief system resonates somehow. I don't know. Regardless, my head spins with the truth I see in this book.

Within a fortnight of reading the book, a passel of new women stepped into my circle. They seem different than other people I know. Blissful. Doing things they love. Radiating joy. Not really getting stressed out by anything. It's quite remarkable. I am used to chats full of grumble and gossip, not talk of love and peace and practice. They are all very present, these goddesses. Good things come to them. They bring happiness to others.

It makes me highly uncomfortable.

Today I don't know who I am. Who can I be? I like the goddesses a lot. Could I be one, too? My ego screams "What will happen to me?!" in a hundred different ways, throwing up hurdles and demanding answers. Will I still want to do things or will I end up like Eckart Tolle, just sitting blissfully present on a park bench for a couple of years? Can you be enlightened and continue to enjoy cooking, walking, making clothes, cuddling, and hooping? Will I lose my judgment and discrimination so that everything becomes equally good? Will my opinions fade away? Do enlightened people make travel plans? Will being present mean I am always late for meetings?

Tod seems to get it. His eyes shine when I ramble about this confusion I feel. He encourages me to let go and just be. It is the scariest thing I will ever do, if I can do it.

Weekend Warrior, Hoop Style

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Me hooping in costume for World Hoop Day. (photo by Greg)

In the late 70s my parents, in an unusual show of judgmental speech, mocked the neighbors and friends who would overdo it with athletics on the weekends. "The weekend warriors are at it again," they'd say as we passed by any league game. Former football players turned desk jockeys, these middle aged guys would go to the playing field and give it their all. Afterward they found themselves cramped, injured and exhausted from too much enthusiasm for the game combined with too little fitness.

I think I might be a weekend warrior. Even though I hoop frequently even during the week, my body is complaining after two days of intense activity. My finger joints ache, my back is creaky and I am plum tuckered out. But I am so happy that our weekend was successful. Maybe that's how the Weekend Warriors of my childhood felt, too.

And a funny thing happened on my way to World Hoop Day yesterday. I was standing on the train with 11 hoops and a cart full of toys, popcorn and prizes when something dropped at my feet and hit my shoe. Did something fall off my costume? I looked down. It was a button - the sort of gold-toned shank button that goes on a coat - embossed with an anchor design. Nobody on the train was wearing or carrying anything that looked like it might have lost such a button so I decided it was a magical gift from my father, who would have been 72 yesterday. I think Dad would have enjoyed World Hoop Day, if not for the hooping, then for the enthusiastic smiles and huge fun that we all had. Plus, costumes, theatre and wholesome silliness. That was Dad's kind of thing. Apparently it's my kind of thing, too.

Of course, he would have mocked me for overdoing it weekend warrior style. I'll have to hoop more (lots of more) to get myself in top form to enjoy Spin Matsuri next month without any aches or pains.

A Ton of Hoop Fun Coming this Week

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Where have I been lately? Helping to organise & promote hoop events! Here are a few happening this week. If you have time and are in Tokyo, come along. No hooping experience required!

Alishan Market Day - Saturday, September 5. 2:00 - 4:00pm @ Alishan Organic Center Tracey, Tod & I are taking hoops out to Saitama to give free hoop lessons. Plus, we'll have a delicious lunch at the cafe before we start and check out the fun stuff on sale at the market. I know I'll be coming home with some tasty treats.

World Hoop Day preview in Harajuku! Me, D, Stina and Kana. Photo by Stina

World Hoop Day: Circus Extravaganza! - Sunday, September 6. 1:00 - 4:00pm @ Yoyogi Park I've been preparing for this event for weeks! It's a free afternoon of hooping fun - lessons, games, prizes, face painting. We're collecting donations for World Hoop Day and will send hoops on the Peace Boat to be given to kids around the world. 1000 yen donates a hoop. More info at Hooplovers

Spinning glowing poi at Yoyogi. Photo by John Politowski

World Hoop Day: Glow - Wednesday, September 9. 6:00 - late @ Yoyogi Park 9/9/9 is the global World Hoop Day and we are celebrating by getting into the spin with a glowing hoop jam. LED hoops, glow poi, anything that glows and spins. Come along and enjoy the night. Again, donations for hoops are warmly welcomed.

515 Spin Matsuri meeting

And of course, we are still getting ready for Spin Matsuri October 9-11. There are a few tickets left, so if you were considering a weekend of hoop, poi and dance fun, don't wait to book. We have day passes for Saturday only, too, if you are busy or on a budget.

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