September 2010 Archives

Spin Matsuri 2010

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Spin Matsuri is just around the corner! 14 more sleeps!! We have a great lineup of instructors, activities, and workshops this year. Check out this schedule:

Opening Ceremony with Heather Saturday at 16:00 Introduce yourself with flair, add to the intentions altar, shout a hoop hooray and snap a memorial photo.

Rock Your Hoops – Playful Sequences with Deanne Saturday at 16:30
Explore some cool and funky hoop dance sequences to use on stage or in practice.

Spin Party - Your Hoop Character! Saturday at 8pm
Create your hooping character. We’ll have rocking tunes, you bring your hoops and dance moves!

Spin Party Performances Saturday at 9pm
Show your talent with a song, dance, poem, joke or any sort of spinning arts.

Morning Yoga with Shanel Sunday at 7:30
A good start to the day to warm you up for a day of movement.

Hoopy Loopy Happiness with the La La Sisters Sunday at 9:30
Play hula hoop games that you can use as icebrekers at events and for fun in classes.

Integrating Dance Into Hoopdance with Caroleeena Sunday at 11:15
Add grace and movement to your hooping whether you are a beginner or a pro.

Poi Basics and Flowers with Yuta Sunday at 15:00
Spin a new toy and make patterns in time and space.

World Hoop Day Dance with Tink Sunday at 16:45
Learn a dance and make a video to celebrate an international charity event .

Chill Night Sunday 8-10pm
* Yoga Stretch - relax your body after a long day with a yoga stretch lead by Shanel
* Mandala Creation - help to make a beautiful circular artwork for our closing ceremony
* Costume Workshop - bring a t-shirt and learn how to remake and embellish it into a costume
* Theta Healing - mini sessions to heal your spirit and put you on a forward path with Tomoko
* World Hoop Day - 1000 yen buys a hoop for a child who needs some fun.
* Hoop Jam - for those who haven’t had enough spinning

Free Market Sunday 8-9:30pm
Spin market shopping! Accessories, hoops, and more.

Rhythmic Gymnastics: Hoop and Ribbon with Naomi Monday at 9:00
Style your hoop movements the gymnastic way - and get a taste of the flowing ribbon, too.

How to Flow with Ayumi Monday at 10:45
Ayumi from Hoop Tokyo shares her flowing hoop dance style.

Closing Ceremony with Heather Monday at 12:15

If you're keen to come, three-day retreat tickets are available through Wednesday 9/29. We also have one-day tickets for the Sunday 10/10 (World Hoop Day!) activities. And for a very limited time, you can win a ticket to Spin Matsuri. Tweet your 140 character reason for coming to spinmatsuri before Monday at 5pm. Check out all the details and get y our ticket at

World Hoop Day Dance


For the last few weeks, I've been playing with something I'm really excited about. I wanted to try choreographing a hoop dance. So this is it. I've had great feedback and suggestions from hoopers online and had several chances to try it out with my local hooping friends. Thanks to all of them, it's a pretty good dance.

Since I like big projects and bringing communities together, I decided this was going to be a dance that could be done by any hooper on the planet to celebrate World Hoop Day on 10/10/10. It's suitable for beginners who are eager to practice and for experienced hoopers who can add their own style, variations, and charm to the moves.

I've kept the dance steps bold and simple so they look great when there are lots of people doing them in a group. They are mostly off-body tricks with smooth transitions and there are lots of "catch up points" in case you misspin or lose the beat. All of the moves can be learned in about an hour.

There are a few interesting tricks, like Ole (which I should rename Oops, since it is the one where I threw my hoop onto the train tracks), and the Full Body Isolations. If you need help learning these moves or any of the others, shout out and I'll try to find or film a tutorial for you.

So hoop friends near and far, here's the real plan: learn this dance and dance it with your hoop group on World Hoop Day, October 10th. Film it, put the video online somewhere, then send me the link. After WHD, I'll compile a video of all of us dancing this together! If you want to declare your commitment, you can sign the roll call at PledgeBank .

In addition to the video tutorial above, there are printable notes on the moves with counts, lyric cues, and alternates.

And an iPod version of the video (18MB m4v) for your rehearsal convenience!! (and with correct link now, thanks!)


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Haruna Sunrise
Sunrise over Haruna

I was dying for an interlude between projects, so we booked two nights in the mountains of Gunma to relax. As it turned out, it wasn't very relaxing at all for various reasons.

We started out after lunchtime on Thursday and missed the last bus to Haruna from the Takasaki train station. Tod was in tears as I was trying to stay calm and relatively positive. Fortunately we found a bus that got us about halfway along the 60 minute trip and the hotel rescued us at the terminal in Muroda. Thank you, Agatsuma Sou staff!

Once we were there, it was refreshing to breathe the fresh air and see perfectly blue skies, freshly rain-sprung mushrooms, flitting butterflies and gorgeous green trees. Haruna was once a very large volcano which has gone through several cycles of erupting and reforming itself. Today it has both a crescent-shaped caldera lake and a new cone. It's awesomely picturesque.

Stopping to smell the flowers

We filled our days with a lot of activity. On Friday, we circumnavigated the lake on foot, took a kitchy tourist lake cruise, rode the ropeway to the top of Haruna and hiked around the peak a little, rented a rowboat for half an hour so I could work my upper body after our long walk and simultaneously enjoy a beer on the lake, took a lot of baths and ate too much.

Saturday hiking route from hotel to park

On Saturday after breakfast, we decided to check out the exposed rocks on the mountain near our hotel. The cartoon map we'd picked up at the tourist center said it was about a 20 minute hike. Seemed reasonable, even with a migraine messing up my balance and vision. It was a pretty simple walk up through the forest to the rocks. The view over the lake was lovely and once there we opted to continue hiking - only another 800 meters to the next spot on the map. Doable. When we looked more carefully at our tourist map later, that spot, Kamon-ga-take, is the tallest mountain in the area.

Mountain hiking with migraine. What am I thinking?

Three hours later after several near misses on the trail, a bit of short temperage, and some mountain peak yoga, we slid our way out of the well-blazed, excessively steep, muddy, short but seldom used side trail that lead to a park we'd visited the day before. We washed out hands and feet, Tod rescued a butterfly from the museum/atelier, and we went off to have lunch. Only my head hurt so much that I couldn't eat. So we collected out bags, got an ice cream and set back to Tokyo on the bus we'd missed on Thursday.

We'll be back to Haruna when the lake freezes over and the ice-karting season starts.

Deanne and Masao's wedding weekend

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Congratulations, Deanne and Masao, on your wonderful weekend of celebrations.

The Kira Kira Circus at Inokashira Park brought together scores of well-wishers, including about 80% of my Japan-based friends. We costumed up in sparkly clothes and bright colors, gorged ourselves on popcorn, danced and hooped in the center ring, played with a parachute, had our bodies painted, kissed the bride at the kissing booth, and laughed the afternoon into an energetic frenzy. Sarah got some great photos of the circus picnic.

Sunday was the ceremony at FAB. The bride wore a simple outfit: white lace body stockings layered under a lace covered top and tap pants, with white boots, lace-encrusted spats and knee pad, a lace choker and a tall feather headpiece. An organdy over skirt with Polonaise draping and Japanese obi completed the ensemble. The entire outfit was covered in hundreds of clear Swarovski crystals applied by the bride herself. The groom wore a silver-grey suit with a mesh and lace shirt studded with crystals.

It was not a traditional wedding, by any stretch of the traditional imagination. The processional music was a live operatic version of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance by Akiko; the officiant was Guy, a professional vaudeville clown who performed magic, played a tune on the saw and kept the ceremony moving along with lots of laughs and help from his translation partner and beautiful assistant, Kana. The usual ring exchange was replaced by partner hooping. There was no veil to be lifted, but Kike dramatically removed the overskirt so that Deanne could hoop and dance. Later in the day, we enjoyed a burlesque fan dance by Cheery Typhoon and a dance number by Diana and Miki. And (of course) Deanne did a hoop performance, even though she did say it was her day off...

There were readings and speeches at the wedding - likely the most traditional part of the whole day - and every one of them was an original. We heard a welcome speech by Masao's father; two amazing poems from Jonathan and Melissa; the e-mail where Masao confided to his friend Maurice that he'd met a girl; a funny rant from Leila who couldn't make it.

I did a reading, too. Deanne and Masao are positive and fresh people but most wedding readings are stale and negative, so I wrote a piece that reflects things that they believe in. It also had to be something that I could recite without crying. This is it:

The marriage of two people reveals an unexpected third being. You are still your familiar, individual selves and you now are also part of Deanne-and-Masao.

Deanne-and-Masao is the sum of Deanne plus Masao. It is all the interactions that make up your life together. It is the energy that you create and the feelings that you have for each other.

Deanne-and-Masao is fluid. It ebbs and surges like the tides. It flows to meet love. It expands and changes shape as you grow.

Deanne-and-Masao exists in the present moment. It lives for here and now, and it accepts everything as it comes.

Deanne-and-Masao offers astonishing freedom. It gives you all the space you need for exploration. Anywhere you wander, Deanne-and-Masao always guides you back when you're ready.

Deanne-and-Masao is uplifted by love, compassion and caring. It draws on your generous spirits, and on the affection of friends, family and loved ones.

Along with everyone here today I wish both of you, and Deanne-and-Masao, a gorgeous, bountiful, and energized life together!

[P.S. Yes, online friend, you have my permission to read this at your wedding. If you want to give credit, I'm Kristen McQuillin.]

Tod shot a 45 minute video of the whole ceremony (strong, steady hands!), but technical difficulties are hounding us. I'll post it soon.

The weekend was so full of smiles and love that I'm a little sad it's over. But I am looking forward to the next huge event that we create together.

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