May 2011 Archives

Another Rainy Shoot

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meiji yukata robes.jpg

This time, I had an umbrella.

The photoshoot in the middle of yet another Sunday downpour was taken by Chel Beeson and will be used on a website for an onsen resort here in Japan. I love my ad hoc modeling gigs. The photos depict me and my mate Phil as a happy couple enjoying a holiday. It's amazing what a smile, a glance and some ridiculous chit chat can do to create an atmosphere. In real life, Phil and I are the godparents of Max Thredgold. We smile in real life, too, but not usually in Japanese garb.

meiji yukata red.jpg

A friend on Facebook recently asked me how I managed to have so many handsome male friends. I hadn't really thought about it because they are my mates, pals, and companions. But she's right. I do have strikingly handsome men in my life and I'm lucky to have gorgeous female friends, too. We should all have modeling careers...

Hooping on an Unknown Beach

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Not an unknown beach at all, but one of my favorites - Habushiura near the campsite on Niijima.

Rainy season began yesterday, the earliest since records began in 1951, and for the next six weeks or more, my hooping activities are going to be limited to classrooms, the carport, and rare sunny days. I am glad to have done a lot of outdoor hooping this spring and thrilled to have this reminder of it.

Plans for Summer 2011


Rainy Robots

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Yesterday I had the honor and joy of helping out with the video shoot for Jesse and Will's song, Hooked on Robots.

The day dawned warm and sunny. There was forecast rain in the late afternoon but it didn't seem likely. I was out and about early in the day and I was already sweating.

Jesse arrived at 10 to put the final touches on the robot costume we started on Friday. We left the house laden with the usual 4th Sunday Spin hoops and my amp, plus Jesse's boombox, the costume, supplies for repairing the costume, and a green screen. We should have brought an umbrella.

The clouds started rolling in around 1. By 1:30 it was plain to see a storm was brewing, but how long would it hold off? We got the robot suited up and I taught all the dancers the choreography before the appointed start time, just in case. Kana, Trine, Nick, Naomi, Reiko, Soness, Yuji, & I ran through the dance over and over until we had it pretty smoothly. I apologise to the wonderful hoopers who turned up on time - we were worried about the weather and started without you.

Since we all had to learn the choreography quickly without the music and only had a few practices to get it right, I shouted it out during each take - up-down-up-center, spin-spin-spin-spin - which made me sound like a hooping drill sergeant, but did keep most everyone in sync. It is challenging to keep hoops perfectly aligned without a huge amount of rehearsal and I think we rocked the robotics as best we could. Certainly we were creating a scene, there were a lot of random people stopping to watch and photograph us. (Unfortunately, I was not among the people capturing the action, so no photos here.)

The moment Will arrived with the camera, we stopped rehearsing and started shooting. We did maybe six takes with various angles and dancing robotic talent and by the fifth take, we were hooping in freezing wind and thickening rain. As we finished the last one, the rain was pelting. Thank you to the hoopers for being professional to the end!

With us background dancers done most everyone was able to escape the rain, but there were still a few more shots to get. Kana had a role as the beautiful robot girl. Jesse quickly got the scene and Kana skedaddled. By this time, everyone who hadn't left when the rain was only mild had huddled under trees for shelter. Some hungover revellers were getting themselves organised to go to dinner. I remained because my stuff was intermingled with the rest of the things in the shoot. Tod & Rob stuck around because the three of us planned to go to dinner together after so they waited for me. What sweethearts.

Now it was pouring so hard that the air was white and the camera could see it. Even though there was only one more outdoor scene to take, it just wasn't going to happen as planned. Jesse looked determined to continue to the end. Everyone else looked like they wanted this to be over fifteen minute ago. I laughed - what else can you do when you are soaked through but not finished?  We gathered up the gear, searching for dropped bits and bobs. I found my iPod in the mud (lucky!). Everyone grabbed something and we dashed and splashed for the park toilets.

Our party took over most of the men's room foyer - robots and camera crews with hoops need a lot of space - but we did our best to be compact and to let people in who needed to use the stinky urinals. We were all soaked and freezing from a 15 degree temperature drop. My bare feet were muddy and the long patchwork skirt I wore clung to my legs. Water dripped down my skull off my nose as if I were a gargoyle. Yet I was smiling and having a great time. My part of the video was done. My hooping friends performed with good cheer and I hoped they were all safely home and dry.

Jesse managed to get his final scene from the toilet foyer, after waiting for Will to dry out a little and fixing some robotic rips. We were all under shelter, but the shot is framed so the background is the green trees outside. We had to move some people from the overhang just behind where Ray and Will were standing, and rather than come inside they hopped on their skateboards and rode out into the rain. Oops.

After getting the shots (with Rob shooting b-roll on his camera), finally giving up on the rain ever stopping, and with Ray's girlfriend needing to get home, we left the toilet, ran to the station using various props and bags as umbrellas, divided up the gear and said goodbye. 

I was so thoroughly wet that dinner had to be postponed until I could have something dry to wear.  Tod, Rob & I went to Kinji, a used clothing store in Harajuku. We spent a lovely warm hour browsing the racks and all bought something with long sleeves. I got a dry skirt, too. Then we had dinner at a cafe while the rain stopped.

As soon as the video is ready, I'll post the link for you all to gawk at the awsomeness of tinfoil robots, hoops, and rap in the rain.

Merry, merry month of May

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There are two months in Tokyo that make me gloriously happy because they have the absolute best weather - May and October. I've been enjoying this year's May very much.  It's combined a lot of outdoor time with hooping and some new skills, too.


First, I hosted a Guru-guru Camp during Golden Week. 15 people joined in the hooping fun for 7 nights on Niijima, one of my favorite places in the world to camp. Such a long break from the city was refreshing. I cooked al fresco, took a dawn stroll to the beach each morning, relaxed with friends, taught hoop workshops, juggled and learned to play some chords on my new ukulele. I was so happy to be in nature that I didn't even walk into the village until the last two days. I would love to be able to live in a house surrounded by trees with a stream nearby, just like I did when I was growing up. Not really a possibility in central Tokyo, but maybe someday...

Right after Guru-guru Camp, I finished up the Japan Tricks Showcase video. This is a collection of original hoop tricks by nineteen Japan-based hoop dancers. We hope that people who watch the video will donate to one of the many earthquake and tsunami relief projects we support. Thanks to features on and Hoop City, the showcase has been viewed 1,177 times as of today. You can find out more about it on the Spin Matsuri website.

Tutu Party crew: Raha, Emily, Masa, Savannah, Roon Roon, me, Sareh and Miki. (Photo by Fernando Ramos)

Sareh also had a fundraiser in the form of a Tutu Party at Orbit in Sangenjaya to launch of her line of party tutus. In addition to performing with my hoop on the night along with the very talented Raha pole dancing and Miki doing burlesque, we were part of a video shoot on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Nakameguro. Five girls in tutus (and very little else) running around with a treasure map and a tiara caught a few eyes.  The video isn't quite done yet, though it previewed at the Tutu Party.

Performing in a shoebox. (Photo by Fernando Ramos)

I loved my performance at the tutu party. It was technically a nightmare. I botched every trick I'd planned. I was injured and couldn't do much with my left arm. The space was smaller that I realised so my choreography had to be tossed out the window. The audience was sitting at decapitation height. I kept twacking the dance pole installed behind me. The tiara fell off and my wig went askew. And was a good performance. My energy was high; I interacted with the audience; I didn't let my mistakes or surprise changes stop the show or upset me.  I had a lot of fun. I hope the audience did, too. Especially since I didn't decapitate any of them!

The doctor is in!

The day after the Tutu Party, I held a Hoop Hospital in the carport here at home. Deanne generously gave me all her hoop making tools and supplies when she left Japan this month. About the same time as she left, five hoops got busted. So all the sad hoop lovers got together to fix them. I showed everyone how to use the tools to make and/or fix hoops, and everybody repaired their own. Tod manned the tools for a few extras that needed attention (he also strung an ethernet cable out onto the balcony so we could listen to music and he made spiced iced tea, following up the event with a yummy grilled dinner) while I nursed my shoulder and ran errands for more scissors and glasses and things. It was a fun afternoon and we will definitely have another one later in the summer.


And as if I haven't had enough hooping joy this month, this Sunday is 4th Sunday Spin at Yoyogi Park from 12:30 til sunset. And from 2:30 and 3:30, we are going to be shooting a goofy music video for a friend's new song. Come be a robot hooper back dancer! There's a little hoop routine we'll dance while the star robot does his thing up front. If you want to do a solo, that's an option, too. I have enough construction paper and glitter masks for 13 robots and later today, Jesse and I are creating a cardboard and tinfoil costume for the star robot. Such production values have never been seen before.

All during this month we've been on the alert for flaming nuclear plants, more tremblors, higher death tolls, and disaster dramas. I think I have gotten past all the fear and worry. Looking forward to finding more ways to conserve electricity this summer, going to volunteer in Tohoku, and living my life with as much joy and verve as possible.

And hey, why worry? The Rapture is tomorrow anyway.  So I'll see you all at the park on Sunday, right?

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