June 2013 Archives

Identity Crisis

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Last night I had a strange and vivid dream. It touched on something that I have always wondered about secretly.

In the dream, my mother revealed a document that showed the true bloodlines of recent generations in our family. She'd had a curly-haired brother named Gabe who was killed in a knife fight when he was eight. There was a adopted cousin in my generation - one I don't know in waking life. And most relevant to me, and why my dream mother was showing me this document, I was not actually my parents' child but the love child of my father's brother and some unknown woman. They took me as their own to save face for the family. And that's why my birthday was April Fool's Day.

That is where dream life and real life collide a bit. Mom swears I was due in late January. Dad was a prankster. I've often wondered if I was actually born in January and somehow the records were changed to April 1, or if Mom has been stringing me along with this tale of being 8 weeks overdue. Something's fishy.

Contests and mental blocks

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A few months ago, Ayumi and Mami announced the Japan Hoopdance Champion contest. It's a nationwide contest for all hoopers living here. I was excited to see it come together and I wanted to enter it not with any intention of winning, but in solidarity to the organisers and to connect with the broader Japanese hoop community. Cool.

But there is always a "but"... Being judged freaks me out. Enormously. I don't like contests, auditions, or job interviews. I actively avoid them. I usually create my own opportunities or wait for offers to find me, rather than seek out terrifying moments of judgement and approval. 

So here I was, trying to enter a contest. It would be fine. Right?

Since I'm known for creating large group hoop choreographies, I figured I'd submit a group entry. This proved challenging because nobody wanted to be in a group with me. They were too busy, too shy, or maybe everyone dislikes working with me, I don't know. But eventually, thanks to Tod's intervention, Kouichi and I teamed up and created a dance together. Group of two is still a group. We rehearsed a few times, shot the video, and the group entry was sorted! Sigh of relief.

Thumbnail image for jhdc-still-kouichi-tink.jpg
See how cute we look? Kouichi was a lot of fun to dance with.

At the same time, I thought I ought to create a solo entry, too, because that would be a true challenge. I dislike solo dances. I dislike contests. Let's take two bad things and put me in the middle of them. Yes. Great idea. So I devised a kinda cool dance routine to a ska song I love. I drew up storyboards. I tested moves. And then I looked at the contest rules in detail. No editing, no panning, zooming or multiple cameras - all part of my plan. I liked my idea too much to shelve it, so Rob and Tod & I filmed the video anyway while we are on Niijima. It was pretty. I am still editing it.

With less than a month left before the contest entries were due, I started to stress about the solo entry. Maybe I shouldn't bother? I need to bother. I alternated between trying to try to talk myself out of it and trying to film something. 

I filmed in my living room. I filmed at the park, in the carport, in the yard. I recruited Tod to help. I manned the camera alone. I filmed on the bluff in Yokohama. I tried a choreographed dance to a song I like. I played with my hoop move and dance word cards. I tried freestyle dance to whatever came up on random play. I tried ukulele and hoop together. Nothing seemed to work.

So many tries. So many different hoop dances...

Mental block? Mental bollocks. Every single time, I gave up before the end of the song. I started beautifully and soon it all fell apart. I knew it wasn't good and I stopped. Sometimes the "not good" was obvious like tripping over my hoop. Sometimes it just felt wrong. Regardless of my excuse, I filmed a lot of incomplete dances. Upon reviewing the video, it was never as bad as I thought it was. If I had just kept going, I might have had something nice. But I didn't and the deadline was getting closer and closer.

Obviously, I had a completion issue. And a fear of failure. And that "being judged" thing that I mentioned before. I'm not sure what else came into play, but I was ramping up the crazy scale.

Every failed attempt made me more stressed. I felt bad emotionally, and eventually physically, too. My heart started behaving strangely. My stomach was upset. My head ached. I was sleeping erratically. I had no energy. To relieve the stress, I tried to tell myself it was ok not to enter the contest, but I didn't believe myself.

Eventually, I forced myself to make one last try. I spent several hours in the kendo room down the street. I walked out certain I had something suitable; there must be an entry in those two hours of dancing. I made sure I danced all the way through the songs no matter how awkward it felt.

I watched the footage. There were several sweet dances, perfectly fine for entering into the contest. But at the same time, I also skimmed through the footage from Yokohama the day before. And there it was, among the shots I'd not even bothered to look at because of course they were terrible and useless. My entry! It was funny and I loved it.

The public voting for the contest runs from June 3 -17. I have no need to win, so you don't have to vote for me, but I'd love for you to have a look at the entries and see what amazing talent Japan hooping world has. There are 12 kids entries, 13 soloists, and 4 groups. http://j-hoopchamp.com/applicant.html

And if you don't feel like looking through all the entries and voting, here are my solo performance and the group entry Kouichi and I did:

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