I did not know I was writing my own love story until I was hooping it.
I didn’t realize the love story was about the man who I had just met, until he was there with me, filming it.
This is the story behind HELLO! A Spontaneous Dance for an Infinite Number of Hoopers: An Epic Tale of True Love. and the inspiration to create HELLO!100.
written by Bex Burton, January 2012.
Like many love stories, my story begins with heartache.
In the Spring of 2011, I ended yet another relationship. Though this time, circumstances were completely different than breakups past. I wasn’t repeating patterns or severing ties. I chose to end this relationship for self-preservation and for the preservation of friendship. My feelings were growing disproportionately deeper for the friend that I had been dating for several months, and I finally accepted the fact that he couldn’t offer me what I wanted, though I wasn’t fully aware of what that was exactly at the time. I just knew that I wasn’t happy.
I felt as though I was better off on my own, than together wishing our situation were different. I chose to honor the agreement I’d made with myself not to accept anything less than “Extraordinary”. To that end, I had adopted a slightly tongue-in-cheek mantra of “I’m a Big F*cking Deal,” for all the time and effort I invest in growing and living passionately: I’ll be damned if the person I share my time and my life with doesn’t recognize that fact or isn’t a “Big F*cking Deal” himself. These affirmations came about after attending my hoop brother’s magical beach party wedding to his Extraordinary bride in Mexico, surrounded by over a hundred cherished hoop friends and family, who are deeply in love with them both. I finally realized what was missing.
Divine, Exquisite, Extraordinary Love. I call it True Love here, for short.
I returned to New York from that trip with a fresh understanding of the deep, divine love that is possible between two people. Where love radiates around two people, and infectiously permeates to all those near them. There was no question in my mind that True Love exists! I saw it in them, and I realized that I wanted it too. And so, despite this void, I felt quite peaceful about my decision to end another relationship, and held on to my heart in belief that True Love exists.
Around the same time, I was experiencing devastating creative heartbreak. I had been cut from a performance for which I had invested over a month rehearsing. Worse, I was cut on opening day. I fell apart. I tried so hard to find the positive spin on the situation (there was no hooping involved, so I was thankful for that), but that process of replaying the situation just spun me deeper into sadness.
With a slash to my heart, and a crippling blow to my performing ego, in the midst of the still-bitter New York spring, my heart light was dimmed to a mere flicker. But I look back on that day with awe. For in that place of heartache and sorrow, there laid the seeds of destiny.
Merely hours after I was notified about getting axed, a Pilates client of mine, a Roller Derby Girl, poked me again about performing a hoopdance in an upcoming Gotham Girls home game halftime show. As this was at least the third time she had brought it up, and since I had a freshly cleared calendar, I agreed.
She gave me three dates, April, May and June. As it was March 31, my inclination was to go with the June date, so as to prepare a proper piece to fill the “10-15 minute requirement.” My hoop sister commented on what a big deal the gig was, and I felt inclined to meet the mission with something bigger than me. A group piece! I trolled my hoop family to see who was available and determined a 10-minute dance for five hoopers was my goal.
The Derby then had an emergency cancellation, and I made a leap. I accepted the April date, which was just ten days away. I needed to get to work. Another hoop sister of mine had made a music recommendation: “Dog Days are Over,” by Florence + The Machine. I loved this track and wanted to use it, but needed a second track as a punchy opener. I poured through the iTunes store for convenience and popularity, and found “Hello” by Martin Solveig and Dragonette. The song completely lended itself to hooping, was perfect for the Derby crowd, and mixed with “Dog Days,” provided a perfect running time. As I wrote out the lyrics to send to my dancers, I chuckled to myself at the pairing of songs. To my ears, a story developed of a sassy party girl sideswiped by love and happiness. I wrote a love story! How precious.
I had only one week left to choreograph and teach my girls. With such a short amount of time, I decided the moves had to be basic, and the music cues should be clear. I went to my tiny neighborhood inlet park at night and danced. I danced to everything but the show music: warming up, setting intention, being in my hoop. When I finally played my songs, the dance came to me. I remember being lost in time the nights I worked on the piece, only touching ground to jot notes in my book. Each night I stayed out in my hoop way past my self-imposed curfew, absorbed in counts and filling them with shape. It felt good. It felt ME. I was more connected to myself and my dance in those moments than I’d permitted myself to feel in months. I was letting go of the heartache. And I had a beautiful piece of HoopDance to show for it.
With less than a week to showtime, I completed the first half of the piece, “Hello”, on Monday. I finished the frame for “Dog Days” on Thursday. Four Hoop sisters learned the piece on Friday and Saturday before the game. The fifth hoop sister got sick, and we were now a quartet with last minute changes to our choreography. We had never seen the venue, and had no idea how big the space was. We rehearsed in the lobby. The halftime buzzer rang, and we were on.
The show was a success, but afterwards I wanted more. I was so in love with HELLO!, I wanted to dance the piece again with more hoopers. Four was just not enough. Maybe seven. Or twelve. FIFTY?!? Why bother making limitations, an INFINITE NUMBER OF HOOPERS! I envisioned a sea of hoopers in twinkly sparkly unison, and I immediately thought of FIGMENT.
FIGMENT is New York City’s only free, open to the public, family friendly, participatory arts gathering. It is held every June on Governor’s Island, following the 10 Principles of Burning Man Festival. I knew it was the most appropriate venue for my dance, and I had six weeks to make it happen.
I went back to the studio and reworked the dance. The choreography only changed slightly, but I created layers to the dance. The original four dancers would begin the piece as Tier 1, and the energy of the dance would build and build as more and more hoopers would join in the “Spontaneous Dance.”
As I recruited and rehearsed over forty New York City area hoopers to learn and dance the piece, out of the blue I received a message from a man on okCupid. I wasn’t actively dating nor looking to on okCupid, in fact I’d all but forgotten about my account. I certainly didn’t think I would find True Love online, as I’d resigned to believe that online dating was “cheating on True Love.” Regardless, this message broke through, and lackadaisically I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go out on one date.
He had written that he liked my spirit and was interested in getting to know it better. Which I thought was interesting. None of my photos had my face (they were all Hoops!) and my profile was brutally honest. (“I’m a Big F*cking Deal. And if you don’t know what one is, I don’t want to give a tutorial”). Despite my dare and bravado, he wrote.
He wrote he was a creator and a teacher, which interested me as I am the same. In writing, we discovered we both consider Burning Man an important part of our life, though we were both on okCupid in hopes of finding someone outside of our circles. We realized we frequent the same events in New York, but I had never seen him before, which seemed impossible, because “I know everyone.” It wasn’t long before we discovered he even had photos of me from a performance I had done two years prior. He never knew who that hooper was. I never knew he existed.
I met Nick on Friday, June 3, one week and two days before FIGMENT. I was surprised by and delighted with our conversation. Nick asked me so many great questions, and three hours felt like half of one. He asked me tons about hooping, which is a golden topic for anyone dating a hooper. I told Nick about my “Spontaneous Dance for an Infinite Number of Hoopers” that was happening the very next weekend, and without seeing it or knowing the conditions, he offered to film the piece. I was extremely grateful, but was not without disbelief due to the enormity of the undertaking to which he’d agreed. Moreover, I was a bit stunned given the fact that we’d only just met that night.
I knew it was worth seeing him again. The following Monday, Nick picked me up on his motorcycle for our second date, where he brought me to the Brooklyn industrial waterfront for the sunset. (romantic and sexy.) After dinner and conversations about childhood and family memories, we landed by the water again, this time for an epic make out that secured his third date with me, though my verdict was still out. “I’m a Big F*cking Deal” after all…
Our third date was Thursday. Nick made me dinner, and in his home, we opened up about our personal paths toward consciousness. We shared with each other our similar experiences, like Burning Man and meditation, and how these things have shaped us. We elaborated on our different passions, hooping for me, film and photography for him, and how these things drive us. As Nick and I talked into the night, less than one week of having met, the verdict was in: I knew I’d be spending a fair amount of time with this man.
That Sunday was FIGMENT, the day of the performance. Everything was different. I was uncharacteristically calm and joyous in a flurry of chaotic preparation and delayed arrival for my own show. Hoopers and friends were gathered alike. The energy on the Island was high–mostly because I was 30 minutes late! But I had a huge smile on my face, and a glow in my heart. The time had come to hoop.
Our stage was cleared and the drumbeat began. I ran out with my hoop, joining my original dancers, and we began to dance HELLO!
When the music mixed to the second track, I took the center of the circle for my solo. As Florence + The Machine sang of the end of the “Dog Days”, and how “happiness had hit her like a train on a track,” I realized the love story I wrote was my own. As I danced that day with more than 30 other New York City Hoopers, I realized that before I ever met him, Nick was my muse, and I had called all my people to gather to greet him. HELLO!
We performed the show twice that day, and after the second show, Nick and I hopped on our bikes to explore FIGMENT and have some quiet time. It was then that he asked me if I believed in soul mates, and I almost fell over. I found it! I believed in it, and I knew it existed. I just didn’t realize it would happen so fast, nor be wrapped so snugly with my hoop. There was no denying it, what we shared was and still is, Divine, Exquisite, Extraordinary Love.
UPDATE: HELLO! danced again several times in the summer of 2011 at various festivals and parades, including HoopFest New England, and Return to Roots Hoop Gathering. In celebration of the first year of our partnership and our continuing Epic Tale of True Love, Bex decided it was only fitting to restage HELLO! in 2012, with 100 hoopers by her side.
HELLO!100 at Figment 2012 was an incredible success. 100 hoopers from across the country gathered to dance out a beautiful exploration in community and a celebration of True Love. Check out the video of HELLO100 here!
UPDATE 2013/2014: When discussing our anniversary this year, Nick mentioned that my gift to him is ‘gathering tons of hoopers and making them dance” for him, so I’d hate to disappoint him! Check out my anniversary gift to him in 2013: All is LOVE!
And wouldn’t you know, Nick had a surprise up his sleeve following the first performance of the 2014 dance, Believe in HAPPY! He asked all the hoopers to make a circle around me, and he came out to greet me with a bouquet of flowers, a very special ring, and a question that changed my life forever!
LONG LIVE LOVE!
Share the Bexican Word!by