Melissa Stockwell | TranscenDance
When did you begin your journey into the flow arts, and how were you inspired to start?
I began hooping in April of 2012 at age 25. I was inspired by a friend carrying around a kid’s hula hoop and being unsure why. I was interested in hula hooping with her but never knew how to. So I googled how to hula hoop and I was presented with a large list of videos showing hooping, tricks, and hoop dancing. It was love at first sight!
What do you love about the experience of performing?
I love to make people happy, to make people believe in good things, and to inspire people to do more with their lives. I like to feel like I have something to offer the world that can make people believe in magic.
How has being a part of the flow community touched your life? How can the flow community make an impact and how do you see yourself being a part of it?
Without the flow community I do not feel like I would have very many friends and I don’t think I would be very good at making friends. The flow community makes me feel like I finally have somewhere I belong and fit in. I feel the community can have a positive impact on the world by encouraging as many people as possible to participate in the flow arts. I would love to use my degree in nonprofit management to start or join a nonprofit in the flow arts. I am only 4 classes away from having that master’s degree. I have written many papers on the topic of transforming hoop dance and flow arts into a nonprofit organization.
What advice would you give to someone just starting their flow journey? Which tutorials or guiding principles helped you along the way?
Don’t have any certain expectations, this is for fun, happiness and health. Finding your flow is the reward, it is not a task to accomplish. Flow finds you, you do not find it, and you cannot rush it. I found tutorials by Babz Robinson to be very helpful. I also found hoop jams and skill shares to be very helpful. Being around like minded people is essential. Classes and workshops are under-rated.
Where do you aim to hone your skills in 2018? Have you taken on any new props or specialties recently?
I plan to become more flexible and more interested in having well-rounded fitness in 2018. I would love to start yoga. Lately I have been more interested in staff, but I have been forcing myself to focus on my hoop dance because I have been going through so much and haven’t had much time to practice.
What are your main props/specialties?
Hoops, dancing. Decent beginner at juggling, poi, devil sticks, flow wand, and staff.
Is there a particular aspect about the hooping or flow community that you’re passionate about? How do you envision your influence?
Making friends, making deep connections, sharing our passions, and feeling like a family. I like to think I help the community grow and expand to groups of people that might not necessarily be likely to begin the flow arts but do so anyway and are glad they did. I live in an area that is not really interested in hooping, flow arts or physical activity. I have been able to influence the area quite a bit though.
In a nutshell, how would you describe your unique style of flow? Are there artists or dance styles that you take inspiration from?
A perfect mix of tricks and dancing. I like to balance tricks with dance as much as possible. I like to keep my speed slow to medium. I rarely hoop fast and prefer to have a fluid, clean line set of techniques. I emphasize clean transitions as well. I am especially inspired by Morgan Jenkins, Taylor Duffrin, Marika Cockney, and Amanda Lee.
Where do you like to practice the most?
I like practicing at home the most, but I also love going anywhere with high ceilings or outside on a beautiful day with soft and even grass.
Do you have any flow related personal successes that you’d like to share?
Hooping and the flow arts have taught me to be the ideal version of myself. Before I found hooping I was not a happy person, nor was I able to stick with anything or feel good about myself. Now I am determined and I can do more than I ever thought possible. The longer I am involved in the flow arts, the more successful I become. It has taught me so much about personal development and life.
Do you teach, mentor or create tutorials?
I do all three of those. I have many years of experience in all of those things.
Are you a part of a troupe or performance group?
I tried to start one in my area but it is a very small, poor and difficult area. Therefore I decided to put that project on the back burner.
Are you a part of a flow community or flow meet-up? Are there any local flow gatherings near you?
I like to hold as many jams and parties as possible, but my area is not good and people have to travel a long way to get here, so it is rare. It takes a lot of work, planning and persuading to get people to come and attend flow jams here in Titusville, PA. I enjoy meeting up with friends in Pittsburgh for flow events.
Are you one of the community members that helps to organize any of these events? Do you want to share details of how you take a leading or participatory role?
Yes I am. I am the main organizer of flow events for Titusville. I brought in a lot of people for Lee Jeffries and Lucy Ford’s hoop dance intensive workshop in 2017. I did almost all of the promotion for that myself and hooked them up with the studio. I have a long relationship with the owners of the dance studio here and am able to use the space whenever I like. I plan the entire events myself. I do all of the marketing, promotions, and everything for them. My largest ones were my 2015 and 2016 Christmas parties that had over 25 people in attendance at each. I also enjoy doing Halloween parties and hoopiversary events and other workshops.
At which festivals/events/retreats can you be found in 2017?
2018 is a massive change year for me. I would love to attend festivals, events and retreats but I am unsure which I can make it to. I am going through a lot of life changes and am financially struggling at the moment so I will have to see where I can afford to go and how.
Are you an active performer?
Yes I am. My 3 most recent performances were (in order of most recent) the Titusville Early Childhood Learning Center Luau themed performance for their reading program event, the Meadville Open Air Market performance, and my 10 year high school reunion in Titusville PA. I have videos of these on my YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/melissastockwell4372/
Advanced Tutorial: Double Hoop Jump Through Combo
Hooping Tutorial: Up the Back Roll
Hooping and Hoop Dance Tutorial - Paddling to help with Shoulder Hooping
Performance at Second Saturday Market
Photos by Timothy Sean Photography