Wanting to push the boundaries of what an ‘animated object’ is the festival producer, Xstine Cook, included our show as part of their line-up. This struck a chord with me because my own hoop dance teacher instilled the belief in me that the hoops, shapes, and animals represent spirit beings and therefore the hoops are not just objects, they are alive. This concept has been reinforced through other experiences with ceremony, dance, performance, and even in my education. In his "Tenets of Native Philosophy", Gregory Cajete, writes "Every 'thing' is animate and has a spirit" (65, Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence).
The IFAO was my first real glimpse at the world of puppetry and animated objects. At the Dolly Wiggler Cabaret various artists involved in the festival performed short excerpts of their work. One of my favorite pieces were the "Dolly Wigglers" who did a performance piece called “Buffalo” in which they stated that “… the animated are not objects”. This echoed what I had already come to believe about the hoop dance, but this was in reference to puppets, masks and other animated objects. My perception of animated objects expanded and contracted at the same time. Expanding, as I realized that all these other artists who work with animated objects must have a strong connection with these ‘objects’ as we do as hoop dancers. I felt a connection to a whole other world of artists who work with animated objects. My perspective contracted as I realized how similar we are as artists working with animated objects. Although we may seem quite different, in terms of language, culture, and experience, etc. we are more similar than I realized. I felt close to the other artists through our shared experience as humans working with animated objects.
The experience of the IFAO demonstrated the spirit of the hoops and how they are alive. They take me to places I may not go and show me things I would not normally see. Through the journey they take me on, the hoops teach me and show me the truths and teachings of interconnectedness and equality that they symbolize.
My mom was at our show, which she often is, and she commented afterwards that she believed I am spiritually connected during the show, because she does not believe I am that good of an actress! (I took this as a compliment). She meant that it was a powerful performance and "pulls at the heart" so it must be a spiritual experience. It reaffirmed my passion and renewed my dedication to the hoop dance. The spirit of the hoop is alive and guiding a sacred journey.