Don't Take It Personally: Reacting to Performance Challenges

lana mae sikes

Above Photo is Lana Mae Sikes and hooper friends at Byrdefest.

Have you ever gone to perform at an event, only to be surprised or disappointed at the outcome? Maybe you were turned away at the last minute for some reason, or the accommodations (music, amount of space. introduction, etc.) left something to be desired? If this has ever happened to you, then you know what I mean when I say that it it can feel like the worst thing in the world at the time.

corinne manning sullivan

Photo from Corrine Manning-Sullivan

I recently had this type of experience. I showed up at an event where I was supposed to hoop dance for a crowd at one part of this street fair. I arrived on time and went to the pre-arranged meetup location to talk to the woman who I had been speaking to for the past couple of weeks regarding my performance. There also were supposed to be other performers at this location.

Basically, I was ignored by the woman running this “party”. I realized she was busy with the hundred other details and the other people who were a part of it. That didn't make me feel any better that the conditions were different than what she had told me. The space was not blocked off, and there was no music available.

I was told by a waitress that I should find an open spot nearby the shop to hoop, and that people would take care to move away so as not to get hit by the hoop. I mustered up my confidence and assertiveness, and finally found a bit of sidewalk that was available. This worked quite well and I did my thing for a few minutes. However, there was no direct crowd who I was hooping to... no one really stopped to watch, and I felt a bit awkward within this scenario.

I made the most out of a tough situation and did my best. Later on, I decided to contact one of the coordinators about what had happened and how my expectations had fallen flat.

ciara cochran

Photo from Ciara Cochran

If you ever have a difficult experience with a performance, whether it be a disorganized host or disinterested crowd, you are in good company. Most of us have been there in the past, especially as flow artists. I think that we don't always get taken as seriously as other performers.

One thing that you can do is have a completely open and honest conversation with whoever was running the event, or someone from the team. You should remain civil and avoid any accusations or merely negative statements. When you discuss what went wrong, you can view it as entirely constructive criticism. Explain that you understand that things may have been hectic or that you know he or she was under pressure, but make it clear that you expected a bit of a different experience.

Offer up some possible solutions on how the event (or at least that aspect of it) can be run a bit better. You may even wish to offer up your services to help organize the event so that you can see firsthand what goes into it and help impart your vision of something amazing for the community.

breezy hennessey

Photo from Breezy Hennessey

Performances may be stressful, but first and foremost, they should be enjoyable for you and the crowd. Before you get scared away from hooping at another event, take a deep breath and see what you can do. Act instead of react. You don't want to burn your bridges and receive a bad reputation for flipping out about the situation. Always be mindful of how you present yourself. The hooping community will benefit greatly from every positive interaction between hoopers and the people who put on these events.