By HANNAH HATCH
I met Pandora Sutherland, Alhambra High School Senior, Tuesday, Feb. 2, at her home in Martinez. Her home was full of beautiful art and vibes of love. Pandora was wearing the “fuzziest” velvet outfit she could find to keep her warm in the cold. We sat down in her room full of art and drawings she had made herself.
Give an overall explanation of why your art is unique?
I am a hoop dancer – definitely a younger hooper. Hoop dancing refers to manipulation of and artistic movement or dancing with a hoop (or hoops). I am trying to incorporate the art of yoga with my hoop dancing. Yoga and hooping both were huge influences on learning to except myself.
One of the things I really try to do with my hooping is spread self-empowerment and body empowerment. I stopped shaving my armpits and my legs; I am trying to get rid of being afraid to show off my natural body. We are all only human, we are mammals.
I am sponsored by Monarch Hoops and Dance (www.monarchhoopsanddance.com).
They found me on my Instagram account, Hooplasana.
“Hooplasana” stands for “hoopla,” a silly term that hoop dancers use in celebration, and asana can be defined as a physical Yoga posture/position that is designed to help master the body and enhance the body’s functions.
They basically chose me to be their first sponsor. They send me free hula hoops, lighting equipment for professional quality videos, and they edit videos for me. It is really fun! They feature me on their page.
I have somewhat of a following on my Instagram account now; I think around 4,000 followers. There’s a huge hoop community, but instead of having my followers as some sort of validation and seeking attention from others, I feel like it is a way to reach out, show people who I am, what I stand for and most importantly, what I think is beautiful in the world.
A lot of the time people go one of two ways with hoop dance – they either perform and really want to be seen, or they keep it to themselves. I have not done much performance yet, but I would love to in the future. Yet I feel like it is really nourishing keeping it to myself, and I do not feel the need to do it for others to get applause.
One of the things I have noticed about getting more attention on social media, I am starting to get some “haters” and also idolization, which is not what I want. I want people to realize hooping is attainable. I was hooping every single day the first year of my practice and listening to music that I loved. I felt like that was more important to be 100 percent true to myself and not try to appeal to other people.
How/when did you discover your talents?
It was very self-influenced. I have always loved to dance from a very young age. I was in a hip-hop crew in elementary school. My parents took me to a lot of festivals when I was really young, under one year old. I was exposed to seeing a lot of people hooping, most of it was around the waist. In the last 10 years, hoop dance has become really evolved to be this crazy thing where people are throwing these light-weight hula hoops and using them on different parts of their bodies.
When I was in elementary school I remember being the person that could hoop the longest – you know the last person standing in a hula hoop contest. In Junior High I tried to do tricks; it was really hard at first.
Two years as of this coming March I have been regularly hooping everyday. When you get started, there’s a bunch of tutorials on YouTube. I probably watched about five, and then realized I don’t want anyone telling me what to do or how to do it. So I kind of just went with the flow, hit myself in the face, and found ways to improvise and totally make that into a new trick. I feel like a lot of people when they are learning look at these already coined tricks, but I just basically listen to music that I love and put a lot of emotion into it.
Who/what is an influence on your work? (What inspires you?)
Hooper/dancer Caitlin (@isopuppy on Instagram), The Majorettes (http://marawatheamazing.com/majorettes/), and my sponsor Tylor Klausing.
Music is what inspires much of my dancing. I frequently dance to music created by my partner, Mikey Kinsley. You can find it on his Soundcloud page: opalescence. https://soundcloud.com/opalescence_ra).
Nature is also a huge inspiration of mine. I have gone hiking and backpacking with my hoops strapped to me. I really love getting videos that capture how beautiful the natural spots I am in are, and how that inspires me.
What projects are you currently working on?
I just did a Pacific/North West college tour with my dad over summer of 2015. We went through Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and South Western Canada. We looked at natural spots and colleges. I took videos of beautiful places from my travels and my sponsor put together a big edited video called “Passages.” (Monarch Hoops And Dance YouTube page https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqostgcMgYY)
I want that beauty that is captured in my video to persuade people to go be active in nature and to appreciate it. If you go out of your way to go “dance around in the redwoods,” it is beautiful.
The next project I will be working on is an “alien hooper visits Earth” feature where I will be hooping in industrial locations and warehouses in my shiny-silver, metallic leotard and matching lace up boots. It will probably be completed in two months or so and you can find it on my Facebook page and on YouTube. (See Pandora’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hooplasana)
Do you have any shows or events scheduled that you will be participating in?
I will be participating at every Artcelerator’s ArtBeat event, held every third Saturday of the month in downtown Martinez. I will be hooping, and as well, having my crystal business there, The Crystalline Cavern.
Can you tell me more about The Crystalline Cavern?
Mikey Kinsley and I are partners of this business that we just recently started up. We got the idea of it late one night last summer. We decided to put all of the crystals we had been collecting out on the counter and realized we were sitting on a gold mine (literally, we had gold). We have gotten almost all of our crystals from our friends at The Love of Ganesha, storefront in San Francisco on Haight Street.
We decided to talk to the business owner, a beautiful lady named Noot, and asked if we could expand this crystal business to the East Bay and online.
We took all of our crystals and “cleansed them” by soaking them in water and Himalayan sea salt. We put intention into them. Each specific kind of stone has healing properties in them that have an intention- blocking negative energy, promoting love in life, aiding meditation, etc.
You cleanse the crystals and then charge them by holding individual crystals and putting thought into them. Some people do not believe in the spiritual aspect of crystals and what they can do in your life. If you believe that your life is going to change in a positive way in some aspect and put your intention into that mindset, I believe it will reflect upon your life in a positive way.
I have been wire wrapping for a year with copper-wire and plated wire (gold or sterling silver). We make pendants and jewelry, as well as sell individual crystals.
For us, our business is not about the money but rather spreading the love of the Earth and the treasures that it gives us. We want to make this into a life-long career of mining, trading, buying and selling crystals.
We plan to have an Etsy account up and running soon for our crystal business (look for The Crystalline Cavern’s upcoming page on etsy.com). We would like to turn this into a collective, which means that any of our friends, family and acquaintances who are passionate about their own art, we are willing to include them in our business and let them list on our website or display them on our table at an art fair. (And we will give them the money for it.) We want people to be motivated to do their own art and spread their passion in their own way. Art is such a huge part of society and expressing yourself as a human, and some people do not know how to do it on their own. Passion is number one and all else you need is a little support and ambition.
We hope to have The Crystalline Cavern on Display at craft fairs, First Fridays in Oakland, etc.
Can you give me background on your knowledge of crystal mining?
We have just been collecting them because we think they are unique and beautiful treasures from the earth. They are little pieces of art that the earth has made and have been collected by humans over the years. Crystals and minerals have been very involved in human pasts – rituals, religious ceremonies, healing, medicine, architecture and art.
The crystal “Lapis Lazuli” was used as a pigment for paint in a lot of famous art pieces. The funeral mask of King Tut was painted with Lapis Lazuli pigment. Also in renaissance and baroque art Lapis Lazuli paint was often used.
Crystals and minerals are available all over the world. You can go up into the Martinez hills and Briones and mine for crystals. The Bay Area has a pretty good history of crystal mining.
What are your plans for your future?
My aspirations for hooping are to teach classes, workshops, do retreats and performances. I am interested in doing donation-based classes because I feel like it should be less about the money and the fame and more about spreading the love for being comfortable in your own body and dance and expression. I will incorporate yoga with hooping and hopefully will make a life out of that. I would love to do a traveling “hoop troop.” I really want to travel all over the world with it.
In this next year after I graduate, late 2016 through early 2018, Mikey and I are going to be traveling through South America, Central America, Canada, Thailand, India and Hawaii. We are going to be mining and trading crystals. We are working our butts off until we can afford it and will also be working along the way through a few different programs. One is called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), which is an organization where you can offer to work on organic farms basically all across the world. (http://www.wwoof.net/)