Wednesday, April 15, 2009
How it All Began: Amiliscious Hotfield Emerges
After attending the NW Hoop Gathering in Bend, OR, (which by the way, was. amazing.) I feel inspired to tell my story. How did I get here, how did Amy Hatfield transform into Miss Amiliscious Hotfield Vancouver??
It started in 2000 when I went through a rather painful breakup. A wise man once told me that it's life's little bumps that give you the most air. How true, how true. I went in search of a new life, new friends, something to help me feel renewed. I was living in Seabright in Santa Cruz, CA. I had made some new friends down the street , Sara, Emily, and Jill, and they kept asking me to come see them firedance. I had some strange notion of what this might be, maybe they walked on fire, dancing around on the burning embers? When I finally went down to the beach one night to see them, I was blown away! As I was watching them twist and twirl and dance among the spinning flaming orbs I though,' I'm going to do that!' And I did. Sara lent me my first pair of poi, and the three of them diligently taught me the first few moves. My 8th grade flag team skills sure came in handy! A lot of the basic moves were the same, so my muscles remembered them from long ago. I was obsessed! I spent every free moment practicing with my poi, and every sleeping moment dreaming of it. I blistered my fingers to hell, taped them up, and kept on spinning. My favorite album to practice to was Ozomatli, and I think my housemates will forever hate the album after hearing it every day over and over again...
I first lit my poi on fire on May 5th, 2000. A day that changed my life forever! I remember the sound of the flaming ball of fire whizzing by my ears, surrounding me in a beautiful timelapse cage of hot orange hissing fire. It was love at first light! Jill, Sara, and I spent the summer firedancing on the beach by our houses, and out in the street for our friends and passerby. We recruited a few more friends that summer, and soon we had people playing with poi up and down the street at all possible opportunities! That was when we began exploring other tools, we had a few hula hoops that we practiced with often, and we crafted a couple of extremely simple fire hoops, I got some fire batons, we made some fire fingers, and fire staff. We were totally and completely obsessed. I remember continuously perfecting my poi, making a new pair almost every month because I would think of some new design that seemed better than the last.
Later that summer I co-founded a fire dance troupe with Tisina, Kara, and Keith, called Nocturnal Sunshine. They are still rockin it today! Kara is the only original member, but I jump in whenever possible. It was at some point in this year that I adopted the name 'Amiliscious'. Somehow, it just worked.
In early 2001 Keith and I met a guy by the name of Mr. Fun. He had a business called Infinity Toys (now called Mystic Toyz) , and he had a booth at the String Cheese New Years shows in Portland. We fell in love with him instantly and decided to work for him. His business sold skill toys and we took the summer off from our Santa Cruz life, and hit the road! We traveled up and down the west coast selling poi, hackey sacks, diabolo, frisbee, devil sticks, and more. Whenever we weren't demoing skill toys and teaching people the art, we were rockin out to cool live bands or firedancing on a riverbank. It was the life! We ended the summer at Burning man, as newbies! Burning man blew my heart and mind wide open and prepared me for the crazy journey that has been my life for the past 8 years. We returned from desert bliss to a harsh reality. Keith was leaving for Brazil for 6 months to study capoera with a master. We were separating on loving terms but separating none the less. He was to leave on September 12th, 2001. September 11th came tragic and heavy. We spent our last day together in shock and horror at what had happened in New York. After Keith left I decided to move to Seattle.
The big city! I moved to Seattle in October 2001, and joined Pyrosutra, an established fire troupe. They were so much fun! Under the careful tutelage of Tabasco I mastered the art of fire eating. Our grand finale to every show was a fire eating orgy, where we all melted in an incendiary puddle and debaucherously fed each other fire. It was all very decent and provocative at the same time. I spent 5 years in the Emerald City, faithfully participating in Pyrosutra. In that time I worked more on my hula hooping, and got a proper fire hoop. I mostly just hooped on my waist and an arm up here or there. Back then there weren't any youtube videos! No hoop gatherings! if there were, I sure didn't know about it. I remember trying and trying to hoop on my knees. so hard! I also acquired fire fans and learned how to walk on stilts.
In 2003 I met Johnny D and started co creating the fire show for the midnight shebang at the Hornings String Cheese shows. I did that for 5 years and have created so many amazing bonds with fans, crew, and band. I will always hold Johnny D high in my heart for seeing the potential in me and handing me the reins.
The entire time I lived in Seattle, I worked at an amazing Chiropractic office called Crown Hill Chiropractic. I learned the Chiropractic philosophy and realized how tied in it is with a lot of the self-empowerment movements that are all abuzz right now. I delved into a lot of my personal issues during this time and learned SO much from my boss and mentor, Dr. Scott Lynch. He will forever be a part of me and for that I am grateful. I also learned how rewarding it is
to be in service to others and I will always carry that with me.
In 2005 I decided to return to my hometown of Santa Cruz. I wasn't sure if I would stay long but I knew I was ready to leave Seattle. I moved home in the spring of
2005. I got a place on the beach with my best friend , Keith SriKanta Barefoot. We were both back in Nocturnal Sunshine. So much had changed since I last had joined them on stage! They were on fire, literally and figuratively. Kara had started samba dancing a few years before, and she brought that to her fire dance with grace and skill. Rebecca had joined the group while I was gone, and she was smokin! Everyone had stepped it up 500%. I had so much fun finding my place in the new entity. Keith and I had perfected our doubles poi stuff over the years and we got to seriously rock it. It was during this time that I made a decision. I wanted to be a kick ass hula hooper! I'd been dabbling in hoop for the last 5 years, and now was the time to step into the circle, for REAL. I went to the beach every single day ( a 2 minute walk) and practiced my art. I laid in bed at night thinking up new moves and I kept diligently working on them until I got them. There is nothing like that AHA! moment where you finally master a move that you have been working on. That's the craving, I think that's why we all do it. We are addicted to the AHA! It was during this time that I started to really hoopdance. I found myself in the circle. I taught myself how to hoop on my knees, on one knee. I mastered the barrel roll, the off the shoulder. Anything I could think of!
At Hornings that year I met someone new and another major life shift began.
It was Burning Man of 2005 that I saw the March Fourth Marching Band, I just KNEW I had to run away with this band! 4 years later I now know that almost EVERYONE feels this way when they see the band, I guess I'm one of the lucky ones.
By January 2006 I had moved to Portland in search of love, community, and new and exciting performance opportunities. I began performing with the band Vagabond Opera, hula hooping and fire eating with them. After seeing hundreds of VO shows, I still watch every single show. They are so good! I went on tour with them a few times, performing, selling merchandise, and being road manager. I also regularly attended the Juggling Club at Reed college, and learned how to pass clubs from Leapin' Louie Lichtenstein. I went to my first Oregon Country Fair. I dabbled with Kazum, an acrobatic dance troupe. Challenging and fun! There is a guy in this community named Argon Vancouver. Anyone who he considers family may take on the family name 'Vancouver'. Thus, Vancouver will forever be part of my name, with my dear brother Argon. A perfect example of how I just kind of melted into this over the top incredible Portland community.
Almost a year later, late 2006, I joined March Fourth, a 35 piece carnivale style marching band, complete with a dance team and stilt acrobatics. 'Imagine Duke Ellington meets Sgt. Pepper in an international big-top Fantasia evoking a familial community reminiscent of the Grateful Dead'. They had hula hoopers but no one with the mad skillz I brought to the table! I am so blessed and thankful to be a part of this amazing group of individuals. The bond between us is like that of family, and the energy that is generated by us all doing what we love to do, together, is out of this world! March Fourth has afforded me the most incredible performance opportunities. I took on a new stage name....Amiliscious Hotfield Vancouver was born. More commonly, Amy Hotfield. I have had the pleasure of playing in front of all types of audiences in Portland, from a Burning Man fundraiser to a kids show at the Children's Museum to headlining a sold out show at the Crystal Ballroom to opening for Pink Martini at the Schnitz. We have toured across the country from here to LA to NY and all points in between. We have Marched through the 9th Ward in ravaged New Orleans and caused people to come out of their houses and dance in the streets during a thunderstorm. I have had some of the most incredible moments of my life with this band. So often I think ' This is my LIFE?? This is SO AWESOME!!'
Lately I have been feeling my plateau. I have not been inspired to practice my hoop, and haven't had any ideas for new things to learn. So I signed up to go to the NW Hoop Gathering in Bend, OR, and I signed up for a teacher training program happening here in Portland. The Hoop Gathering was out of this world! I feel incredibly re-inspired and have a million new things that I am working on! To top it off I have an awesome boyfriend who makes me yummy dinners, is very snuggly, and takes good care of my kitty.
Now I feel drawn to share my talents with others. I am looking forward to the Hoopnotica teacher training this weekend and I am also looking forward to the Hoopgirl teacher training in October. I am also greatly looking forward to Culture Jam, a youth camp that I did a few years ago and am hoping to do again this year. 50 teens between 14 and 18, and 25 facilitators.
I'm not sure where this year will lead but I feel on the cusp of something new, something ever evolving, and something completely and utterly AMAZING!!!!