Hoop Dance Beginnings
I have been practising the art of hoop dance for approximately ten years now. This video was made about a year or so into my hoop dance journey, and in fact looking back, I can certainly see progression and development of style. This, I will discuss in more detail later.
My boyfriend was a poi spinner when we first met. So I started out learning poi. However, I saw a girl hooping at an outdoor circus meet in Bournemouth. She looked so graceful and fluid with the hoop, I had never seen anything like it! My partner was certainly keen for me to adopt the sexy hoop girl look and encouraged me to give it a go. My first adult hula hooping session finally happened at the Southern Lights Festival, 2007 in Dorset.
In the early days, I was totally obsessed with hooping. Taking every opportunity to learn new tricks. Each day when I returned home from work I would get straight onto YouTube for tutorials, inspiration and even uploading my own videos. In 2010 I took the HoopGirl teacher training course and ran local hoop classes. And of course, back then (2008 – 2011), these were the days before full-length HD videos and Instagram.
Falling Out of Love
Sadly though, as with any new obsession, the honeymoon period eventually came to end as I fell out of love with hooping. After a few years, I conquered all the tricks, lost my indoor hoop space (due to moving house) and if I’m honest got a bit bored. I lost interest in watching hoop videos online and my practice faded into nothing. On top of this our circus club closed and other interests, like my doll making became new priorities.
Inspiration Beckons Once More
However, I have recently experienced a desire to return to the hoop. A new wave of hoopers has emerged on Instagram. They move and use the hoop in totally different ways from when I was first learning. Developments in wedgie, wrap (fold), escalator combos have become far more advanced and exciting to watch.
I should acknowledge here, that this is a newer, faster style of hooping to me, which seems very unnatural when I spin. So, I therefore, wanted to re-explore the different styles of hooping and what it means to me.
Hoop Dance Styles
Big Hoop Hooping
Hula hoops were much bigger and heavier when I started out in 2008. Most hoops were made from the 20mm (or thinner 15mm) blue irrigation tubing. For newbie hoopers, the diameter was determined by the height of your belly button from the ground. It was generally considered easier to learn hooping with these heavier hoops. When compared to the smaller lighter childrens hoops, these hoops were more in proportion with the adult body and the extra weight helped to slow everything down, and therefore making it easier to master even the basics like waist hooping.
I love this video from Rayna McInturf, founder of Hoopnotica, because it demonstrations a more sensual form of hoop dance and really inspired the way I liked to hoop. In fact, as I understand, the name Hoopnotica was inspired by Rayna’s style. She quite literally ‘hoopnitized’ her audience as she performed a lot of on body hoop tricks! Sadly, and I may just be looking in the wrong places, this form of dancing with the hoop seems to have disappeared. Instead, it has been replaced with a quicker, more technical form as mentioned above.
Hooping started to evolve when the polypro hoops were introduced, which I believe happened around 2010. This is because several of favourite hoopers on YouTube were upgrading to this new type of hoop. Larger, heavier “adult hoops” enabled new hoopers to master the basic tricks, whereas the polypros offered experienced hoop dancers an opportunity to explore more off-body tricks such as isolation variations (iso-pops) and wedgie tricks as previously described.
Polypro is a much lighter plastic, so naturally spins around the body a lot faster. When I changed over to the polypro hoops I needed had to re-learn some of the body tricks and adapt how I hooped to compensate for the change in weight and speed of my hoop.
The smaller lighter polypro hoops also gave rise to twin hooping. This style of hoop dance uses two hoops. It borrows and adapts tricks from poi spinning and focuses mostly on off body tricks. This can be a fun alternative to singular hula hooping and certainly increases the level of challenge.
Hoop Dance is Awesome
It does not really matter whether you are an experienced or newbie hoop dancer. The fact is, this is an amazing skill to have for your physical and mental well being. As with any creative discipline though, avoid the temptation to compare your style with others because that is when fear and stagnation occurs. We all have something to offer. What is your favourite style of hooping? What frustrates you. Comment below and share your ideas.