“So, tell me about yourself. What do you like to do for fun?”
“Well, I like to hula hoop.”
“Hula hoop?” *puzzled look on face*
“Yes, hula hoop”
As I repeat my answer a second time, I can almost see my acquaintance’s mind time travel back to the 1950’s when hula hooping meant keeping the recently popularized Wham-o toy around your waist for as long as you can. Needless to say, this common conversation with strangers and acquaintances always leads to me explaining what modern day hoop dance is and what hooping means to me. So, let’s take a look at the various types of hula hooping, shall we?
When hula hooping is mentioned in conversation, this is typically what people think of. They imagine the plastic kids toy that was popularized in the 1950’s and introduced by the company Wham-O. Perhaps they even imagine a group of elementary-aged kids competing in a hula-hoop contest—who can keep the hula-hoop around their waist the longest? This type of hooping is all fun and games, and these hoops can be purchased in practically any department store or toy store.
Kelly Osbourne was featured on the cover of the May 2013 issue of Self magazine. Not only was she sporting her super sexy and slimmer self, but she was also rocking some hula-hoops! Hooping for fitness and exercise has become increasingly popular as people search for fun ways to exercise. Instead of boring treadmills and stair-climbers, we now have things like zumba and hula-hooping. And hey, why not? When you look at the physical benefits, hula hooping is phenomenal.
Here’s a snippet on hula-hooping found in the Livestrong.com article, “What Muscles Does Hula Hooping Work?”:
“The American Council on Exercise, or ACE, put the hula hoop to the test and found it meets their standards. Hula hooping can burn calories, get your heart pumping and improve your balance and flexibility. ACE also indicates hula hooping can be a source of strengthening and toning for your arms, legs, and abdomen.”
Hula hoops used for exercise are typically weighted (anywhere from 1-5 pounds). They can be used for simple waist hooping which tones and strengthens your core/abdomen, or you can incorporate various movements to work other parts of your body.
Hoop dance has long been a part of Native American culture; the hoop symbolizes the circle of life—it has no beginning and no end. In this type of hoop dance, the dancers use anywhere from one to thirty hula-hoops to tell a story. These hoops are used to create shapes that symbolize story-telling elements such an animals.
The annual World Hoop Dance Competition is held at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona where up to 80 Native American hoop dancers compete each year. The dancers are judged on precision, timing/rhythm, showmanship, creativeness, and speed.
The birth of modern day hoop dance is commonly attributed to the funky jam band, The String Cheese Incident. In the late 90s and early 2000’s, while performing at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, band members of the SCI threw large hula-hoops into the crowd, and so began the beautiful art we know today as hoop dance or simply, hooping.
In this form of hoop dance, the hooper interprets music while incorporating the hoop into his or her dance moves. There’s a sense of synchronicity between the beats of the music and the hooper’s movements.
Hoop dancers may use one or multiple hoops during their routines. These hoops are usually fairly light and are commonly made out of polyethylene (PE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), or polypropylene (PPE or polypro) tubing.
There is an annual World Hoop Day that occurs each year in which hoopers from across the globe learn a choreographed routine and celebrate their passion for hooping. This hooping holiday also raises money to buy hoops for children in orphanages, schools, and villages across the world.
A hula-hoop is just one apparatus that may be used during a rhythmic gymnastic performance. Other apparatuses include clubs, ribbon, ball, and rope. These performances may be done by one individual or by a group of five teammates. So, what exactly is rhythmic gymnastics with a hula-hoop? It’s a combination of dance, ballet, and gymnastics while manipulating a hoop. Fundamental hoop movements include rotation of the hoop around the hand or body, swings, circles, throws/tosses, and passes through and over the hoop. Fundamental body movements include leaps, balances, pivots, flexibilities, etc.
Circus hooping is just as the name implies; it is a type of hooping that is commonly found in circus performances such as Cirque De Soleil. This type of hooping incorporates dramatic hoop tricks to “wow” the audience. Circus hoopers may use one hoop or multiple hoops. In addition, they may perform to music or they may be part of a show that tells a story through the various circus acts.
If you’ve seen the popular Cher and Christina Aguilera movie, you may have an idea of what burlesque is. But for those of you who may not know, burlesque is a literary, dramatic, or musical work intended to cause laughter by using mockery. Often times, these burlesque acts include a striptease where women strip down to pasties. So, imagine a humorous striptease act that incorporates a hula hoop—that is burlesque hooping!
Hoop yoga is the art and practice of yoga while incorporating a hula-hoop. The hula-hoop adds balance to various poses in addition to extending various stretches.
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