When hula hoops took the nation by storm in the 1950s, did anyone expect for them to become a feat of performance art and rhythmic gymnastics? Did the creators of the hula hoop predict that there would be performers putting on shows with their hoops in routines that challenge their strength, endurance and grace? Hula hooping is a fun pastime, but some amazing performers have taken it very seriously, giving the rest of us a beautiful show of dazzling moves and incredible acrobatics.
This short video, for example, pays homage to the roots of the hula hoop while giving us a fabulous display of trick moves. Her cute costume calls to mind the beach movies of the early 50s and 60s, while the manipulates the hoops with a smile and even the occasional fourth-wall reference. The best treat comes from the light show when she twirls her hoops in the dark!
Speaking of the dark, here’s a video of a performer who literally lights up the stage! Using six LED-lit hoops, she displays incredible power in her moves. Her legs alone are grace and coordination. If she looks serious, it’s because she’s seriously concentrating - moves like standing one leg that’s twirling a hoop while stretching the other straight up to twirl a second hoop do not come without practice, determination, and focus! This video seems to have been made to highlight the lights, and what an excellent choice they made. This girl makes them fly.
For the girl in this video, hula hooping is just easy. Check out the smile on her face as she does one-handed front extension flips in time to her hoop, and that’s only the beginning! She never stops and hardly slows down as she adds four more hoops to her routine. The sleek glittering bodysuit and muted lighting only add to the showcase of this elegant performance.
The muted elegance of the last video is contrasted with the glamour of this montage. She is a high-energy performer, dancing as much as using the hoops. The power is there - she shows this with a turn with around 20 hoops at once, and in the ending, which you have to see to believe - but she conceals it with gorgeous costuming and even a hint of storytelling. She looks like a pixie and beguiles us with her charm, but don’t dismiss the intense concentration and tremendous physical exertion in her moves!
These girls are the professionals of the future. They are rhythmic gymnasts competing in meets that could lead to Olympic gold. Hula hoops are common in rhythmic gymnastics, and genuine hula hooping is just as much part of their routines as the fancy maneuvers and tossing and bouncing around of the hoops.
There are more pretty costumes here, but this is an athletics competition, so they are there to showcase the movement and vigor of the performers. Note the precision of some of the moves, though, even when the hoop is tossed high in the air, and how much the hoops is an extension of the girls’ performance.
So far, one would think this was an art dominated by women, but here is a video of a male performer. What makes this one striking is how, in this performance, the one hoop is more like a dance partner than a prop or accessory. In some of the moves, the dancer even seems to be at one with the hoop, segueing from pose to pose with the trust and confidence that the hoop is a part of him.
There are no flashy sets or costumes - the performance seems to be held in a gymnastics studio and the performer is wearing a simple grey sweatshirt and white sweatpants - because the show is about the performance, not special effects or pretty colors. In fact, this performance seems to tell a story, and it’s a sad one. The dancer almost treats the hoop like a living partner in some sequences, with real pain and longing, love and loss. The result is astounding.
Smiles? Check. Nice set and lighting? Got it. Flowing and attractive costume? It’s there. But this lady adds the thrill of fiery torches attached to her hoop, for a spectacular thrill. All of the classic tricks are there, too, but the control and daring of including fire puts her at the head of the class!
Will you be the next professional hula hooper? With practice and dedication, you very well could be! But you’ll never know if you don’t pick up that first hoop and give it a try! To aid in that endeavor, there are lots of videos to show you the moves. Many, like this one, are aimed at beginners, so get your hula hoop and start practicing today!
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