You might be one of the talented few who harbors memories of fun times spent hula-hooping during the endless summer days of childhood. Getting a plastic hoop to spin around my waist and keep it there through the motions of my body was a skill that seemed to magically appear when I entered high school. Until then it evaded me. If the Hoopnotica team had their instructional hoopdance DVDs available in the ‘80s, I’m sure I would have been a hooping star. Why am I so confident? Their step-by-step, detailed instructions had my five-year-old hooping on her waist within one viewing of Hoopnotica: Hoopdance Basics - Beginner, Level 1 combined with several brief, self-initiated practice sessions.
Hoopdancing has a grassroots history that stretches back ten years or so, a fusion of ‘50s-style hula-hooping and sensual, free-flowing dance. In recent years it has emerged from clubs and outdoor festivals as a legitimate art form and fitness technique. Waves of talented instructors are now breaking down hoopdance moves into systematic, replicable steps and Hoopnotica is on the forefront of that wave. With the release of Hoopnotica’s beginner level instructional DVDs in 2008 under the Acacia label, anyone from clubbers to housewives and children can learn to hoop in their own living room.
Before heading into the instructional portion of each disc, the basic requirements for hooping safely are described. The minimum clear space recommended is eight square feet. I’d recommend more if you plan on doing large, spinning halos, or dancing across the floor in your hoop. Each level starts with a static, stretching warm-up; the second level adds an active warm-up based on the techniques learned in level one.
Lead instructor Rayna McInturf carefully breaks down each basic technique – pointing out “power points” that need to be pushed into, and clearly explaining the finer details necessary for success. McInturf is the founder and director of programming for Hoopnotica. A stunning hoopdancer, she was voted Hooping.org’s Female Hooper of the Year for 2007. To watch her is to instantly see why — graceful and poised, she’s poetry in motion. Set against an ethereal, near luminous set, she glows. A bit different than other dance/workout DVDs, all of the vocal instruction is laid over the video footage. When you're hooping up and down the entire length of your body, there’s nowhere to hide a cordless mic.