[Hooping.org welcomes BBC Radio listeners. Before our finalists return tomorrow for our Hooping Idol Reunion Wrap-up, Hooping.org columnist Abby Schwartz interviews the Hooping Idol himself.]
Thanks to the magic of Skype, I had the pleasure of sitting down face to face with Hooping.org’s first ever Hooping Idol, 30-year-old Nick Broyd, to talk about his hoop journey and what the future holds for this charismatic hooper from Bristol, England. True to form, Nick had me laughing throughout our conversation, which included an introduction to his duck Molly (the sidekick of Dr. Spin Bad from his James Bond video) and an interruption from his smoke alarm [Do you need to leave? No-- someone is burning my dinner, I think.]
AS: I understand you’ve only been hooping since September 2010 and it was your girlfriend who got you started.
NB: Yes, my girlfriend at the time was Emma Kerr (founder of Hooping Mad) and I’d been carrying her hoops for a couple of years. I think Sharna Rose refers to that as being a Hoop Widow. Emma gradually and patiently broke down my resistance to trying the hoop. I also noticed at the festivals last summer that everyone seemed to have a hoop except me. When we came back from Burning Man in September, I immersed myself in Emma’s classes. She’s an amazing teacher. I went to about four classes a week to pick up the basics. Then Hooping Mad hosted SWhoop (South West Hoop Conference) and it was my first exposure to lots of hoopers in one space for several days. I remember the following Monday thinking I wish I did this all the time.
AS: How did you decide to enter Hooping Idol?
NB: A few different people in the UK told me I should enter. I was unsure about it at first, although it may not have seemed that way. I started as a bit of an insular hooper, which I think completely changed. By the end, I was really comfortable with the camera.
AS: Our first glimpse of you was you sitting in a bubble bath. You set the stage immediately for what would become your trademark throughout the competition: your sense of humor. You cemented that impression the following week by wearing teal spandex pants and a matching headband during 80s Week. Are you a funny guy in your private life?
NB: (laughs) I like to think so, but I’m not going to say I’m a funny guy. I think it’s a British thing. To kind of laugh at yourself. Prior to getting into hooping I always wanted to be more extroverted. Hooping has given me an outlet to be expressive and an audience to perform for.
AS: Has hooping led to your being more outgoing in other areas of your life?
NB: I’m much more chilled out now. I was always relaxed, but I’m now more comfortable with who I am and what I want to do. I went through a period where I tried a lot of different jobs that didn’t mean a whole lot to me. Now I do this. I help run Hooping Mad, which is basically the largest hula hooping company in the UK. We teach classes and workshops. I actually came on board last summer as an admin and thought, well, why am I doing admin? That’s another reason I picked up a hoop. I actually taught for three hours this afternoon.
AS: Let’s talk about the competition for a bit. What was your favorite entry?
NB: I really enjoyed the last one. It was the least stressful and we filmed it in about two hours. I had a good time with it and liked getting my friends involved.
AS: Your videos have all had terrific production value.
NB: That’s Emma.
AS: Take us through the process of putting together a video.
NB: It was a team effort. Once Philo announced the challenge for that week, we would talk it over at the pub and come up with some ideas. On Wednesday, the results would come out and [knowing I was still in the competition] we’d find some costumes. We’d film on Thursday, then Emma and I would edit Thursday night/Friday morning. Lots of people were involved, including Kay [Dent, another contestant].
AS: Was there a lot of choreography involved or did you just let it flow and hoop in the moment when filming?
NB: Most of it was in the moment. In the Pimp video, for example, some scenes were obviously choreographed, but all the freestyle hooping was just me in the moment.
AS: During Flow Week, your entry expanded the definition of what hooping in flow can look like. Even your choice of music (B.B. King’s The Thrill is Gone) was unexpected, and it really worked. In that video, you contrasted your own masculine yet elegant style with an alter ego in a long dress, basically spinning in slow-mo. Talk to us about what you were thinking.
NB: It really came down to poking fun at myself. There was that aspect of what flow in hooping is supposed to be. I thought I pulled some good moves in that dress (laughs). No, it was just fun to dress up and poke fun at myself a little bit. There were some great entries that week and I don’t know if mine was perceived as well as I would have liked.
AS: Christabel seemed to get what you were going for.
NB: I was really pleased that she got it, actually.
AS: How has your style changed since you entered Hooping Idol?
NB: My style has changed massively. Christabel commented during 80s Week that I’ve got to watch my planes and address the audience. Now when I perform I know where the audience is and I present myself to it. I’ve also started using a poly pro hoop more often, rather than MDPE, which is a slightly heavier, bigger plastic. The poly pro allows me to be a lot lighter with my touch. I still like to jump and leap and carry on, but now I’m trying to think about how my body moves the hoop rather than how the hoop moves my body. I’m also a lot more confident with the hoop.
AS: What’s happened to you since winning Hooping Idol?
NB: I’ve been drunk (laughs). I’ve been celebrating a bit. I’m actually on BBC Radio Bristol today [Listen: He's on at 2hrs.48.]. I’ve been teaching classes as well.
AS: Any advice for someone who wants to get into making hoop videos?
NB: All you need is a flip cam and iMovie or something like that. Just have some good ideas, good costumes, some nice flowy moves. It doesn’t have to be outrageous tricks. I don’t think I do lots of tricks. I think I just like to dance and just flow. I’m really into the dance rather than lots of tricks.
Nick and I spoke more about the incredible support he has received from the UK hooping community and his deep appreciation to Philo and the Hooping Idol judges, his fellow contestants and everyone who took the time to vote throughout the competition. He would love to see Hooping Idol return every year and expressed an interest in being a judge in the next competition. Before we wrapped up our interview, I wanted to get his advice to those of us who are looking for ways to improve our hooping experience.
AS: In my Hooping.org column, I write from a beginner’s perspective. What advice can you offer someone like me?
NB: Go with your mistakes. If you’re moving the hoop and it doesn’t go where you want it to go, that’s a good thing. See where you go after that. That’s the best advice I got when I was starting to work things out, and I am still working things out. Always go with your mistakes and just enjoy it.
AS: What you are doing is working and people are responding. Final question: what is next for you, Nick?
NB: Summer. Lots of festivals and events to attend. I’m going to enjoy the moment as best as I can. I am saying yes to everything at the moment. Say yes to everything and have a good time. That’s the future for me.