Monthly Archives: January 2012

Hoop Dancers to Compete for Top Honors

Hoop Dancer It’s that time of year once again and The Heard Museum World Championship Hoop Dance Contest will be happening soon. Combining artistry, sheer athleticism and cultural traditions, the top American Indian and Canadian First Nations hoop dancers from the United States and Canada will once again be making their way to Phoenix, Arizona, for the prestigious title of world champion. The two-day event takes place at the Heard Museum on February 11th and 12th. Make your plans to join the 22nd annual celebration.

At last year’s competition, a new world champion was crowned: Tony Duncan of Mesa. The former four-time teen champion, now grown with a family of his own, achieved one of his life goals, winning the world champion hoop dance title. Duncan (Apache/Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara) is also a member of the world-famous Yellow Bird Indian Dancers, composed of the rest of the Duncan family. In addition to the Duncans you can expect to see seasoned competitors and crowd favorites such as current senior champion Brian Hammill (Ho-Chunk); Jasmine Pinckner (Crow Creek Sioux) and Lowery Begay (Diné). Celina Cada-Matasawagon (Ojibway), known for dancing during the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, is also expected to compete for the senior title. Plus three-time champion Alex Wells (Lil Wat Nation) is returning to the Heard Museum stage after a hiatus. Expect the longtime Canadian favorite to give it his all to recapture hoop glory.

For many years, the intertribal hoop dance has expanded to incorporate new and creative designs and extremely intricate footwork. Each dancer presents a unique variation of the hoop dance, weaving in aspects of his or her distinct tradition and culture. Individual routines are presented using as few as four to as many as 50 hoops, which are manipulated to create a variety of designs including animals, butterflies and globes. Dancers are judged on a slate of five skills: precision, timing/rhythm, showmanship, creativity and speed.

Hooper Bowl Fever Heats Up

Super Bowl Village 2012

Super Bowl Village 2012

In Indianapolis, Indiana, fifteen minutes before the opening of the Super Bowl Village yesterday, blues rock music blaring from loudspeakers, The New York Times reports that a man who “looked like Steve Buscemi after a swing shift in a coal mine hula-hooped with a group of Hooters waitresses. The man looked too grungy and stiff to operate a seat belt successfully, let alone a hula hoop. Yet he kept the hoop around his hips with a series of spasmodic jolts from his upper torso, inspired by the music, or the women egging him on (while stepping cautiously away), or perhaps by his very proximity to the Epicenter of Awesome.” We’re looking forward to more hoopenings and if you aren’t going to Indy for the big one, you can still take part in Hooper Bowl Sunday festivities or create your own.

Hooping Community: Making It Happen

Circle [’s Editor Philo Hagen takes a spin at community.]

by Philo Hagen

When I relocated from San Francisco to Los Angeles two years ago, one of the first things on my list was to find the hoop community. After seven years of making Bay Area Hoopers happen every single Sunday, I was really looking forward to being a participant, a hooper among hoopers. I wasn’t quite sure what was in store for me though. A few years earlier as a visitor I’d attended a balmy Sunday afternoon hoopjam near the boardwalk that was run by a congenial blonde who ruled her boombox with an iron fist. Her lack of musical democracy (and taste according to some) was apparently responsible for that other Sunday afternoon hoopjam, the one that took place just a few hundred yards down the beach. While one group spun it up in the grass to the Top 40 favorites of yesteryear, the other devoured a steady diet of sand and hard driving techno. Which group would I align myself with? Neither actually. Both had ceased to exist. Local hoopers told me of other hoop groups with once exciting periods on the L.A. scene that had come and gone. In a city that undoubtedly has more hoopers per square mile than anywhere else in the world, I was really beginning to wonder what was up with Los Angeles.

It is interesting to note here, as well, that experts routinely use whatever societal ills are on the rise in L.A. as the American social barometer of what’s to come for the rest of the nation. Maybe it’s that the staggering size of the city and its 10 million inhabitants are such an easily viewable petri dish for the entertainment industry, who immediately translate whatever is going down into music, movies and television. I’m no sociologist, but when people pointed at L.A.’s rise in gang violence years ago, most everyone believed it was something that could only happen in L.A., until it happened where they lived too. Things just seem to happen here first and hooping is no exception.

When you follow nearly all of the roads of the modern hooping revolution as we know it, you ultimately land here in Tinseltown. Even if you want to go all 1950’s hula hoop fad about it, you’ll still wind up here in the Knerr family garage in South Pasadena. If Los Angeles really does have this ahead-of-the-pack foreshadowing nature though, could it be that what we are having for dinner is going to wind up on your menu soon? Perhaps our challenges have already arrived. When the largest hooping community in the world comes to a halt, what exactly happened and just what did we decide to do about it?