by Philo Hagen
At this time last year, Rebecca Phipps found herself whirling in the wonder that is Hooping Idol, having thrown her hoop into the ring not even knowing exactly what she was in for. Several weeks later she found herself in the final three with a legion of fans and now, a year later, Rebecca returns to Hooping Idol – only this time she’s taking a special guest seat on the other side of the table – with the judges. How is she finding the experience? “The critiques are hard! I have a new found respect for the judges of last season,” she noted, adding, “These hoopers are all so amazing in their own ways.” And while Rebecca has been busy figuring out what she wants to say to Idol 2′s Top Ten Finalists, the real questions on our mind are how her Idol experience is sitting with her a year later, what the past year has been like and just what she’s been up to. This week we are excited to be turning the spotlight back on Rebecca Phipps as we interview our Hooper of the Week.
Philo: Before we get to the present, how did hooping start for you anyway and where?
Rebecca: I started hooping almost exactly 2 years ago after my husband bought some water hoops for my kids. I couldn’t hoop as a kid, but I watched my kids pick it up right away and being the horribly competitive person, something I never thought I would admit to being, I had to figure it out too! So after many days of throwing that thing around my waist I had the revelation to throw it in the other direction and lo and behold it stayed up! So it only stayed up for about 15 seconds. That was all I needed and I immediately blogged about my new success at being a circus performer extraordinare! I found some videos online and I was hooked! I wanted to move like that! I was determined! I was motivated!”
Philo: Don’t you think motivation is such a key ingredient?
Rebecca: I am still convinced that motivation is 95% of learning any new skill! Whatever your practice is, I believe that is what keeps us moving forward. When we feel like we have come to end of something, we lack hope, and hope motivates. The hoop for me is an ever evolving practice in my own movement! Just when I think I can’t move any different, something shifts and I find my heart trying to break free through my body in a new and more creative way. I like that! I think the key to keeping the spark alive for myself is meeting with other hoopers, getting to know them, and studying their movements. I don’t think we are called to be mimickers of each other, but I don’t think it hurts to change your thinking, to move the way you perceive someone else moves. After all it is your perception, so it is still uniquely yours.”
Philo: Awesome! Tell us more about your hoop life.
Rebecca: Well, the hoop has taken me on a great adventure these past 2 years, from hooping to memorize lyrics, to opening and running my own hoop shop, to teaching, competing, burning out, to healing. I started learning technique with a Hoopgirl DVD and I would use the time in my hoop to drill lyrics into my head for upcoming singing performances. For any singers or folks who need to memorize things, spinning is a great way to drill your brain and get it to stick! Anyway, I started making my own hoops shortly after I began and organized a local hoop jam in my yard. Our numbers grew pretty fast and we moved our little rogue group of hoopers out to the woods, then into a huge church gymnasium space where we were hosting 40 hoopers on a regular basis! From the demand for new hoops my business Hoopenanigan was born and flourished for about a year. I had to shut down my shop when I went back to work at my career as a cake artist.
Philo: Cake artist? Awesome. Maybe we’ll get back to that, but can you talk a little more about your hooping inspirations?
Rebecca: Sure! I’ve taken several workshops along the way, but one of my favorite of all times, and where I received my teaching certification was with Caroleena, who I absolutely adore! She may be one of the most supportive people in our community, but still manages to keep low profile humbleness about her. She is an amazing teacher and an all around beautiful human.
Philo: Agreed. So you were teaching then too, right?
Rebecca: Yes. After I got my certification I started teaching classes out of a pop-up shop studio here in town where I taught adult hoop fit, adult hoop dance, and a community kids hoop class. While the adult classes never got off the ground here to be honest, the kids classes were a highlight of my week!
Philo: Speaking of highlights, Hooping Idol.
Rebecca: Hooping Idol! Where to begin? You know it is funny, I think most of us threw our casting videos out there not knowing what to expect. I was shocked to have been chosen! It was a bitter sweet process for me in all honesty. While, like I said earlier, I am a very competitive person, I am very non-confrontational. I really like a challenge, but I dont like to be “challenged”. Does that make sense?
Rebecca: Actually the first week of judging hit me like a brick wall! I was not expecting the criticism, but now that I look back I am appreciative of it. I have grown up a lot in my hoop and have taken some advice to heart and left some behind, and do not feel bad one way or another. It was nice to grow from week to week and see big changes in my own personal hooping style and practice. Once I settled into the judging part of it all I really enjoyed getting to know the other hoopers too and still have very good friendships with several of them still!
Philo: I’ve seen you getting together with others and I thought that was so cool. So what was it like when it was over? And any advice for those who are on the path right now?
Rebecca Y’know, once Idol was over I understood the damage that competition can potentially have on your practice if you didn’t keep it in check. I was left with the feeling that I needed to perform, at which point I put my hoops down and took a break. Last summer I knew I needed to heal some things up between me and my hoop so I bought a pass to the Hoop Path 5 retreat and my world was officially rocked! To the core! It was time to heal, and heal up I did! I won’t go into the details, but will shamelessly promote this years Hoop Path 6 Bloom retreat!
Philo: When you found out your Persona Week Challenge video scored a Hoopie Award nomination, how did that feel?
Rebecca: I was surprised and it felt so good to know the community really appreciated it.
Philo: Any favorite hooping memories you want to share?
Rebecca: Hmmmm. One of my favorite hoop experiences was hooping it up at Red Rocks in Colorado with The Spin Summit crew! Those kids rock the party! Getting to spin with Danielle, Mary Beth, Nick, Sara and all of those guys was fantastic! And another great hoop memory was being able to fly Sam Resnicow down here for a workshop. He is by far one of my most favorite people and it was a blast to be able to hang out with him after we connected through Hooping Idol. I would love to eventually get several more of the contestants to come and teach for us too! Oh and I was just recently given the honor of performing at the Charleston premiere of The Hooping Life – where I was vastly under prepared, but had a blast in my strappy black jumpsuit! It was a great night, Kacey of Homespun Hoops did an amazing job organizing the event, and I give her mad props!
Philo: And you just did. So what’s it like watching Season 2 for you then?
Rebecca: It is nice to watch this years Hooping Idol unfold. The contestants are amazing! It is an honor to be able to judge this week for Slow Jams too. I really do have a new found appreciation for the judges from last year!
Philo: Any advice for those who were and are in the mix this year?
Rebecca: Hold tight to your hoop roots. Dig deep and let that place inside of you bubble up with who you are! It is in our sincerity that we are able to convey our hearts through our movement. You don’t have to prove a damn thing, but I promise if you let your heart speak out people will understand and feel more connected. And connectivity is a wonderful thing! Use this time to really push yourself to connect in creative, honest ways.
Philo: So true. The community responds to authenticity with leaps and bounds, don’t they? What’s next for you Rebecca?
Rebecca: Just being. I am still hooping and looking forward to Hoop Path 6 in a few weeks. I am delving back into my music and hoping to get into the studio to lay down the tracks for a short EP this year. I am working steady and hard at the custom cake shop where I work here in Florence called Let Them Eat Cake. I have been in the cake industry for almost 15 years and it hasn’t let go of me yet! In juxtaposition to that, I have also recently started up weight training and am looking forward to the effect that will have on my hooping!
Rebecca Phipps lives in Florence, South Carolina, USA.
Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He’s been spinning things up online and off since April 2003.