It all started for Bex Burton in August 2006 when she was in the cast of Agora II, a modern dance performed in a 50K square foot empty pool in Brooklyn, choreographed and directed by Noemie LaFrance. In a vignette called “Hoops and Whistles,” half the cast danced and sang through tube whistles while the other half of the cast danced with hoops, led by Malcolm Stuart. The hoopers in the cast were taught three hoop moves, and Bex asked to borrow a hoop so she could practice at home. She admits, “I was a little touch and go with the hoop for almost a year, being a dance snob and not wanting to ‘dance with toys.’” Despite her initial resistance, the hoop kept crossing her path. “I ran into Stefan Pildes of GrooveHoops and Brent Van Dyke in the subway carrying piles of hoops before I knew them, I saw a now-girlfriend of mine hooping at Decom ’07, and I was gifted a private hoop lesson with Miss Saturn by a boyfriend. Almost a year after Agora, I decided to ‘get serious’ about dancing with toys, and haven’t put the hoop down since then.”
Hooping.org: Six years after the hoop entered your life, what does your hooping life look like now?
Bex: Hooping is now a huge part of my life. Hooping, along with Pilates and Thai Massage, are three services I offer through my movement business Sense of Motion. I teach classes, workshops and private lessons, and I perform on stage, at events, parties, gatherings, festivals and civic events.
Hooping.org: Wow, that’s a lot of movement in your life! How do you find time in your schedule to hoop?
Bex: I’ve been through many different cycles of hoop practice, from hooping every day, to not being able to get in my hoop for weeks at a time for various reasons including time constraints and injury. I’ve reached a nice relationship with my practice in the last year. I now have 4-6 hours of scheduled flight time on my calendar each week, and an additional 3-4 hours of conditioning work to balance the Hooping. Sometimes I get more, but I really try to honor the time I set aside for the hoop. Likewise, I try not to beat myself up for missing flight time, though I feel the repercussions not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually, so I try to maintain.
Hooping.org: How has hooping changed your life?
Bex: Hooping has changed my life in so many ways. It’s given me the opportunity to teach dance once again in my life, and an opportunity to lead dancers through more than just their movement development. Hooping has enveloped me in a local hoop family as well as an international network of potential friends, colleagues and co-conspirators. Hooping has helped me grow more fearlessly toward my authentic self. I often hoop through heartache, fear and anxiety, and the hoop routinely answers with joy, inspiration, and a welcome home. It was this process that blessed me with a vision to to call 100 hoopers together in choreography, and in that my most challenging but rewarding project was born, HELLO!100. You can get a cheeky glimpse behind the scenes of the HELLO!100 video shoot.
Hooping.org: Tell us more about HELLO!100 and what else you’re working on these days.
Bex: My plate is full of hoops! I’m currently directing the edit of the official HELLO!100 video, documenting my 100-person hoopdance performed by the New York City hoop community at the Figment Project in June. I just taught at the Return to Roots Hoop Gathering at the beginning of August. I’m preparing to dig deeper as a teacher in Anah Reichenbach’s New York teacher training later this month. And I’m celebrating my 6th year hoopiversary on my birthday, on my roof, reflecting on my journey and working out infinite possibilities in the hoop. (I’m obsessed with tosses, body rolls and everything cradle/chicken grip!)
Hooping.org: Happy birthday AND happy hoopiversary! What are your favorite hooping memories?
Bex: Favorite hooping memory #1: Finding my Sense of Motion in the hoop for the first time in a deserted Brooklyn park in the dead of winter. Favorite hooping memory #2: Dancing an actualized dream: in a sea of 100 bright, beautiful, glittery hoopers!!
Bex: I have such a varied taste in hoop music. I gravitate toward variations of slower, electronic-based, beautiful, funky, bassy, sometimes folky, international, old timey, classic rock and Motown, and too often a junkie for pop. In my most recent workshop I played music by RJD2, ill gates, The Kronos Quartet, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Justin Timberlake, Jurassic 5, Simon and Garfunkel and David Holmes.
Hooping.org: What quality do you admire most in a hooper?
Bex: The outward personification of absolute internal joy and bliss state.
Hooping.org: Any advice for hoopers who are just beginning their hoop journey?
Bex: There is no one to compare yourself with, because there is only one you, and your hoopdance is unique. No one can possibly recreate how you feel inside your hoop because that feeling is authentic to you. Let that feeling rule your hoop and your movement, over appearance, association or any other external influence.
Hooping.org: Anything else you’d like to share?
Bex: I was recently featured on the “good news only” website (having nothing to do with hoops) HoopLaHa!