Hooping.org: So how did you end up starting to perform?
Jo: I got a call from Bunny asking me if I would perform with her troupe The Hoopaholics. As someone who had never performed anything in her life, ever, I was terrified! But with the support and encouragement of the amazing hoopers around me, I got on stage, did my thang, and experienced my first ever round of applause for hula hooping. Now look at me, what a show pony!
Hooping.org: Ha Ha! I love it. So were you teaching in Australia? Or did that happen when you moved to the UK?
Jo: I began teaching for Hoop Empire in Australia and attended Bunny’s amazing Teacher Training and generally soaked up the hooping life. When my partner at the time asked if I’d move over to England with him, I jumped at the opportunity to live in another country. We moved to Brighton which is a beautiful seaside town with a definite hippie vibe, but no real hoop scene. I started up some hoop classes while I searched for a 9-5 job in my professional field. Except when I was offered what I thought was my ‘ideal job’, I paused. Hooping was taking off. I was making new friends and loving my hoop-centric life. I made what was an agonizing decision at the time and turned down a secure, well paying ‘career’ for an uncertain but exciting future as a hula hooper.
Hooping.org: Exciting indeed. So what does your hooping life look like today?
Jo: I’m teaching six hoop classes a week – beginners, continuers and intermediate levels – and some private classes too. I perform around the country at festivals, corporate events and private parties. I spend my weekends running kids parties, hens parties and teaching workshops at community events. I’ve just set up a hoop teacher training course as well and I’m making handmade hoops. If you told me 2 years ago that this would be my life, I would have laughed and called you mad. I’m supremely grateful that I made the choice to follow my passion and leap into the unknown world of self-employment and hula hooping.
Hooping.org: So obviously hooping has changed your life. Can you elaborate on that some more?
Jo: Hooping is my life now! I’ve got a job that I adore. I have made dear friends with the most incredible people both in my local Brighton hoop community, within the UK, Europe and beyond! I even snagged the love of my life when he saw me hooping at a festival and came over to talk to me about it, and now he’s an amazing hooper himself. I could go on.
Hooping.org: Yay for love! What are you currently working on?
Jo: Hmm, because it’s so fun and exciting to make my living hula hooping and to work for myself, two things I never dreamed were possible, I have a tendency to work ALL THE TIME. And this can lead to the work and business side of my life overshadowing my passion. Picking up a hoop and thinking ‘Oh man, I’ve got to hoop again today’ is an awful feeling, but one that comes up when I’ve been working too hard, too late and overcommitting myself. After a burn-out earlier this year where I literally couldn’t get out of bed for a week! Now I’ve been working on giving myself breaks, trying to keep to regular “office” hours (i.e. no answering emails at midnight), and making sure I take time off during the week when I’ve worked all weekend. Plus I’m really enjoying going to our local hoop jams and dancing for pleasure, release and freedom, rather than worrying about learning new moves and tricks. I am enjoying playing with some new two hoop hinges though – stay tuned for a tutorial coming your way soon! That elusive 5 hoop split is always calling me too, I just need to focus and train it properly to make it happen.
Hooping.org: Can you share a favorite hooping memory or two?
Jo: World Hoop Day in Brighton last year was incredible. A group of about 30 of us had hired a hall each week for a month to learn the choreography, and on the big day we dressed up and went out into the centre of town. Most of the hoopers had never even hooped in public before, let alone performed! We rocked out a flash mob which stopped passersby and got us in the local paper. We even got kicked out of the square by security, much to our amusement. The energy was electric and everyone was so excited that we did it another two times in different locations. What I loved about this event too was that it grew organically from within our hoop community – both internationally with thanks to Tink and locally. It wasn’t me the hoop teacher setting it up and running it, everyone involved played a part in the organization and creation of the experience. And these events happened all around the globe. I can’t wait for 12/12/12!
Hooping.org: Awesome. I thought you would probably bring up Spark! Circus though.
Jo: That was my other thought! Earlier this year I had the privilege of leading a team of spectacular international volunteer circus performers with Spark! Circus. Each year we come together to bring joy to groups of disadvantaged children in refugee camps, migrant schools, hospitals and orphanages along the Thai Burmese border. I had so many amazing experiences there, but my fondest hooping memory was arriving at a school with a truckload of hoops and being told in broken English that we were to do our workshop in the temple! We had a bunch of kids spinning it up in front of an enormous statue of Buddha, who, I must say, looked mighty pleased at the turn of events.
Hooping.org: So cool. What quality do you most admire in a hooper?
Jo: The ability to laugh at yourself! I’ve always said that the reason hooping attracts so many incredible and lovely people is that in order to first pick up a hoop, you’ve got to be willing to look a little bit silly. Sometimes you can get so stuck in your own head, worrying about what you look like, what other people can do you that you can’t, what tricks you’ve haven’t learned yet. It’s easy to forget that you’re just spinning a bit of plastic around! That’s why I need my amazing hooping friends to remind me to let go of all that mental chatter and just feel how great it is to be moving my body and playing like a child again.
Hooping.org: Amen! So, any advice for our hoopers that are just starting out?
Jo: Get involved with your local hoop community and if you don’t have one, start one! Cultivate non-comparison too. I recommend this article by Caroleeena to all hoopers, new and old. Ultimately we’re hooping for fun and enjoyment, so try not to compare yourself to others, just enjoy the process and laugh!! Be as silly as possible, as much as possible. It’s the best way to get over yourself, let go of your ego and have fun. Don’t know how to be silly? Hang out with some kids and they’ll show you the way.
Hooping.org: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Jo: Teaching is my passion and so I’m really excited to be sharing my hoop teacher training course in Brighton this year. I was blown away by the response when I announced it – I had to add two more dates! I’ve got people all around the UK coming down to do it, and even someone coming from Russia! I’m also super excited about the Brighton Flow Festival, a twice yearly hoop event here. And I’ll be heading to the US in a few short weeks to hoop it up at Burning Man for the first time, then teaching at the Lake Tahoe Flow Festival and Hoopcamp! If you’re at any of these events please come and say hi! I’d love to meet you all in person.