Hooping.org: So what does your Hooping Life look like these days?
Jewelz: I teach mostly in schools, after care activity centres, vacation programs and at festivals. I do hoop parties and have started up a new Fab Ab Challenge Attack program that will kick off in a few weeks. I don’t hoop everyday and think that I should, but someone very dear to me said “should” should not be in the dictionary! I hoop at least once a week. I did a trip in 2008/2009 to Asia and it was the meeting of certain people on this trip that planted the seed to work with less advantaged people, the hoop and to travel. I have had my own little business since 2009, Jewelz A Hoopz. Encouraged by Bunny to head out into the big wide hoop world I took the plunge. As I was earning a low wage, I was eligible for the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) program here in Australia where you do a small business management course for two months and put a business plan together and send it to the board to be approved or not. If you get approved, which I did, you then receive the unemployment benefit at the same time as you are starting up your business and regardless of what you earn you still get it.
Hooping.org: I love that. Does it fit in to your desire to work with the less advantaged?
Jewelz: Yes. After I started my own business I got to work with some special needs kids and found this incredibly challenging, but something that I really wanted to do. I got in contact with Arts Accessible and got onto their mailing list and involved in some of their free or cheap courses where people that work in the special needs industry get together. It was more networking and through that I got to work with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and their drama group. Kylie contacted me to come play with some hoops and the hoops became a metaphor to symbolize the “hoops” they need to jump through just to get through a day, and also the wheels of their wheelchairs. I was like a fairy that came out of Chris’s book into a magical world. We performed at the Sydney Opera House in June 2012.
Hooping.org: That’s so awesome! You’ve also been doing work with Spark! Circus too, right?
Jewelz: Yes! On that same 2008/2009 journey, I spent some time on Koh Phan Gan Island in Thailand and heard about a woman, Andrea, that ran a social circus that travelled to Northern Thailand, playing and working with disadvantaged kids. I knew one day in the future I wanted to do this and that one day came earlier this year when I joined Spark Circus. I had an amazing time and met Andrea and did the tour. And that same 2009/2009 journey seemed to be a journey to meet people I would meet again in my hooping life later on. In Cambodia I went to a home for former street kids, The Green Gecko Project in Siem Reap, and I had taken my hoops out to play with the kids. I asked the owner, Tania, about coming back to volunteer with the kids and teaching them hooping and she said as long as it works toward a show with costumes & makeup I could. Back then I wasn’t at that stage in my hoop life where I felt confident that I could do that, but in 2012 after Spark! Circus I went there with 50 hoops for the kids and in only five weeks we put on a show for their families & friends.
Hooping.org: I love that. So let’s talk about Hoopy Happenings.
Jewelz: Let’s see. I started up Australia’s first and only hooping retreat back in 2009, just because I wanted a whole weekend of hooping rather than going to Circus Fest. I still go to Circus Fest, but there are only two classes a day. Originally Hoopy Happenings was going to be a collaboration with four or five other hoopers, but when we discussed where and when, etc, it just never came to fruition. So one day I just said its going to be on this weekend and I figured out a price and place close to Sydney and we promoted it. It’s now in its 3rd year, coming up in November. It’s a lot of work and luckily I’ve always scraped through to cover costs with a little bit left over for me. I am just grateful to the community that they support it and I try not to stress out too much when I need more ticket sales. Bunny and Lisa, my sister who is now an amazing hooper as well, tell me each year, “Just breath Jewelz, the hoop universe will provide.” So here I am again this year breathing and trusting, trying real hard, that the hoopiverse will come through again.
Hooping.org: I’m sure it will. What are you currently working on otherwise?
Jewelz: I’m wanting to do more performance cause I’m still a big scaredy-pants when it comes to performance. Still finding my performing hoop way. Most people don’t believe me when I tell them that I get totally petrified when I have to perform, sweaty palms & underarms, butterflies in the tummy where they feel like they are about to burst forth into the world and sometimes I just feel like crying I get so nervous. So yeah this is something that I am working on.
Hooping.org: So how has hooping changed your life?
Jewelz: Well I was this total traveling bum, a bit of a hippie I suppose, except I don’t like to label myself as a hippie. I like to think of myself as nomadic. Anyways, I rarely wore makeup, hadn’t put chemicals in my hair for 22 years, nor lived in Sydney for that time either, and I hated pink for that long as well! All I can say is look at me now! I’m a sparkling pink, puzzykat, pixie faerie who’s still a traveling bum! Some things never change! I think being a hooper has unleashed this side of me that says now I can really wear whatever I want, the crazier & zanier the better!
Also, I always wanted to volunteer, but didn’t have a degree or anything so getting a volunteer job overseas wasn’t an option because I didn’t want to teach English. Yet through hooping I’ve been able to get volunteer jobs working with less advantaged kids and hopefully it’s going to be opening doors to be able to get funded in doing more of these kinds of projects. And you know my sister and I have always been close, even if we haven’t always lived in the same city or country, but the hoop has drawn us together even more. We have developed acts together now, she helps me with Hoopy Happenings and when I run away from Sydney she helps cover jobs and we are developing even more stuff together. So the hoop has made us even closer. I’m a pretty lucky hooper!
Hooping.org: Care to share a favorite hooping memory?
Jewelz: Being a part of Spark! Circus was one of my dreams coming true and there were so many favorite moments. I cried at the beginning because my dream was being realized. I cried at the end because the bond that we shared in those seven weeks and the smiles that we each helped put on the faces of those kids was just overwhelming. I love how having a hoop with you instantly brings on smiles. No matter what age – if they are young they love it & want to do it, if they are older it brings back fond memories to them. In Sydney on the trains most people will stick their heads in a book or in their phone or laptop and they try with all their might not to interact with others. Yet if I get on with my hoops they immediately spark interest, smiles and conversation and this is a fun and beautiful thing.
Hooping.org What quality do you most admire in a hooper?
Jewelz: I guess the same as what I admire in all people – honesty, openness, caring & loving. When someone is comfortable with where they are and who they are it shows in them as a person and it shows in their hooping. I admire genuine playfulness indeed! I think it amazing when people can do highly technical stuff & pull it off without dropping the hoop, but if they don’t have a personality on stage then it just doesn’t do much for me.
Hooping.org: Any advice for our hoopers that are just starting out?
Jewelz: Yes, it’s a hard one, but be happy with where you are at in your hooping. I remember in the beginning it would kill me seeing these other hoopers doing amazing tricks and I wanted to do them too. I didn’t like hooping in the park because people would stop and watch me and I didn’t want them to see me making mistakes, cause I’m a Leo. Thank goodness I got over that. Being able to practice the tricks that I was struggling with instead of doing flashy tricks to impress the onlookers was the next step. And for those people wanting to get out into the ever growing hoop world of teaching & performing I think finding your niche is really important. Learn from others, but don’t copy their style or way. Find your own, incorporate stuff into your style. Whether your style is meditation hooping, hoop dance, character based, cabaret, burlesque, circus style, highly technical or whatever it is, just enjoy it, love it and share it.
Hooping.org: Anything else you’d like to let our readers know?
Jewelz: Well, Hoopy Happenings 2012 is happening November 2nd – 5th and I would love to see you all there. We have great teachers on board this year as always, learning all sorts of things that’ll get people hooping from top to toe and spinning multiple hoops all over the body whilst dancing! And this year the following weekend is the Eclipse 2012 Festival near Cairns which is going to be one big event. So it’s a good time to come to Oz! Come see us!