by Anne-Marie Emerson
The New Zealand hooping community came together for the second annual New Zealand HoopFest, held in the beautiful setting that is the Brookfields Outdoor Education Centre in Wainuiomata, near Wellington. The event attracted 75 hoopers from throughout New Zealand and all around the globe. Organizer Claire French of Frenchy Productions – known to everyone affectionately as “Frenchy” – says she was delighted to be able to bring international hoop stars to the event this year as well. “It’s been great to have so many super-skilled people here. Kenna Hoops is a friend of mine from the UK. She contacted me and said she was coming over this side of the world and would love to come and teach. Lisa Lu is from Germany, but she’s been doing work placement here in New Zealand. And KaytiBunny came all the way from the States.”Other instructors for the weekend were Spinnovation of France), as well as New Zealand-based instructors Deryn French from Hip Hoop, Ryn Hooligan, and Frenchy herself – giving the growing community of Kiwi hoopers a rare opportunity to learn from some of the world’s best. Workshops were held on elbow folds, jumps, multiple hoops, floorwork, hoop fitness, Cyr wheel, performance, and others. Frenchy says it is her hope that New Zealand HoopFest will probably become a bi-annual event, due to the constraints of running it entirely with volunteers. As the main organiser, she has to fit HoopFest and another-circus-themed festival – Under The Spinfluence, held in September – around her full-time work. “No-one gets paid from it – everyone just pitches in, and it means we can keep the ticket prices low. The main focus of HoopFest is on building community.”
Hooping is still very much a fringe activity in New Zealand, she says. “Hooping is still up and coming in New Zealand, it’s not really mainstream yet. And to be honest, it’s been a struggle just to break even. It’s a specialized kind of festival, so you really have to be into hooping to come to a hooping festival.” But she’s pleased to see the New Zealand hooping community growing as well. “I set up the New Zealand Hoopers page on Facebook about two years ago, and there were a few of us back then. Now have 200 members on that page, which is wonderful.”
Anne-Marie Emerson is a hoopdancer, hoopdance teacher and hoop-maker who lives in Whanganui, New Zealand. She is currently working to grow her local hooping community. She blogs about hooping [and other things] at www.hoopcandance.blogspot.com.