Picking up the hoop can be life changing. Whether it’s weight loss, finding inner peace and joy, or making new friends, stepping into the circle can have a huge impact on our lives. We often, however, keep these transformational stories to ourselves, sharing them with only a few fellow hoopers or a particular group. Sensing the power of our collective stories, and the impact they could have on a wider audience, Emma Bice of Emma Bice Performance Art, a filmmaker and Loyola University student, set out to share hoopers’ stories in her new documentary, And Then I Started Hooping.
Like many of us, 20-year-old Emma found hooping to be a huge benefit, and, as a result, she feels connected to her documentary subject. “I moved to Chicago away from my family and friends and hadn’t quite found a place I belonged. There was a hula-hoop club on campus that I decided to join and I ended up falling in love with hooping. It’s been my savior here in Chicago,” she said.
When Emma, a film and dance major, first came up with the idea for her documentary, she thought she would make a short 10-minute piece, doing interviews in the Chicago area about how hooping helps people. All that changed when she met Baby Jane, a hooper from Tennessee who uses hooping to help her cope with breast cancer. After hearing her incredible story, Emma knew she and co-director, Akash Patel, had to make a feature-length film, and look beyond Chicago for other inspirational hoopers.
Of all the amazing people Emma has encountered on her filmmaking journey, the woman who stands out the most to her is Liz, a hooper who suffers from brain damage. “If hula hooping has improved anyone’s life dramatically, it’s hers. I don’t want to give away all the details, but it’s such an inspiring story and I can’t wait to share it with the world.” She also met some well known hoopers like Rachael Lust. “She is seriously the sweetest girl,” Emma explained, adding, “She shared many of her adventures due to her recent hooping fame, and how hooping has drastically changed her life. Hooping is now her job, and she travels just about every weekend.”
Making the film, which is a completely extracurricular project for Emma, has been a long, but rewarding experience. She and Akash were blessed with a summer of shooting without technical problems, and they had no issue finding hoopers willing to share their stories. However, as with most indie films, budgeting was an issue, but, thanks to the help of the hooping community, they were able to finish filming and are now spending the cold winter months in post production.
Emma would like to finish the film in April and the release date has not been set. “We’re going to send it to some film festivals, and those festivals usually require that you don’t share it with the public until after you’re finished with the festival circuit. As for the release, we plan to sell DVDs, stream it online, and sell the rights for hooping organizations around the world to have premiere parties.” Whenever it rolls out, we’re looking forward to seeing And Then I Started Hooping. In the meantime, you can follow her filmmaking process on the And Then I Started Hooping Facebook page.
Contributor Liz Frederiksen was a rhythmic gymnastics performer with Ritmika in the ‘80s/‘90s and participated in the SkyDome (Roger’s Centre) opening ceremonies and Argos football halftime shows in Toronto. After two decades away from rhythmics, she discovered hoop dance and is having fun learning the on-body skills to go with her off-body tricks. She’s a social media consultant and lives in the GTA with her husband, cat and growing collection of hoops! She’s on Twitter and Pinterest.