Last night, in a suspense filled Hooping Idol 5 Season Finale Results Show, we revealed the winner of our fifth exciting season of Hooping Idol. If you haven’t already watched it, please do. It’s quite the reminder of just how exciting this season was! Two months ago, while watching 60 auditions, I clicked play and saw the smiling face of Courtney Fagras from Bellingham, Washington, USA. I vaguely remembered seeing an audition from her last year, but other than that she’d previously been totally off my radar. Given that she was giving it a second shot this year, I thought we should go ahead and include her in the mix. Little did I know, however, she was going to be the one to really capture our hearts and spin her way to win it all.
Consistently doing well with the judges from week to week, Courtney’s response from viewers took a big jump during Pop Music Week and kept right on climbing from there. But who is Courtney Fagras, our new Hooping Idol? Let’s find out! Join us for a very special Hooper of the Week Interview with our new Hooping Idol – Courtney Fagras.
Philo: OMG, you just won Hooping Idol! Congratulations! How does it feel?
Courtney: Well, it feels really unreal for starters. I wouldn’t consider myself a person who normally wins things. Always take it real close, but end up falling just a little short. I knew when I entered this competition though, blocking myself from my own potential had to stop. So to be at the end and to have won makes me feel incredible. Not only have I realized how much others appreciate my art, but I also broke a personal pattern and believed in myself more then I ever have. Also feeling mega-love and support from my family, friends, and the hooping community! It was amazing! All of the happy warm feels! When I first found out was there was such a rainbow of emotions. Excited noise making to jumping to dancing to laughing to crying. It was a very empowering moment for me. A real release of all of the emotion and energy that I put into Hooping Idol.
Philo: What was it like for you being in the competition from the very beginning to the very end?
Courtney: It all went by very fast. It was so funny how convinced I was every week that I was going home too. In a way I think I wanted to protect myself from being hurt, but every week I was still in the competition and then it was like jumping out of the plane all over again! When I was 18 I entered a 50 hour film competition and ended up not getting the video in on time, and I felt like this competition was like 6 of those all back to back and with 7 years of growth and crazy determination, this time I did it. Hooping Idol has really painted a lovely picture of all the growth I have done in my life before and even during the competition. And getting to watch everyone around me grow too, and watch us all influence and inspire each other – this was definitely a magical experience to be a part of.
Philo: What made you decide to enter this year? And last year too?
Courtney: I didn’t get my audition video in before the deadline last year. As I sat there, feeling pretty disheartened about failing to audition properly, I vowed to myself I was going to do it again next year no matter what. I think I had a little bit of personal growth to do still between then and now though, and I am honestly really happy that it didn’t work out the first time because I wasn’t ready for it, but I am now and I couldn’t be more excited that it all worked out the way it did!
Philo: It seemed like you really took to heart what the judges had to say and just kept improving every week. How was it having the judges critique you? Is there something that was said that didn’t sound right? Is there something you really took to heart?
Courtney: That is funny that you say that. After the first week, I decided to listen to what the judges said, but didn’t really try to change what I was doing to appease them. When watching the videos both the judges and I know deep down where the problems with the video are. Understanding that, I knew that if I continued to improve my videos based on my own personal judgments, I would also appease the judges. I wanted more then anything in this competition to stay true to myself, so understanding this helped my videos stay authentic. It was interesting to be judged too. We are all humans, so I think it is hard to really ever have an opinion about something that isn’t very deeply rooted in past and personal experience. The judging really got me down at times, but this perspective made me step outside of my personal hurt feelings and understand what was behind their words. I was very happy by the end that I adjusted to the judges as much as the judges adjusted to me, and overall I feel like I learned a lot from them throughout the competition and am very thankful. Also loved all of your mentorship, Philo. If there were any critiques I took to heart, those were the ones.
Philo: Aww, do you have any thoughts or comments for your fellow Hooping Idol finalists, Crystal Smith and Dizzy Dynamic?
Courtney: I just hope they know how amazing they are for getting through to the end. I know how much love, sweat, and tears go into putting yourself out there week after week. They are warriors with so much to share with the world and I am very happy to have shared the Finale with both of them. I know that Hooping Idol is a title more or less, but I know making it to the final 3 felt like winning in itself, so I hope that they are still holding that warm feeling in them because it’s a crazy amazing accomplishment and they are winners in my book.
Philo: When did you start hooping and how did it happen?
Courtney: I had just gotten out of a bad relationship and had moved back into my parent’s basement. I woke up one morning with a very determined idea that I needed a hobby. I got on Facebook later that day and the first thing on my feed was a video posted of my friend Brooke Hatch fire hooping. She was doing it on her shoulders and sticking out one arm at a time. I was so excited because I felt like seeing her do it made me feel like I could do it too, and if nothing else I knew someone who could teach me. So I ran to the garage and dug up an old kid hoop and started going for it. A couple days later an upgrade was in order, so I spent the last 3 dollars to my name on tubing from the guy fixing our neighbors sprinklers and it was history from there.
Philo: 3 dollars very well spent!
Courtney Yes, I was so obsessed! I probably hooped for about 6 hours every day too. I hooped so much in those first couple weeks that even when I wasn’t hooping I could feel the hoop spinning around me all the time, even when I was lying down. I can remember so many nights going outside at 3 in the morning to hoop because I would wake up from my sleep knowing how to do a trick I had been struggling with and I had to just try it right then. It felt like us finding each other was destiny. Maybe that sounds cheesy, but it has definitely been a beautiful love story.
Philo: I love that, and I know that love story first hand as well. So what does current hooping life like then?
Courtney: I’ve been mainly prepping for performance and teaching that will be happening at different gatherings this summer. I am packing right now to go teach and perform at a festival in Tonasket, Washington. I am also in the process of organizing a tour of workshops, probably mainly on the West Coast, but maybe farther away. So many new ventures on the horizon and I feel very capable and excited about it all. Not to mention I have been frequenting the local hoop jam here in Bellingham, and that has been really nice to connect with other hoopers and flow people where I’m living too. The Bellingham hoop community has really made me feel welcome and at home here in this new town!
Philo: Yay! So, how has hooping changed your life?
Courtney: This is an interesting question, because it is almost hard for me to remember a time before hooping. It is like my life started happening when I began to hoop. The confidence from dedicated practice awakened something in me that feels so different from the person I was before that and it is hard to tell what exactly has changed. I do know my ability to express and release emotion is forever changed. Which for me has been one of my biggest challenges. As humans we crave to be understood by other humans, unfortunately my language falls short sometimes and leads to many miscommunications, but with dance I feel like people can really see into my soul and know me. For the first time in my life I felt like people could really see me. So I guess hooping changed my life by giving me a way to relate to the human race.
Philo: Can you share a favorite hooping memory or two?
Courtney: It may not be the most exciting to everyone, but most of my favorite memories from hooping are dancing with my sisters in the backyard in the sunshine or under the moon; or hooping to the sound of the river deep in the woods. I really love that I cannot only share this with the masses, but it has also helped me develop relationships with my family and with nature. Winning Hooping Idol is a pretty amazing moment too.
Philo: What are you currently working on?
Courtney: As far as hooping goes, I am working on getting my website up and running, putting together my demo video, and applying to perform and teach this summer. I’ve realized when it comes to being a performer, it is all about the art of asking. So I am prepping my stuff on my end to get ready to put myself out there to see what kind of opportunities arise. Aside from that, video making has been something I have loved for a very long time so I want to merge the two worlds of hooping and video making together for a new project I am playing around with that involves the greater flow community. I been practicing the harp lately too, which is not related to hooping, but I have never been a musician, so watching me apply the learning process of hooping to something different is also a really amazing process.
Philo: What advice would you have for someone just picking up a hoop for the very first time right now?
Courtney: I always say first, that you have to take the words “I Can’t” out of your vocabulary. Literally never say those words. The whole time I was learning I never let myself believe I couldn’t do something and it was true, because what you believe is going to shape your reality, so believe you can do it! Go into hooping with the exploration of a child, don’t let your knowledge of who you think you are hold you back. Be yourself. I know this is something that is said all the time to us, but I don’t think we really take it to heart and apply it as much as we should.
Philo: So true!
Courtney: The circle is infinite and the patterns we can make with it are infinite too, so explore, do what feels good for you, and innovate. Cool “mess-ups” have ended up being my coolest tricks because I refused to see them as mistakes. If you can manage to do it one time, you know that action can be repeated, so there aren’t mistakes, just growth. Perspective is the key to success. Don’t limit yourself by your perception of what hoop dancing is, because we are inventing that now. So let go, dance it out and get silly and be amazed by what you are capable of coming up with.
Philo: Yay! What are you going to be doing now that Hooping Idol is over?
Courtney: I think I am long due to go into the woods and go camping, so that is first on the list. This finale of Hooping Idol is the tipping point of the rollercoaster that is about to ensue this summer. My sister is about to have a baby and there is some talk about traveling overseas. No matter what, I assure you that this lady is going to keep that circle spinning.
Philo: Awesome, best wishes to your sister, and congratulations!
Courtney: Hooping Idol was a crazy awesome experience and I am so glad for all the close relationships that arose from it. I love each and every one of the contestants I had the opportunity of “competing” with this year. You all rock so hard! You are all extremely outstanding people, so happy you are my friends! Another big thanks to Benjamin Berry for the awesome finale cameo too and hopefully we have some more inter-dimensional collaborations coming your way in the future. It really is an amazing thing you do Philo, and I wanted to thank you for all your hard work putting this on. You have created a whole lot of hoop love for many years now and I am so happy that I got to be a part of your magic!
Philo: Thanks so much Courtney. Will I be meeting you at Hoopcamp this year?
Courtney: I am so excited to be going to Hoopcamp this year! Its been on my birthday weekend for the last couple years, and it is again this year, so I am beyond excited to be sharing my magical birthday in a magical place with beautiful hoopers! Thanks again everyone for all the support and love, I am so ecstatic to be your Hooping Idol!