by Lilea Duran
Marianna De Sanctis of MariannaDeSanctis.com took the hooping world by storm in 2011 and scored herself a Hoopie Award nomination for “Trembling Hoop” – her hooping.org debut. Few have come before or since that carry her unique and incredible presence, as well as her dynamic flair for the dramatic. When we heard she was going to be on Italia’s Got Talent this year, needless to say we were all pretty excited. The Italian board hooper who has made a home in Toulouse, France, has been a little reclusive when it comes to video of her hula hoop stylings. And you know what? We weren’t even prepared for what Marianna had spun up for television. She blew our minds all over again! So innovative, so powerful, so out there, we knew we knew we simply had to find out more about what is going on inside the mind and hooping life of this amazing artist. So join us as we sit down for a special interview with Marianna De Sanctis, our Hooper of the Week!
[Marianna De Sanctis: Trembling Hoop, 2011]
Lilea: When did you start hooping and how?
Marianna De Sanctis: I started the hula hoop on 2007 in Rome. There were free places to play with other people who did circus or would like to do circus. I met Silvia Pavone, who had brought a hula hoop with her from London and when I saw how she could play with it, I started training some with her. I continued on my own too, watching YouTube videos. I started because I didn’t finish school and at fifteen years of age, I left my home. The only job I could do was to work in bars or pubs, or give flyers, so I was looking for something different because art had always fascinated me. I was born in a town in southern Italy where if you put on a miniskirt, the people in the street call you a bitch. I needed to feel free.
Lilea: And you’ve spun up a new life! What does your hooping life look like now?
Marianna De Sanctis: Sometimes this hooping life is brilliant, you enter into your little world of hula, where you feel you have importance for yourself and for other people that watch you online. But given that many women practice the hula hoop, often there is too much competition, or people decide that today the rolls on the body are fashionable and the rest is shit. Unfortunately it is not that way only for the hula hoop. Like everything that is art, often it’s art ephemeral. So I try to preserve my life and my personality without losing too much energy on things ephemeral, but it’s just a big toy for me, to smile at the world.
Lilea: How would you say hooping has changed your life?
Marianna De Sanctis: One day you wake up and you do not know who you are, your life seems trivial, you do the same things wrong, repeatedly, and the next day you decide you must change. I got where I am today with a cost, with sacrifice, like all people who start a great adventure in life. The hula hoop made me, in my own eyes, a realized person, successful, talented, brought me many many loves, and took them away, made me cry and smile, and even today I can say that I hope it never stops bringing me an emotion in this life, otherwise, if one day the hoop doesn’t give me an emotion, I would like to stop hooping and change again to others things.
Lilea: Was Italia’s Got Talent your first Got Talent entry?
Marianna De Sanctis: It was the first time I was on television, yes.
Lilea: Your performance is amazing. How long did you spend developing this particular act?
Marianna De Sanctis: This act was created in 2012. It has been changed over time, but the actual length is 10 minutes, and not 2 minutes. That was all the time allowed.
Lilea: What did the judges say to you after you had finished?
Marianna De Sanctis: New, original, never seen before, the things you always say. But there was one thing that was said that was not included because it was cut: “I understand why you do not come back to Italy. You would not be understood with a number like this.” They were not mistaken.
Lilea: What was it like behind the scenes?
Marianna: Many cameras, we filmed the same thing a thousand times until it became not spontaneous. Pretend you go here, you can say this, pretend that you are already in the final. Beyond that I met very competent people, technicians and people who were working behind the scenes, working more than people who are in front of a camera, without taking anything away. I met artists, non-artists, but with simple and honest personality. I was struck, because in the circus there is often competition, who is better than whom, who is trendy this month, and here there was no need to compete. A person playing with the hula hoop competing with someone who sings? That makes no sense.
Lilea: What happened next with Italia’s Got Talent?
Marianna De Sanctis: I made the semi-finals and I did not choose my performance. They asked me if I wanted to do one thing with a waterfall, because of my video, but I did not expect there would be so much water. So it was very difficult technically. It’s like putting an ice skater with flames around. So I took a couple of falls and the hula hoop flew, but the people who watch television, at least in Italy, have a low level of judgment and criticism. I do not know all. I was not move forward, but it was not the most important thing. When I read the comments on something I have done for years, it hurt me at the moment and then, like all things I will not forget, it will walk beside me with a smile.
[Brief clip of her water performance at 1:12]
Lilea: Would you audition for another country’s Got Talent in the future?
Lilea: Do you have any advice for hoopers thinking of auditioning for a Got Talent type of show?
Marianna De Sanctis: Accept compromises, but that depends on the nature of your character. In any case it is a showcase, take it for what it is. I do not know yet what it is, but it is, good luck.
Lilea: What are you currently working on?
Marianna De Sanctis: Currently I am continuing to work with my act and some circus companies, including Gandini Juggling. But above all, I continue to give workshops on hoop dancing and creative research. I really like to teach, more will be shown on the internet too, when you least expect it. During a workshop I can discover a wonderful talent and a wonderful creative imagination. I am waiting to film a new video in October and to begin to create a new number. I recently started working with Florent Lestage on a new juggling duo with hula hoops and clubs.
Lilea: What do you do when you’re not hooping?
Marianna De Sanctis: My job is the hula hoop. I often wonder how long it can last.
So it takes me a long time to organize, then take planes, then make my act, then leave and go home and rearrange. But when I do not work and I don’t do the hula hoop, before I had so much free time, but I am now a full-time mother. So I’m a mother now with a one-year-old.
Lilea: Do you have a favorite hooping memory or two to share?
Marianna: I think the best memory I have was my first show. I had not yet finished circus school, but I did my performance. The hula hoop is observed and judged to be easy, stupid, an object for women, sexy. When I did my act at this festival in Paris, and it is a festival full of people who are super professional that judge the work of others easily, I made my number, I finished, and I left. They called me again on to the stage to give me another round of applause. I was moved. It is an egocentric memory, but this memory still changed my life.
Lilea: What quality do you most admire in a hooper?
Marianna De Sanctis: I admire a hooper who is not competitive, that loves to give without expecting to receive in return for admiration or fake respect. Hooping isn’t your life, do not forget the people who were there when you become “famous”.
Lilea: Do you have any advice for someone picking up a hula hoop for the
very first time?
Marianna De Sanctis: It’s so cool. Do not think. Do not play. Do not make comparisons with other hoopers. You are the best, and when you play, you must remain honest and genuine. Play!
Contributor Lilea Duran of Sunglow Hoop Dance found herself in the hoop in 2009 and hasn’t stopped spinning ever since. Co-founder of the Napa Hoopers group, Lilea teaches and performs throughout California and has appeared on Hooping.org numerous times, including two seasons of Hooping Idol. She currently lives in Napa, California, USA with her husband and two little hoopers. She’s also on Facebook.