Hot Hula: An Evening Lesson with Fire and Lights
After missing out twice on the hula hooping workshop for beginners at our local yoga studio, it occurred to me to see if our former nanny, Madison, a professional hula hooping performer, might teach me and some friends how to hoop in a private lesson. She said she’d love to and so we planned an evening lesson taught by Madison (below right) and her hooping partner Carla (below left) followed by a highly anticipated LED and fire performance in the dark.
Madison and Carla strolled up carrying dozens of their own custom-made hoops, in all sizes.
They answered many questions comparing the chintzy discount store-variety of hoop with the heavier, more evenly balanced custom hoop.
They encouraged us to try different diameters of hoop to see which ones felt better. As beginners, you’d think we’d catch on more quickly with a smaller hoop, but we actually had an easier time with the larger hoops. To begin, Madison and Carla said to keep our feet close together and to move forward and back, not side-to-side as you intuitively think is the way to do it.
Sarah, elated, kept saying how she hadn’t hula hooped in decades. And some of the spectators got up and gave it a try, feeling bolstered by others’ success.
Good at hooping to begin with, the kids showed off their prowess and were eager to try new tricks.
Madison and Carla showed all of us how to twirl the hoop in one hand, in a figure eight, and how to hoop around one’s neck or around one’s knees.
So much of a hooping performance, we learned, isn’t about traditional hooping around the waist, but involves using the hoop as a prop, creating cool, spinning, optical illusions.
Later, we saw these illusions in action when Madison and Carla began their LED performance for all of us. By then, it was completely dark outside, the kids were all pretty tired, but the show was so mesmerizing and thrilling, it didn’t matter if bedtimes came and went.
The LED hoops are run by battery with computer chips that display different patterns of color, creating psychedelic 3-D shapes that seem to pause in the air. You charge and program them through a USB port. Each one costs between $150-$400.
And if that wasn’t cool enough, Carla and Madison treated us to a fire hooping performance. They’re both highly trained with years of experience, so we had no worries about their or our safety. The only time the hoops with fire came close to us was when they let a child blow out the final flame.
A little ways into the performance, my husband Matt and our friend Peter brought a guitar and drums outside to accompany Madison and Carla with live rhythms. Immediately, they began moving in time with the music.
The entire lesson and show was a huge success — not only did beginners learn how to hoop and feel encouraged to keep practicing, but we enjoyed the summer solstice in the midst of a spectacular show with good friends.
We are planning a repeat lesson and show for later this summer. Madison and Carla welcome invitations to teach and perform at parties or for private engagements. You can see their troupe video on YouTube and send an email to Carla for more information.