Top Hat Hoopdance Award Winners 2015!

March 10, 2016 Caroleeena DanceHoopdanceTop Hat

Audrey Top Hat Two HoopsThank you to everyone who shared dances with me!!! Thank you to everyone who made hoopdances and shared them with the world! I have had the honor of witnessing hoopdances for fathers, mothers, and husbands as well as dances for audiences and dances in living rooms, back yards and interesting places. Hoopdance! Happening everywhere! In lots of robust flavors! I really enjoyed seeing so many beautiful dances. The thing about dance is when you watch it, you feel like you’re doing it too, so it feels like I danced all these beautiful dances with all these beautiful dancers. It was wonderful.

As I danced along, I thought, “How am I ever going to choose!?!” and “What even is this thing I am creating?” and I also thought, “I want people to see that movement! I want them to see this and this too!” “Some of these dances have so many moments I love that I have to figure out a way to share them anyway.” “This one has a quality not represented by any of the other dances and I want to point it out.”  So I am going to give a tip of the Top Hat to many videos and offer a few specific observations about things I love about them. I am going to create a couple of new categories too, which I will describe along the way.

I am realizing the Top Hat Awards are going to be a celebration of wonderful dances and they are also going to be a teaching and learning tool also as I share what I love about each dance.

ASPECTS OF DANCE

All art is subjective but these are some of the things that speak to me in dances (and which I note specifically in many of my reviews):
– storytelling. The song is a story. It has a beginning, middle and end. It has an arc. Dances tells this story through movement, expression, gestures, and technical aspects like speed, levels, and use of space? If there are lyrics, both individual words and larger ideas can be represented with movement or poses.
– starting poses
– ending poses
variation in movement
use of repetition and alternation and playing phrases
utilizing the free hand
embellishing moves
lines, circles, and S shapes
footwork
traveling, turns, and spins
handwork
fingerwork
armwork
– level changes
– speed changes
– filling the space
– energy
– dynamic changes in levels, speed, planes direction, or energy
– connecting with the viewer
beat punctuation
musicality
– pauses and poses
directed gaze
– a hook
– working the camera
– stage presence
– connection with the story (living the emotion of it)
– connection with the music (melody and rhythm
contraction and expansion

I have blogs about many of these things and how they relate to hoopdance specifically and I’ve tried to link to a lot of them. If one of the words in the list above is darker black, it is a link to an article or tutorial on that topic.

I will present first the Top Hat Winner for each category followed by other dances that I want to share. I found so many teachable moments I had to expand some categories and make others. For example, in the Solo Hoopdance category, I want to highlight both dances on stages with audiences and dances in living rooms with only the camera for audience so I am splitting this award into two. I do this a few other places as well. (I will explain as I go along.)

TOP HAT AWARD!
OUTSTANDING SOLO HOOPDANCE – Living Room category:
Martin Ramirez – Flawlessness:

I love how Martin gets into character from the very beginning and he stays there. The way he plays with speed is the very definition of musicality. For example, that smear at :35. It’s just a smear but the fact that he goes through multiple speeds in that one smear adds so much more flavor and intention to what is otherwise a very simple move. His directed gaze is compelling. He sees us seeing him and is unflinching in keeping eye contact with us and being who he is in front of us. It feels raw and real. Those turns from 1:12 to 1:14 take my breath away. The way he drags his toe and keeps a line connected to the floor is beautiful. He also always always always has his free hand in a line hanging to the side or behind the back if he is not actively doing something with it so it is never a distraction. 1:42 when he slows to super slow and starts putting in the beat punctuation make my heart stop. The moment on the couch is wonderful. If the couch is there, use it! Way to use the space! I love that he included some core hooping. To me, core hooping is the core of ALL hooping and hoopdance and when we forget to include it we have a tendency to fall back into object manipulation rather than dance. Finally, the ending. It was a wind-down to a sudden and complete reconnection with the viewer, a combination of directed gaze and beat punctuation. He essentially punctuated that beat with directed gaze. Huge fan of the end pose also.

TOP HAT AWARD!
OUTSTANDING SOLO HOOPDANCE – Stage category:
Matylda Górska – Girl With One Eye:

From the very beginning, a pose, in side view, accentuating a hat, followed by travel where the toes never leave the ground. Toe drags. I love toe drags. And then that wonderful pose at the :15 second mark that accentuated the hat again. Then that pose pushed up into yet another gorgeous pose when she raised her hips! I loved that!. And the whole time her partner, the hoop, was floor spinning beside her. From there she orients to on the floor, a level change, and does a whole set of movement from there, first on the knees and upright, then on the hip and flat. Gorgeous! Her long legs look so pretty and being barefoot made their lines even longer.  And her POSES! (:19, :37, :45, :51, :56 with legs toward the front…, :58, 1:00 when she is in profile, 1:12… Pause and pose. Matylda rocks it. She has wonderful speed changes, level changes, pointed toes and great lines. Her transition to two hoops was pretty — a skip across the stage to pick it up (and I think that was the first time I saw her toe leave contact from where it was dragging the floor). It made for a dramatic change — dragging to skip — and was very pretty. I love her use of repetition in those pretty extended arm barrel rolls (2:05) She did another pose at 2:26 that was clearly a set up for a really long backward travel across the stage, which she paired with iso-pops. That was gorgeous. I love big travel and repetition! The brings her toe to her knee a lot and it makes three such clean lines. I love the way she returned to one hoop at the end of the piece. Her way of rolling the hoop off the stage was the perfect exit for it. It completed a story arc — one hoop, two hoops, one hoop. That pose at 2:50. Bam! It’s an interesting way to use that yin/yang positioning where one hand is one bottom and one on top. That’s one of MY favorite poses and this is a unique way of using it. Then she does something at the 3:00 mark that is so pretty. I don’t know what it is. I want to figure it out, followed by some really unique and beautiful walking. (From 3:00 – 3:06!)  She exploded with movement and height and energy as her music exploded perfectly. She has played every ebb and flow in this dance. I love the ending. After the explosion of energy, she coiled the remaining down to the floor with a level change, then to the hoop by stopping it and then, contained in the hoop, she rolled it away, off the stage.

TIP OF THE HAT!
Jessica Cohen – 121215 (to Breathe Me by Sia)

This dance makes me feel things from the moment it starts. From the very first word “help” her body collapsed into a pretty pose toe up, hand to head, like you’d been hit in the stomach that felt like “oof”, like you’d been hit in the belly and how you’d fall forward. You felt that… energetically. “help” The way she goes to the floor from there like she’s praying almost, then works her way up and then that beautiful fall forward where she traces the hoop at :35. All that was lovely and evocative. She uses her hands in very pretty ways. At @:49 she forgot to orient toward the camera for isolations and barrel rolls, which are illusions and must be seen straight on. That is literally the only thing I would change about this dance. Even the drop was picked up in such a perfect way that it added to the dance and made me feel happy. Musicality is about playing with time within a beat and Jessica does that at 2:14 with a shoulder roll that she almost makes pause at the top. I also love her travel toward the back of the room after that. That looked great. I loved the knee spin at 2:35. I love her changes with the music and that period of sustained spinning was so glorious I didn’t want it to stop! I love the way she often lets her hand rest on her head. There are so many things I love about this dance I had to give it a shout out.

TIP OF THE HAT!
Dee Brown – Daddy Birthday Tribute Hoopdance

This sweet backyard video on a sunny day makes me feel good and happy. Dee starts with headwork (something often forgotten by hoopers) and moves quickly to a repeating alternating pattern of isolations that set the tone and don’t rush through. This dance is beautiful and sweet. Charming and full of love. It came alive when Dee picked up two hoops at 2:15. That is when her emotion really burst through in movement. It’s my favorite part of this dance. She has some wonderful transitions between phrases of both music and movement. But the most striking thing is she is freaking feeling this song and I feel it too through her and I love it! By the end she is basically lip syncing and I am buying it. Yay for lip syncing. It adds a whole other dimension to enjoy and to play with! She is keeping great contact with the camera and playing to it because she’s talking to her daddy. Then, like I said, this dance keeps getting better and better! She throws down two hoops, picks up another, comes straight up to the camera and works it! She is feeling it and I am too. Great way to frame the dancer too. She is the perfect distance from and angle to the camera. Then when she sings, “and I love you so much daddy!”… tears. I really felt that. It made me cry in a happy sweet way. I felt her and their love and it was beautiful. (4:20) What a sweet gift.

TIP OF THE HAT!
Henna Matanuska – I Am Mountain: Hoopdance

This stage performance is so powerful. Henna uses energy in interesting ways. She exaggerates head pops and pose and pauses so that they reverberate! She explores speed changes and level changes in interesting ways that keep the tension she creates from the very beginning of the dance. The dance is punctuated with unusual moves like that hooping on the knee. That pose at 2:47 looking back over the shoulder!?! I love it! That is the same pose I commented on in Matylda’s dance! I loved it when she released down to the floor and then pushed back in a slide. Sliding on the floor is rad! The entreaty in her hand after she did it was totally compelling too. I love the way she uses her shoulders at 3:03 while she is laying on the floor! That looks fantastic. She has a ton of pretty poses too and I love her footwork! Some of it is so unique, like that crazy little shuffle slide she does twice. So interesting!  That coming to stillness, balancing the hoop on the hand, then the opposite side of the hand, then collapsing onto her back, doing a hand spin, then pushing back so you slide on your back until your legs are straight. Eeeep! I love that! Wow! Her pose at 4:11 was amazing and then she transitioned to two hoops as if by magic. That was one of the most creative ways of transitioning to two hoops that I have seen. You never saw it coming. I love the rawness of this and the fierceness and the complete badassery. That move at 4:54? I hadn’t seen that before! Must to be figuring that out. I love how she kept coming back to this one piece of handwork. It was like a half-prayer and it was juxtaposed to this fierce movement in such a musical and evocative way. And I love how she ends by dragging that hand all the way down then going down. It ties this whole beautiful dance together.

TIP OF THE HAT!
Outstanding Stage Presence: Lilly Hoops and Brooklyn Proper

There are some performers who work the camera by looking at it or others who work it by deliberately not looking at it. We have an example of each — Lily and Brooklyn. Both of these dancers have enormous stage presence, the ability to command the attention of a theater audience by the impressiveness of one’s manner or appearance. Each works the camera but in a different way. They own where they are and you feel compelled to see where they go and what they do because they are doing it with such authority. Each also uses directed gaze to either engage the audience or direct the gaze of the audience. The first is extroverted. The second is introverted. Lily really uses her eyes to connect! She makes love with her eyes, smiles with her eyes, grabs you with her eyes. Brooklyn uses the wall as a prop in hers! (Just as Martin used the couch in his.)  She grabs by NOT catching your eyes. I recommend watching these two together to see two really cool representations of stage presence. There is a je ne sais quoi to stage presence and I don’t really know how to describe it so this is it:

Lilly Hoops:

Brooklyn Proper:

TOP HAT AWARD!
OUTSTANDING FIRE SOLO HOOPDANCE
Erin Shredder – Shredder Hoops 2015 Fire Entertainer of the Year

This hoopdance is part of a larger performance. Hot damn. The whole thing is amazing! She moves between several tools flawlessly, including costume pieces, and when she picks up her hoop!?! I am in awe of the mastery and power, the stage presence,  the costuming, the dance technique, and the hoop technique.  From the beginning, that focus on her handwork while her back is turned, this dance is a magical spell. I love the way she does costume changes right in the middle of dances! Like the taking off of her train bustle before she started hooping. That moment is at 2:50 just before the fire hoopdance. Wowza. That was so beautiful and majestic. The dance is just amazing.

With fire hoops you always have to figure out a way to light them that is, if not intrusive, part of the act. I love the way she lights her hoop here and the way she works that wand and then the way she extinguishes it and then how it magically disappears! Erin can do amazing circus tricks! Sometimes with such moves, dance can be lost but not in this dance! She does incredible moves in such dancy ways. It’s breathtaking. Her attention to detail is perfection. Shredder’s dance is a dance of reveals and taking off her jacket with her back to the audience while leg hooping was striking and teasing. Then she does another unobtrusive lighting of a second hoop by setting her lit hoop atop the unlit hoop. That traveling step after lighting the second hoop is a beautiful. Stage presence.

Then all this magic played out:
4:22 (two wicks had gone out, seamlessly re-lit)
4:35 beautiful pirouette turn
4:48 undulations while twin hooping
5:00 barrel leap
5:03 that moment with one up and one down looks so flamenco!
5:04 beautiful armwork
5:57 that kiss she blew to the audience. That’s a gesture and an incredible one!
6:02 toe to the knee
end pose

What an amazing fire dance. Go Erin Shredder. I appreciate everything about this!

TIP OF THE HAT!
Ina Hoopina: Fire Hoopdance Solo

This dance is a great example of using repetition, repeating a pattern a few times, creates a larger over all effect. Dancers have to be patient to do it. I recommend doing for four times and yet get to see Ina do that a lot in this. I like the way she passed off her first fire hoop for two fresh fire hoops so both hoops have fire the whole time. That was smart and smoothly done! That move at 2:45 split time anti-spin flowers looked very beautiful and I am glad it repeated as long as it did! I love the long arm turns like Julie Andrews spinning atop the mountain. There is some really techy stuff in here too, especially in the two hoop part, but artfully done and beautiful! That bow was perfection. I also love that her fire was still going strong when she finished. What an impression that makes!

TIP OF THE HAT!
Emma Kenna: Fire Hoopdance Solo

Emma’s character in this dance is fully formed! I loved that she used another prop — her ukulele tricked out with sparklers to make it even more bad ass. Her costuming was spot on and so were her mannerisms. Yay for developing characters! She does some amazing speed changes from fast to slow to stopped and then did a gesture! The rock and roll hand sign right in the middle of the hoop complete with head banging. That delivery onto leg hooping with her long beautiful arms extended toward the sky made an absolutely gorgeous line and that pizza toss then extended that line into the sky! She then traveled back and forth across that stage, filling every bit of it and traveling long lines while repeating gorgeous patterns. Her Pete Townsend guitar solos with z-spins on each side were fantastic and evocative. Brilliant. At 3:14 that traveling barrel roll? Gorgeous. I’d have likes so see that spin even more and farther. So beautiful. At the end after she’s built and added tools, she comes back to the tool that started it all. The ukulele…which you think, “How can she play that? Her hands are full.” Her tongue. Perfect.

II. OUTSTANDING PARTNER HOOPDANCES:

TOP HAT AWARD!
OUTSTANDING PARTNER HOOPDANCE
Lee Jeffries and Morgan Jenkins – Flowmance

The only requirement for this award is that videos can not be edited…so of course Lee and Morgan came out with a beautiful, artful couple’s hoopdance about relationships…that was edited. I was bummed that I couldn’t consider it but I really wanted to promote videos without edits to encourage people to release perfectionism and not edit out the mishaps that are also a part of any dance. I am happy to say that Lee and Morgan have shared the single raw footage of that dance and I want to choose it for the Top Hat Award for outstanding partner hoopdance. This dance tells a very clear story that has an arc and a clear beginning, middle, and end. It includes many different types of dance, which is cool because the two characters are different people and it helps distinguish each one’s character because one is more hip-hop liquid movement (Lee) and the other is more sensual movement (Morgan) yet both sample the other’s movement from time to time as they engage and connect over the course of the dance.

A hoop is introduced at the beginning — a girl who loves her hoop, a boy who is jealous of her hoop (a real story that seems to play out a lot) and then the two begin dancing without hoops and this dance includes level changes that match mood and emotion changes as well as really articulated poses the convey story in each pose. Then each picks up a hoop and they dance together for a bit, him mirroring her, and then somehow he ditches his hoop so cleverly I never see him get rid of it and uses his hands to mirror what she is doing with her hoop, which goes to show that you can mirror with the same props, different props, or no prop. The dance becomes a power struggle over the hoop and this is shown not just in their movement but in the energy and tension (the way they shake upon pulling for example) and in facial expression. The two then get exasperated which you can see through the way she holds her face in her hands, how he runs his hands through his hair (gestures), and the manner in which she walks back to pick up the forgotten hoop. The two then separate and form a line and do a set piece of choreography marked with periods of pauses like 1:55. There is also some directed gaze there as they lock eyes too. After that they spin out and change places, which I really like. Too many dances stay oriented the same way the whole time, one person on right, the other on left. Changes places changes the dynamic and keeps a dance interesting. At 2:15 they do the coolest move in unison. It reminds me of 90’s music videos. From a pose, one foot steps across and in front of the other so the legs are crossed (they rolled the hoop behind to the other hand) and then the foot taps three times as it moves back to where it started, each tap on a bit of lyric — “you don’t” (small step), “have to” (small step) “say” (big step). I loved that. Those are the kinds of little footwork touches that really add to a dance. At 2:30 they start doing some tunneling that turns into a hold, him behind, her in front, his hoop moving but hers stationary. That is an interesting way to close a tunnel and it allows them to put down the hoop and do a bit of choreographed and coordinated tutting so that they make two-person shapes. I just love the little sweeps to the side at 2:50 and Morgan has got some straight up hairography going on in that way that she is touching her hair. (She is really good at hairography. I’ve noticed it in other videos too.) The way he delivered her hoop into her hand so that she could pull it up her leg was inspired and her pull and spin off was gorgeous. She has a tiny solo here where Lee doesn’t something interesting. He goes out of the screen and around behind the videographer and comes back into the picture from the other side. This is a way of breaking the third wall through video! I love it. I also love that when they meet again at 3:01 he his holding his elbow up, arm in second position closed, in a straight up flamenco piece of armwork! His chest is out and lifted too. So fierce that is! I like that pose at 3:15 followed by two-person tracing isolations. When she tosses him the hoop, that is playful and sweet and both their energy and facial expressions have changed. At the end, they almost kiss but they don’t kiss. Big lesson in that. Almost kiss but don’t kiss. Almost cry but don’t cry. Leave the viewer Alluding to something can be more powerful than actually doing it because it lets the imagination fill in the blanks! This was a wonderful dance. I am glad I could include it.

I did not include a nomination form for partner fusion hoopdances but darned if there weren’t two really good ones in here so I am awarding them Top Hats and learning my lesson.

TOP HAT AWARD!
OUTSTANDING PARTNER FUSION – LATIN DANCE
Caterina Suttin and Kristina Sutcliffe – Latin Dance

This dance is interesting in so many different ways. It was like a tango, one person with no hoop, the other with two hoops. Kristina in front does beautiful body tracing and Catarina behind her perfectly mimicking first that then the tango footwork with her feet. It was really pretty the way they played pauses. These two dancers had a connection too. Even when one was behind the other, they were still connected right at heart center and moving from that place together. I I saw a few pieces of footwork in here that I want to pay closer attention too. Finding footwork patterns that you can share with other dancers is instant dance. That foot sweep at 1:49. I love a foot sweep! 2:49 when they are sweeping back and forth together, their arms doing inside circles, so pretty. This dance has the story telling aspect down! It is a story of wooing and it is delightful

TOP HAT AWARD!
OUTSTANDING PARTNER FUSION – HAT MANIPULATION
Flow Show Night 2: Circus Dynamics

I love hat manipulation so when I saw this I had to create a partner category for Fusion of Hat Manipulation. This is a partner swing dance that is paired with hat manipulation and isolation manipulation. I love the costuming and the characterizations. I love that at :55 they pull the hoop from one another. This energy and balance exchange and way of interacting with the hoop, the pulling so you can pull each other around like you were holding hands and partner dancing. You can use each other for balance in this way too. Their isolation barrel roll with tip of the hat at :50 is sublime! What a great move. The fold at 1:15 into the dip so she could pick up her hat was spectacular. The pose after it at 1:17 is perfection. I want that photo! She has a wonderful pointed toe and she can hold it. They also rock directed gaze! Toward each other. Toward us. Moving between them on timings. They utilize the Charleston at 1:27 and their eye contact during it was as wonderful as the footwork. Even during their juggling, which is not normally dancy, she has her hand on her hip and they do a spectacular dip to pick up the hoop! What a great pose too! Their pantomime is spectacular. I love the two person isolations at 2:44. I love their little dance right at the end and it leads to an epic ending!

TIP OF THE HAT! – Partner Hoopdance
Partner Hooping by Jill and Chika

This dance has lots of nice touches like, for one example, the hand tucked neatly (and identically) behind back. These touches make these moves look very polished. These two dancers also have a connection that you can feel. They are friends and they are having fun and that makes it fun for us dancing along in our seats too. Specific things I love…I love that little tunnel move they do at :35! They did a lovely job sharing solos. Each girl saved an ta-da move for that moment. Something big and visually pleasing and perfect for that eight count. They have great energy, both very bouncy and happy in movement and facial expression. I really pull for these girls right from the start. I love the big moves like those barrel rolls at 1:29. More of those please! Repetition with big barrel rolls is an eye-catcher and a fun ride for folks watching. That bit of repetition at 2:28 is awesome! It was a level change in an hand spin that was doing a break at top and at bottom, so the partners could alternate and it looks wonderful. Great punctuation of the beat there too. I could watch that all day. They bowed and they stayed bowed instead of rushing though it and then they stayed to receive applause before leaving. This was delightful. I really liked it and it made me happy. Also, best back drop ever!!!! It is perfect for them and they animate the very concept.

TOP HAT AWARD!
OUTSTANDING PARTNER FIRE HOOPDANCE
Emma and Ina – Dance: Emma & Ina Partner Fire Act as HOOP! The Castle 2015

The characterization  was wonderful in this partnership. “I have fire!” “I have bigger fire!” Very “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better”. Emma’s face falling in such a comedic way. Outstanding. I love how they went back to back and paired back to back moves. While they are back to back they have nice lines on their legs, each bent to the same angle and the same height. Very nice lines together. They throw poi to each other! That is unusual to see. The story they tell of continually one-upping the other is fantastic.  They spin both in unison and by mirroring each other. The big barrel spins in unison at 2:28 are striking. Big circular fire. Very pretty. Ina kept her solo big and centered and it was lovely. Then they got techy crazy in a gorgeous way. Anti spin flowers not exactly back-to-back but off-set in such a way that it appeared back-to-back. Then they do something that blows my mind that I can’t figure out. Maybe just arms out and moving back and forth like you’re dusting off your hands. Then, at 4:20, they do a wonderful shared effect that is very big. An extended-arm barrel roll behind a centered isolation. Very impressive looking. Great final bow.  So much to love in this that I am sharing it anyway, even though it has cut-aways. It was all clearly from the same dance.

III. OUTSTANDING SMALL GROUP HOOPDANCES (4 People Or Less)

TOP HAT AWARD!
OUTSTANDING SMALL GROUP HOOPDANCE (4 People Or Less)
Dancers: Merilei Mandelin, Anni Aartomaa, and Jadel Raiski
Choreographers: Merilei Mandelin and Sanna Hento

Merilei shared her process with us in making this dance in the Putting The Dance in Hoopdance group. It was awesome to see it come together and I really love this three person number. I love how they break their stillness in succession and in time. They use this four count (one, two, three, hold for four) really effectively and I like that pattern for a three person group. I find them one of the hardest groups to choreograph for so I was really happy to see all the wisdom in this! I love the right knee/left knee bends with a hand on the hip while the hoop makes isolations. The I loved the two barrel rolls into a level change by dropping the knees to the ground after the second one. Wonderful. Then, on the ground, they present to the side for a second then they orient toward the front and, at :35 do my favorite sassy combo in this. I know they had to train to push the hoop one way after stepping out to, and then leaning into it as they pushed. Going side to side in that squat looks incredible. I love the piece of footwork at :43, the step behind/smear/step behind on the other side. That was a lovely combo. I like things where the foot ends up behind and long like that. The pose at :56 is gorgeous and then they turn in it AND drag a toe while doing it. So pretty! The pose at 1:10 was gorgeous and a pretty one to hold for the dancers in back as they wait their turn to rise. 1:25 when they travel backward while dragging their toes in outside circles? Sigh… The level change isolation at 1:35 was very pretty. What a thigh workout! The post at 1:45 to that walk forward. So stunning. From 1:59-2:01 they had a wonderful side to side sequence! I’d love to see more repetitions of that because it reminds me of the dancer Cyd Charisse. 2:22 is a pretty pose with a straight line (arm up, hoop down) and the beginning of a really interesting sequence. At 2:38 they return to the knee bends that were so striking earlier and THEN they turn and do an iso-pop up, an iso-pop forward, and an iso-pop down the straight front leg that looks fantastic! The come out with the hoop long and high and behind them and pose. It’s beautiful. What a great sequence. I loved it, I loved that they shared their process, and I loved that they danced and twirled off stage.

TIP OF THE HAT!
Perpetual Spin Practice Session, First Choreographed Piece
Pam Mayer (PamHoops), Amanda Lavender Moon, Jessica Rufo, and Serene Isabelo (Sereneflowfairy)

 

This is a process piece that these four dancers were going to be performing in the new year. Still, there is a lot of juicy goodness in it. I like the way they feature one dancer at a time so you get a taste of their individuality before they do a lot of stuff that is in unison in synchronized ways. It makes it that much more impressive. You can see how they each picked their own unique way to get from here to there and then, boom, synchronized like a Busby Berkeley choreography! I love the way they pair their head movements with their arm movements. It’s very doll like. I adore the three back up dancers doing something together (a series of somethings actually) as they side step from left to right while one dancer solos for an eight count. Very clever but doesn’t draw focus from the solo even though it was visually interesting. At 1:30 they also pair that bended knee bounce we saw in Merilei’s piece and I love how they fall forward over their hoops afterward. The forward fold bottom circle, middle circle, top circle synchronization was really cool. The music slows at 1:53 and they go into a lovely tracing sequence that they alternate on each side. It goes until 2:14 and then they move in their lovely caterpillar way to the next series. (Note to Self: Group Caterpillar Hoop Number! Whuh!?!) I like the three back up dancers combo before they came into a line for tunneling. 3:10 when alternating numbers step to opposite sides and do a smear. Very cool looking. So much to love in this. I know they will be rocking this number in performance this year.

TOP HAT AWARD!
OUTSTANDING SMALL GROUP FIRE HOOPDANCE (4 People Or Less)
Choreographed by Maggie Ginoza. The performers are Liat Kugelmass, Maggie Ginoza, Emily Lin, and Alison Sagliocca!

I love how this hoopdance starts as a single dancer inside a fire hoop burning on the ground. The back up dancers are swaying together but with their back to the audience. At :40 the soloist is doing ronde de jambes, a leg sweet where the leg is in the air, inside her hoop still burning on the ground. All these leg lifts and lines are very pretty! Then the entire group inhabits the lyrics by, at the line about “keeping you” rushing to encircle the dancer with stationary hoops held at four perfectly spaced levels. I loved that and I loved how low and forward and dejected the shoulders were of the trapped soloist. Those shoulders alone told a story. The ways she “pushed away” at 1:40 and the dancers on the sides WERE pushed away. I loved how the three dancers changed sides of the stage at 1:43-1:45. They were doing inside circles with the inside hand (toward the center of the tunnel) and letting the pull of those circles dropping and pulling to the outside pull them to the side too. Really cool way to travel. There is so much to love in this. I love the lines of the soloist. I love the way the three hoopers fence her in and then dance around her. At 2:19 I love how the other hooopers drop and the soloist reaches for the sky. She looks taller and longer for them being on the ground. Then she repeated the jump sequence from earlier. Repeating combinations is a great way to tie a dance together. Then, leaving the hoop burning, she left the stage what walking into the crowd. Breaking that third wall. The back up dancers turned their back and stood still and suddenly all attention was on that burning hoop. Really well done.

IV. OUTSTANDING LARGE GROUP HOOPDANCES (5 Or More):

TOP HAT AWARD!:
OUTSTANDING LARGE GROUP HOOPDANCE (5 People Or More)
Morgan Jenkins and Hooptown Hotties plus guest stars Tiana Zoumer, Caterina Suttin, Lulu Lam, Rebecca Victoria, Rachel Evans, Matt Porretta, Evan Davis – At Hoop Camp

This dance starts with a hat, followed by a hair reveal, followed by hairography. I am a sucker for all that stuff! And then, a tear away costume!?! You know I love costume changes on stage. They are magic! Morgan has some great poses and her body touching and body tracing is really pretty. Then she is joined by two other dancers and they add chair dancing, something ELSE I really love! I love the step up onto the chair and then the jump off of it! I not only love the hairography, I love the use of the HIPS. You’d think hoopers would use their hips more but a lot of times if we’re not hooping on them, we’re not moving them. They are working the hips and it looks fantastic. The pose at 2:02 to the closed legs was very pretty! This group dance is unique because then the first two back up dancers leave and then two more, these two guys, join her. They bring four hoops each and share in such a way that all three end up with three and then they do all these great illusions with three hoops! At 2:36 I love that little dip they do from side-to-side. Then it switches to a partnership — one partner in white, one partner in black. That partner slipped a skirt on Morgan and then they she was joined by two other skirted dancers, very reminiscent of 90’s Brittany, except for the epic double three person chest roll. Let’s see Brittany do that! Then everyone joined to close out with a single piece of armwork and it was an epic ending complete with an ending pose. So much to love!

TIP OF THE HAT:
Kids Hoopdance Performance 9-13 choreographed by Jennifer Dennehy

These are kids 9-13 and this piece was choreographed by Jennifer Dennehy. I like how the beginning splits the dancers into right side and left side. At 1:15 I love how all the back up dancers are doing the same “step-together-step” while the second soloist solos. I like how they moved across the stage in unconventional directions, working the corners. The spin that the dancer in blue does at the 2:00 mark is one of my favorite take-aways from this dance. That was cool. a very pretty pose for turns, spins, or sustained spinning. That little jump with the foot slide at 2:23? Yes please! I liked how some dancers just turned their back and stood still to feature to soloist. I liked the way they all came to the front of the stage to take their bow at the end. Lots of treasures in this.

TOP HAT AWARD!:
OUTSTANDING LARGE GROUP FIRE HOOPDANCE (5 People Or More)
This is the only category for which we had no submissions! I hope that next year we see some big fire hoopdances with five or more dancers. Think about it!

V. OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHERS AND CHOREOGRAPHIES:

TOP HAT AWARD!
OUTSTANDING HOOPDANCE CHOREOGRAPHER/CHOREOGRAPHY
Jennifer Dennehy – Inner City Neighborhood Art House Older Kids Performance:

Jennifer is a hoopdancer who teaches in many places including ballet conservatories, hoop gatherings, and, my favorite, at the Neighborhood Art House where she collaborates with inner city youth to create hoopdances. This year she did a week long hoopdance residency at South Hills Child Development Center based on the life of Malala Yousafzi, the young Pakistani woman who won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for advocating for education for girls. Collaborating with children, grades 1-5, from the US, Pakistan, Egypt, India, Dubai, Syria, China, Taiwan and Ethiopia (who had spent the first part of the summer studying Malala’s life), Jennifer helped them create a dance telling Malala’s story set to Pakistani music. The dance started with the story, selected music to fit the story, and then a dance was co-created to tell the story. That’s what choreography is.

I can’t share that dance with you because the student’s parents didn’t give permission to film it so I have shared another dance that I love, this one from the Neighborhood Art House. The dancers are between 10 and 13. They had only been hooping a year or so. I love this dance. I feel so proud of both of them. The dance starts out with that epic piece of floorwork at :04 that I have commented on in three dances on this blog followed by that sweet spin on the bottom. Those are the kinds of moves I just don’t see much in hoop choreo and it makes me happy to see them. She pairs simple footwork with simple hoop moves to create really interesting repeating patterns. They do some moves and then they change sides of the stage (another thing I have commented on a few times). Then, instead of lining them up in a single straight line, she off-sets them so the stage looks more full and multi-dimensional. It also utilizes the space better because it’s small and chest rolls with the arms fully extended take up space! I love their pose at 1:47. The kids are precious and I am so pulling for them. (They had hardly any time to learn this and I think they rocked it out, which is a testament to them but also to Jennifer for making choreo that could be grasped and integrated quickly. That is a real gift!) Then they migrate back to the floor for a great pose followed by another great pose and a ta-da hoop move! I love this dance, I love these dancers, and I love Jennifer for her pioneering and cutting edge work in choreographing hoop routines. I really appreciate her inclusion of high impact, big moves that make a big impression on the viewer.

VI. FUSION HOOPDANCE

This category is a celebration of the innovators trying to bring other forms of dance into hoopdance! The following list is in alphabetical order by name of the dance being added to the hoopdance.

TOP HAT AWARD!
Bellydance
Lital Natanzan Bellydance Fusion:

From the handwork of her opening pose she had me. The flamenco and liquid and popping she combines effortlessly is stunning. Love that flamenco shoulder thing at :34 where she steps and the arms come up and over? Fierce! I love those holding the basket barrel rolls at 1:03. She repeats three while traveling in a line. Her armwork is breathtaking and the way she picks up the hoop at 1:26 artful. Then, sustained spinning, a nice change that looked beautiful in that skirt. I love how she presents the back (1:57) and then turns and greets the audience with a radiant, connecting smile. Two great poses back to back. At 3:22 she did a piece of armwork with earth facing hooping that was very pretty. I love how she has the hoop exit and then she follows. This will be my exception related to editing. I could not get in touch with her to ask for one straight on because we don’t speak the same language but this dance is so wonderful, I chose it for my exception because I really want to share it. (I gave myself one!)

TIP OF THE HAT!
Bellydance
Andrea Mattson – Gaea Lady Black Mambo Double Hoop bellydance

From the beginning when you see her back, I love this dance. Her beat punctuation is perfect. She plays pauses. She has great poses. She uses two hoops in interesting ways. Two pretty costume reveals. Her body touching is lovely. Really beautiful arms. Interesting headwork. Completely captivating, even from a distance like this video. I really love this dance. I especially love the two hoop pose she holds at 3:33 when she is sustained spinning.

TOP HAT AWARD!
Burlesque Strip Tease:
Black Orchid – Saturday Spectacular

Talk about playing a pause. This hoopdancer presents on stage, used a hanky to wipe her seat letting us know how fastidious she is (characterization and gestures) and then seats herself and waits. This pause, the long one in complete silence, is a challenging pose to hold. She does a great job. Then when she moves, it’s so sexy, alluding to body touching, alluding to open legs but knee closed — the tease. Her gaze ignores the audience, then grabs the audience and refuses to drop or look away. This is another one that has some cuts but it is a single dance and there was nothing else like it submitted and I want to recognize it because it is outstanding.  Her reveals, the act of shedding garments in a pretty way, so perfect for this genre. Also heels.She rocks heels the whole time. And then there is the final reveal…and then a surprise ending! Great story telling. You must see for yourself.

TOP HAT AWARD!
Cabaret
Andrea Matteson: Mean Swing Thing

This is a backstage view of a cabaret number where the dancer set up the phone of to the side and a bit behind the dancer. I love this. It feels like watching the dance from backstage! There are so many great moves in this dance too. Our first jazz hands!!! She does a lot of great pauses and poses and her beat punctuality for it is perfection. This kicks at :50 followed by the pose at :52. Yummy! I love the foot sweeps at 1:06. This girl knows how to use her knees! She lifts her knees from the knees, she poses by turning a knee in or turning a knee out. Super sassy! LOVE that jump at 1:25! And notice her free hand. It is working the whole time, either in a pose or touching her hair or face or body. At 1:40 she does a series of three kicks, each bigger than the last, love them! What a build. At 1:56 it becomes about the shoulders. Like knees, shoulders do not get enough love! Those two barrel rolls at 2:16 are seamless and I love the following pose and then the way she draagggggs the toe from wide stance to feet together. That step through at 3:00 is a good example of musicality, of playing with the count inside the count, slowing then speeding up. Her pirouettes are gorgeous too. I love this dance. Even the hoop rescue. And what stage presence!

TOP HAT AWARD!
Hip Hop Fusion:
Gina Aginas – Hip Hop Pop n Lock Hula Hoop Dancing

I love this one! I have been looking and looking for a good example of integrating hip hop into hooping and this is the first really good one I have seen. Hip hop is a sharp and articulated form of dance and you see that in the first five seconds of footwork. That knee drop at :12 is so sharp! At :18 the arms are lifted from the elbow, which is a quality of both hip hoop and flamenco. She intersperses knee wobbles at :23 between some really impressive footwork. At :43 she does a step/together/tap that alternates but it’s not just in her feet. You see it ripple all they way up her body from her feet. This dance also has an example of holding the hoop in lasso but concentrating on body work, in this case, footwork. It also leaves that other hand free to mess with her necklace, effectively making it a prop also. Love those step-backs at 1:11. Such a great piece of repeating footwork. That step-behind turn at 1:42 was gorgeous. She has some lovely armwork that is a fusion of something else, I’m not sure what, and I love it too. She has a fantastic kick in this, to the side so it’s highlighted too.

The Fusion category is entirely based on fusing one specific type of dance with hoop. In studying videos, I learned about a lot of different kind of dances. I learned that Ballet, Lyrical, and Contemporary were similar but not the same and that Modern was something completely different. Here is my understanding of them:

Classical Ballet is the basis for all these variations. It is characterized by straight lines and lifted postures.

Lyrical is a combination of ballet and jazz. Ballet has a strict way of moving that is continued in Lyrical. Most classical ballet is orchestral or instrumental and relies on miming because there are no words. “Lyrical”, then, is often to songs without words but it is also the alternate description of the word lyrical, meaning poetic, expressive, and emotive, so words are not a requirement.

Contemporary is a form of modern ballet that lets go of dictionary definitions of movement. An arabesque in lyrical is still that, but an arabesque in contemporary can “fall” or “curl”, or drop into floor work. Contemporary is normally performed barefoot (though half-shoes and pointe shoes are used too). Contemporary dance is fusion. Its foundations are lots of things! — ballet, jazz, hip-hop, breaking, and capoeira and other martial arts, folk dances from all over the world. (For example, we can thank Slavic and Russian dances for barrel turns and barrel jumps!)

Modern is a free, expressive style of dancing started in the early 20th century as a reaction to classical ballet. In recent years it has included elements not usually associated with dance, such as speech and film.

TOP HAT AWARD!
Contemporary – Stage
Luna Breeze – Single Hoop Improvisation

That toe drag in a circle at :56 to a step-behind is gorgeous. That pose at 1:00 is also gorgeous! What great lines. Beautiful fingers at 1:38 and lovely lines on the way to there too. From 2:14-2:18 there is a huge variety of energies and speeds. Love the head touch at 2:21, the pose at 2:24, and the body tracing at 2:26. She has some great kicks. Her poses while one leg hooping are magnificent. So many pointy toes! At 3:28, her head turns are very impactful. That pose at 3:43 after both speed and level changes? Delicious. And her jump through at 3:45? That foot sweep at the end made that one of the prettiest jump throughs I’ve seen. Talk about a high impact move! Lovely poses while foot hooping and that one leg across the other knee enabled that beautiful belly roll over. I loved the butt spin and that one handed eggbeater afterward was in the opposite direction (anti-spin), which made it look even more impressive. Perfect example of dynamic changes. So is 5:09, which is a kick forward into a step back. I love all her toe drags. 5:15 is a good example of moving backward with them. Talk about a dynamic ending too. I loved the speed up, slow down, spin, pause, pose of it.

TOP HAT AWARD!
Lyrical – Living Room
Jessica Cohen – Lyrical Hoop Fusion:

This is the sweetest dance. It has heart and soul. It has beautiful technique. The dress is perfection. There is even a beautiful backdrop like a stage for this dance! The dance itself is the best part though. Lighthearted and uplifting and magical.

TIP OF THE HAT!
Lyrical/ Ballet Hoopdace Fusion
Jessica Cohen Double Hoop Lyrical/Ballet Hoop Fusion:

I really like the showmanship in this one. I remember see it originally, watching it twice in a row and loving it. It’s good to see it again here. She makes great lines and the fact that her shoes match her stockings make those lines even longer. Love the start from the back. Love the way she works the camera and this girl knows how to play some pauses too. Her musicality and beat punctuation are great and that pose with the two hoops behind her lovely. I love her costuming and I love her hairography.

 

TOP HAT AWARD!
Modern Contemporary
Jennifer Dennehy –  Dafmark


Jennifer is one of my favorite hoopdancers and hoop teachers and this dance exemplifies both her dance training and her complete dedication to and immersion in the moment. This dance is completely engaging. It’s fun to dance it with her too. This is one that has some edits but they are all from the same dance. I had to make en exception to so the piece of armwork at :08. I loved that. She could have done that all day. Before the :30 mark she has taken us through so many energy changes! The pose at :39. Breathtaking. That step-through at :55. Breath-catching. And I love that step-in-and-step-out on the opposite side at 1:00. The way she winds the hoop down at 1:33 is lovely, like a hug, and the flip after it? Delightful.

TOP HAT AWARD!
Reggaeton
Rebecca V

I love reggaeton. We actually study some reggaeton moves in the Putting The Dance IN Hoopdance group. I was happy to see this submission. I love her opening walk away from the camera. So deliberate and her foot placement and the way she’s dragging her hoop are perfection. She starts with some behind the back moves, which are some of my favorites, and I love that they are with the back presented to us. I love that she starts with her feet so close they appear to be one line. I love the drop it like it’s hot at :40. Totally reggaeton! She uses her hips a lot also, which is also reggaeton (one of my favorite parts!) I love that smear with the leg circle that she does in repetition at 1:00.I love having the hoop in lasso and doing hip circles. Lasso is a perfect hoop move for featuring a body movement. The sideways pin up girl pose at 1:39 is cute as a button and features booty too. Reggaton is a lot about booty and hips. It’s also about hair touches and she has some great ones. 1:48 for example. I like that knee travel at 2:14. I love that she is not afraid to show her back and that look back over the shoulder at 2:43 was epic! That knee pinch break she was repeating was great for featuring hips. That drop at 3:09? Prettiest level change ever.

TOP HAT AWARD!
Salsa
Lilly Hoops

Lilly is sassy. She starts out with a pose. She holds her hands in the perfect salsa pose and has beautiful articulated fingers that make them look even more interesting. Her salsa footwork is perfect. Those sizzling expressions at the camera too! So dangerous and inviting. Salsa! A sizzling Latin dance of hotness. She has great beat punctuation. I love the way she works the camera. That traveling step at :43! I love how she came from back to front there and that footwork was really interesting. She does it again at 1:04. I loved the hoop change. The second being right under the camera was cool. She also did some very pretty body touching and body tracing with her free hand.

TOP HAT AWARD!
Shadow Dancing
King B – Shadow Dancing to Johnny Hathaway:

This is mesmerizing. I could not look away. I loved it. I am excited there is a Shadow Dancing category too. We actually got a few shadow dances! This one makes me feel things. I really appreciate the mood. This is an introverted dance. She has a complete connection to her hoop that is compelling, and with the low light it creates this feeling of intimacy that is wonderful. If there was a Top Hat for creating mood, I think it would go to this one or to Brooklyn Proper above.

TOP HAT AWARD!
OUTSTANDING HOOPDANCE FUSION – SUSTAINED (SUFI) SPINNING
Em Niemerg – Hoop Healing
Emily has some of the most creative sustained spinning I have ever seen. She is willing to strike an unusual pose, hold it for many repetitions, and then make small changes in the pose to achieve different effects. For example, she begins with the hoop behind her back, arms through it and straight out, and keeping her feet very close together, simply spins. Having the feet close together is important. It allows the hooper to stay in one place if they don’t want to travel and doesn’t distract from the pose. Emily slowly bends her elbows until her hands are touching her head. It’s basically the same pose but with an flourish that makes it different. She also closes her hands all the way to her head creating a triangular shape with the arms on each side of the head. Notice she then puts her hands into an open prayer position behind the head. Hand work that makes a lovely diamond shape because the tips of the fingers touch and the tips of the thumbs touch, but the palms don’t touch. Just the simple act of raising the arms raised the hoop so that it went from vertical to horizontal and then dropping the arms changed the planes again. Then at :37 she goes into another pretty pose, hoop still behind her, arms still through the hoop, but this time she places her fists on her sides so that only the elbows are holding the hoop flat against her back. (Actually, the fists don’t quite touch her sides because she needs them to stay in the hoop. The size of the hoop affects how close you can get to actual body touching but that touch isn’t really necessary. Her hands are in fists and it still makes a very pretty pose that alludes to body touching and closed lines.) She goes through a series of pretty poses after that — one arm above and one below the hoop (with arms long), both hands holding the opposite side of the hoop, one hand holding the opposite side of the hoop… She does a lovely stall where the hoop is on her shoulder, not her core. She does a chest stall and holds her elbows high, fists close to her heart. Then she returns to both hands on the opposite side of her hoop and, as she turns, she turns that into a horizontal smear, using the hands to hold the hoop and smear it around the body. I love how she follows that at 1:25 with one long arm holding the other side but the bent arm over the top, holding the back and elbow out. I also like that her body is positioned toward the back of the hoop in this pose instead of being centered. It’s almost as if her arm is resting over the top of the hoop like you might rest your elbow over the back of a couch. And @1:30 she changes planes simply by lifting the hoop from horizontal to vertical. Because of that bent elbow in back, she is now in archer pose and her directed gaze looks out over that long arm. Gorgeous. Notice she is also holding the hoop tight to her so that there is no gap between her back and the bottom of the hoop. The hoop is behind, something I love, so it frames her in a very pretty way and allows her to lead from her chest, from her heart, as she turns. Also, check out her posture. Her posture is really good, her shoulders back and down instead of rolled forward, and that’s what gives her such a full range of motion as she moves the hoop in these ways. (That elbow poked through helps pin the hoop against her so it doesn’t come away from the body as she turns.) Having the shoulders low on the back is required for what happens next, when she relaxes the vertical hoop backward and flat so that it is behind her like a superheroes cape (1:40) and notice she didn’t rush to get there. Sustained spinning is not about rushing between poses and that particular pose requires being able to relax the hoop back (ideally with and exhale so you’re relaxing all over). As she continues to relax the hoop down, she changes her head position from looking forward to looking up. This makes her line look longer and the pose look different. Changing your head position during sustained spinning is one of the things that makes a lot of people dizzy. Do not rush into this! Learn to keep your chin level, work on increasing your rotations without speeding up, and then slowly experiment with small head movements, remembering to slow to a stop if you feel dizzy. (Don’t just stop. Slow to a stop.) At 1:53, once the hoop is all the way down, we have another pretty pose! The hoop is against the back of the calves and the elbows are up creating lines from the shoulders and down to the hoop. I really like this pose. Her hands are along the outside of the hoop, fingers pointed down, and it looks so pretty. Then here comes ANOTHER pretty pose! She lets one of those elbows drop until she can lay the forearm of the arm along the small of her back. Boom! Gorgeous. The arms look a bit like a yin/yang, only with one arm behind the back. I adore that pose in particular. Notice how she segues slowly through planes, arm combinations, and poses. At 2:10 she begins to integrate some different footwork, in particular a backward slide followed by a little pirouette with the toe of the free leg to the knee of the balancing leg. She has gorgeous pointed toes and her toe actually touches the knee closing that space and creating the shape of a triangle with the leg. (Shapes!) At this point there is an interlude of hoopdance with pretty footwork and moves and the change adds variation to the dance. Then she returns to the sustained spinning, this time pinning the hoop to her belly instead of her low back. This puts the hoop in front of her instead of behind and opens a whole new world of poses. The dance gets increasingly complicated, small turns where the feet barely left the ground turning into pirouettes, turning into tiny leaps — all while posing and spinning. She adds some level changes simply by bending her knees so that she and the hoop both lower. During the spin at 3:28, she takes the hoop off the body and holds the arm in an interesting way — a V, elbow down, then as she raises her arm, she tucks the back of the free hand at the small of the back and, bam!, she’s making an S shape. Then I love at 3:35 how she puts both wrists through the hoop and stalls, balancing the hoop on the wrists and flat out in front of her. This is one of the many unique poses I really like from this dance! At 3:54 she centers herself in the hoop and, keeping it flat and level, slowly lowers it (keeping herself centered), then raises it, in small equal amounts so the hoop appears to float. She spent 8 counts (spins) taking it down and 8 taking it back up. Perfection! Then she stayed at her tallest lift and repeated for a few circles before coming down and switching poses. Sustained spinning is one of the places where you really see the value of repetition! I love the one-handed float she does at 4:22. In this one, her hand is on the inside. I have seen her hold the hoop from the outside (from underneath) to pretty effect also. At 4:34 she simply spins while waist hooping (sometimes stalling, sometimes not) and it is gorgeous. A lot of sustained spinners forget all about waist hooping. That pirouette (4:36) while the hoop was stalled on the waist? Epic! At 4:55, her hand is underneath the hoop, other arm straight out, and she makes a gorgeous T. She could also have lifted the hoop to create a floating stall with the hold on the outside if she had chosen. Her final pose is a forehead stall and it’s a lovely way to wind the dance down. So much juicy goodness in this dance!
TIP OF THE HAT!
HOOPDANCE FUSION – SUSTAINED (SUFI) SPINNING
MoBot – Edmonton Flow Fest Cabaret:

I had to give a shout-out to this dance too. It not only has some beautiful sustained spinning, some of it is with elongated legs to the turns are, in effect, fan kicks! Mo does lots of kicks and they are really breathtaking, starting with :12. What an impressive way to start  a dance. At :26 is the first fan kick. She does lots of gorgeous toe drags to and that split followed by that beautiful chest opening and arm extension takes my breath away. At 1:09 you see some pretty extended arm sustained spins and I love what she does with her free hand there also. The pose at 1:23 is very, very pretty. At 1:36 she adds a small barrel jump to her sustained spinning! I love the neck stall at 1:50. Her switch to two hoop sustained spinning is gorgeous and notice how when she puts both hoops in one hand, she sweeps the free hand across her shoulder in a pretty body trace. She could let it rest on the shoulder and it would be gorgeous too. At 2:22 she begins a series of toe drags that turn into pirouettes that are glorious. It’s also lovely how she separates the two hoops for floats at 2:34 but keeps them level and parallel to one another. Mo has some very pretty two hoop poses that look great while spinning and the move at 2:52 is similar to one we highlighted in Emily’s dance. And THEN she switches to pretty three-hoop patterns! Some are horizontal, some are vertical, and many of the combinations draw from ancient indigenous hoopdances. Notice how at 3:29 she does a level change just by going up onto her toes! (Or really, the balls of the feet but often referred to as toes.) The sudden ending was perfect in its abruptness after all that spinning (and I bet it made her dizzy!) and then her bow was just delightful! I want to add it to my list of pretty bows.TOP HAT AWARD!
HOOPDANCE FUSION – VIENNESE WALTZ
Carrie Kloss – Roses Hoop Dance

Carrie teaches ballroom dance and she brings the Viennese Waltz into this beautiful hoopdance on the beach starting at :33 in this video. The Viennese waltz is a waltz characterized by turning and it has a slight pause, a slight anticipation of the second beat in the bar. It is almost always done to slow, romantic music and I think of that pause as that moment when you want to run to someone you love but you hesitate for just a second thinking, “but what if they don’t love me back?” The wanting to go, hesitating to go, going anyway. This is what musicality is too. Playing with timing within timing to create an emotional experience. Like a lot of social dances the woman moves backward and the person leading the dance (often a man) moves forward and if you want Carrie’s feet, she is assuming the follower’s footwork and letting the hoop lead. At :59, she does some very pretty step-behinds that are like moving poses while she holds the hoop. Very effective and pretty. Then she does a barrel roll, changes directions, and repeats that move on the other side. Repetition, alternations, repetition. The putting together of patterns to create dances. She has great handwork. I love the splayed hand pose at 1:08 and then the drag down the back of the head touching the hair. There is something about touching the hair that is just pretty and powerful. Carrie does a great job of playing pauses too and representing speed changes in the music. And when the chorus comes around again at 1:22, she goes back into her Viennese Waltz and repeats that pattern of footwork. Very pretty. When the music comes to a stop, she comes to a stop. She does this several times but the full stop at 2:28 is especially good. I love how big and expansive this dance is. It’s perfect that it’s set on this wide open beach. I love that she uses tosses to accentuate high points in the music. There is a trick to timing tosses so they hit the high point at the right time (or land in your hand at the right time) so they fit the music. I loved how she slowed to the end, closed the space to the camera, and bowed for her final pose (and held it!). Well done.

VII. OUTSTANDING PODCAST

TOP HAT AWARD!
PODCAST
HulaHoopla by Hoopanista Paige Tashner
HulaHoopla is a great series of podcasts by Paige Tashner. It is by a hooper for hoopers. They are interviews with hoopers on a variety of topics. She’s up to 16 full length podcasts! Paige is a great interviewer. She asks wonderful open-ended questions, draws answers out of her guests, and always has a smile in her voice. It’s also a professionally made podcast. The sound is great, she uses sound bites and sound effects. I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Paige for Episode 13 when I was at HoopCamp last year so I got to see this particular creation from both sides. I love this podcast and if you haven’t heard it yet, you will too. Enjoy!
TIP OF THE HAT!
PODCAST
Morgan Jenkins interview on Mostly Minutia: Hooper
This is a great interview with Morgan Jenkins in L.A. and it’s cool to hear her story. She is articulate and smart and sweet. I want to share it too. She is a film maker which, if you’ve seen the videos she has creates, makes perfect sense!

VIII. OUTSTANDING BLOG

TOP HAT AWARD!
OUTSTANDING BLOG
Hooping.org – Phil Hagen
http://www.hooping.org

Hooping.org is the website that started it all. For a decade they have offered articles and videos and sponsored hoop-related funness like Hooping Idol and the Hoopies! Philo draws upon contributing authors to help him create wonderful hooping related articles for the site. The writers are very good and the content is very varied! It is the go to place for hoop information and connection. I don’t know where I’d be without Hooping.org. What a gift they have been to my life and to our community. Seeds planted by and on that site have grown before my eyes all over the place. I would be impossible to overstate the importance or preciousness of Hooping.org to all hoopers everywhere. That site has helped shape hooping just by encouraging different shapes!

IX. OUTSTANDING HOOP-RELATED SERVICE PROJECT

TOP HAT AWARD!
OUTSTANDING HOOP-RELATED SERVICE PROJECT
World Hoop Day Variety Show & Playshop – Jenny Hill, Autumn Cornell, Jennifer Dixon, and Chris Tamburro

I like this service project, which was done on World Hoop Day, a day to encourage hoop-related service projects and worthy of its own huge shout-out! Four people created a small hoop theater, did a little show, helped people wrap hoops, and then gave them those hoops (adults and kids) and then taught them to use them so when those folks left that place they had the tools and the knowledge to hoop! I like that kind of hands-on helping and I love that they did it in a theater and made it a little show. I am a sucker for theater and I bet they will continue doing this, and growing it and getting better, and the show and the event will just get better and better! I love their costumes. I like that they did this but I also love that they blogged about it along the way so we could follow the journey. As a storyteller, I appreciate people who tell the story of things. Here are Jenn Dixon’s blogs about it. She is a good writer. I’ll be checking out her blog. I don’t really know what “producing” means so I am hoping Jenny will be willing to by my first interview so I can talk to her about that. We can all learn together.

Produced by Jenny Hill

Blogged by Jenn Dixon of JennabeeHoops.
http://jennabeehoops.com/2015/10/02/are-you-ready/
http://jennabeehoops.com/2015/10/06/world-hoop-day-how-it-went/
http://www.ephratareview.com/entertainment/hoop-day-celebration-planned/

X. OUTSTANDING HOOP-RELATED ART FILM

TOP HAT AWARD!
OUTSTANDING HOOP-RELATED ART FILM
Portal

Portal is a short film made by cinematographer Gabriel Mann featuring Hooptown Hotties. It is a beautifully made film and the cinematography and scenery are magnificent. The hooping is beautiful. The costuming is beautiful. The story is interesting. I have to be honest though, the thing that sold me was a short bit that happened at 5:36 when they started doing group choreography stylized after one of my very favorite choreographers of all time Busby Berkeley. Busby Berkeley devised elaborate musical production numbers in the 1930s. They had lots of dancers, often holding props like beach ball-sized cherries or six foot tall bananas with which the dancers would make complex geometric patterns that, when seen from above, moved and morphed like a kaleidoscope. He not only choreographed dancers like the showgirls in Carmen Miranda’s “Lady With The Tutti-Fruti Hat“, he choreographed synchronized swimmers in 1930’s films. “By A Water Fall” is a good example. You can see his influence in videos by bands like OK-GO and now that drone technology exists, I would love to see a lot more Busby Berkeley-inspired choreography! Hoops are perfect for it, especially brightly colored ones. That sandy set was gorgeous and the shadows added another dimension to the kaleidoscope created by the arms and legs opening and closing. I loved the whole film but that bit really inflamed my imagination. Beautiful film

XI. Outstanding Hoop-Related Documentary

TOP HAT AWARD!
OUTSTANDING HOOP-RELATED DOCUMENTARY
“One Hoops” by Monelli Films

“One Hoops” is a documentary about Jenny Hill, a hooper, over a series of months. I love the way it’s made, a different aspect each month. That’s all you really need to know. I watched it and it made me feel all sorts of sweet things and I like seeing this story told. The filmmaker is Alexander Monelli at http://www.monellifilms.com/ and the film is about Jenny Hill at www.actsofjennius.com

TIP OF THE HAT!
EMERGING ARTIST – Sheila Sumrell

What I like about the series Sheila started in 2015 is that she gets hoopdancers all over the globe to dance to a single song and then she edits them all together into a single dance featuring all these dancers in all these different locations doing all these different dances. It’s wonderful. I know for a fact that Sheila had to learn a lot about editing to even undertake this huge undertaking and that she’s gotten better at it with each one she’s done. Another thing I like is that it connects hoopers and creates a community through dance. It’s a wonderful creative community collaborative. I also love the topics she chooses to celebrate. This was their first one, “No More War”:

XII. Outstanding Hoop-Related Blast From The Past!

TOP HAT!
OUTSTANDING BLAST FROM THE PAST!
Erica Edelman aka: Natasha Hoops at Cincinnati Fringe Fest 2007

This was one of the first fusion hoopdances I’d ever seen — hoops and bellydance. Apparently it affected other hoopers as much as it did me because it got nominated a few times and made me glad that I included this category. If you haven’t seen this, you are in for a treat.

TOP HAT!
OUTSTANDING BLAST FROM THE PAST!
Lolli Hoops –  Movers, Shakers and Innovators Showcase

I had to share this little burlesque number too. It is so clever and I love how she uses humor throughout the whole act. Her skirt was lovely while spinning and made for a great reveal too. I love the powder gag. That’s brilliant. And I love that she revisits it later in the dance too. This is a wonderful dance with a great hook and I am happy to celebrate it again.

So… There you have it. My completely arbitrary and subject favorites and choices. I hope I was able to help you pinpoint even one move that becomes part of your dance! I hope this also inspires you to make and share hoopdances. Now that this is complete, I intend to reach out to some of these artists and interview them. Hopefully I can figure out a way to do it in real time so people can write in with questions if they have them.

I also want to say, if you shared something and you don’t see it here, please do not be discouraged!!! I did not see a single bad dance! Just a lot of amazing dances. It made it hard to choose and ultimately I think I chose based on teachable moments as much as anything. I am grateful for each and every dance and submission that was shared with me. Thank you.

Thank you also for making and sharing hoopdances. It enriches my life so much and I know I’m not the only one. I really appreciate your courage and creativity and sharing and I give a tip of my hat to you all. Each and every one of you!  You are all spices in the amazing dish we call hoopdance and it’s better for having what you offer! Thank you for sharing. Thank you for being.

Top Hats

DANCE LIKE NO ONE’S WATCHING
DANCE LIKE EVERYONE’S WATCHING

Circles of Joy Hoopdance Awardinternational hoopdance awards

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