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Do you think Hooping is only popular in America & UK? Maybe you’ll be surprised to discover that hoop dance is spreading to many countries including Norway! Two young pioneering hoop dancers,
Anita Fiksdal & Sonja Wrenof Hoop Dance Norge have set up there own hoop dance classes and have a unique style of performing hoop dance by fusing it with belly dance! I’m proud to say they agreed to be interviewed for your hooping pleasure! You know what to do! Get a drink, sit down, relax and indulge in your new favourite pass time, reading Spirit Hoop Cake interviews!  (Anita is in Greenand Sonja is Blue a two for one interview!)





Fantastic to be interviewing you both, you’re super cool! So tell me what led you to hoop dance? Can you tell me about your first experiences?

First experiences, ideas, impressions and thoughts about hooping.. I could write a book about it! It’s only a matter of lucky coincidences really, how we got into hooping! We’ve been practicing bellydancing for some years and we were planning a performance for a bellydance event which takes place every autumn. We wanted to make it a bit more fun and out of the ordinary.. I happened to have a childrens hula-hoop which I hadn’t used for years at home and thought one day, hmm, hula-hooping and bellydance?? It would be fun to see if we could manage to use the hulahoop as just an extra effect. Quickly we realized that these small children hoops were hopeless as they are too small, and I started looking around online for something bigger, not really knowing exactly what to look for… I looked up the English word for a hula-hoop and then google lead me to this amazing site called hoopgirl.com and I was thinking, ‘’WOW there really IS something like hulahoop and dancing existing already..?’’ It looked like so much fun! We ordered hoops and dvd’s from the states, which took forever to receive, by the time the hoops arrived we knew the explanations for the tricks from the instructional dvd by heart. We just KNEW that THIS was our thing! We watched millions of youtube-videos and we were absolutely mesmerized. Then we finally received the hoops, and what started as a rainy, miserable summer turned into an unforgettable ‘life changing’ one! I was so amazed at how easy it was to dance with the hoop around your waist. We were completely addicted and the adorable little colourful bruises after the first day were just a small price to pay!


How did you go about acquiring your skills? Are there any hoop dance teachers in the area? If you didn’t go to classes how did you gather information about hoop dance tricks and moves?
No one had even heard about hoopdance before, and we were walking around downtown with our gigantic hoops and people kept asking if we were in the circus or something! We learned everything from youtube-videos and instructional dvd’s.



I understand that you don’t live in the same area? How did you find out about each other and that you both liked hooping?
We are from the same city actually; we knew eachother through bellydancing, so we went through the whole ‘process’ together. I’ve just been living in a different town these past 2 years, but all of last summer I was at home and that’s when we found out anbout hooping...


How did hooping together benefit your progress and you joy of hooping?
A great advantage with being more than one is that you can learn things in a way that YouTube and DVD’s just can’t offer you, no matter how many troubleshootings they go through. People learn, master and gain understanding different ways, also with hooping, obviously. Sometimes one of us would master a trick before the other and was therefore able to explain things in a different and maybe even more comprehensive way. As we practice different moves we develop own teqniques and styles.

Having a like-minded friend to hoop with has been of absolute crucial value for me. If it hadn’t been for Anita, I probably would never have discovered hoopdance, and certainly wouldn’t have progressed like this and had so much fun. We spent all summer long practicing outside in parks and dancing around in the streets till midnight – people must have thought we were crazy! It goes without saying that I wouldn’t have dared to do that by myself!

 

What move did you encounter that challenged you the most and took you the longest to learn? How did you maintain your motivation whilst you improved? Which move / trick do you enjoy doing the most?
Actually, the very basic ‘lifting the hoop up’ took quite a time before I could manage because I misunderstood how it was done at first, and one day when I was practicing it, I managed to do it the right way by a accident! I think the clue is to not complicate things so much, just try it a few times and the body will learn. Sometimes I would practice a particular move and I just wouldn’t manage, then I’d put the hoop down and try again the next day and it would suddenly go a lot smoother and easier, it’s almost as if you continue to learn subconsciously even after you practice it! Also I love the whole series of duck-outs, but due to lack of space and too many breakable objects inside, and cold winter outside, I’ve yet master those. My motivation was, and still is, the desire and will to do something and learn something new. If something is too easy, then the joy of managing it isn’t as great as if you invest a lot of time and energy in it. I want to challenge and develop new teqniques the whole time. Also to find motivation for new tricks, I simply look at previous tricks and challenges I’ve had with hooping, and how I succeeded with those. Looking at different tutorials also help, and receive different explanations and insights to different tricks.

I found the knee-hooping very challenging when we first started, and needless to say there were loads of blood sweat and tears (and bruises) before it was mastered.. Knee-pads would definitely have been of a great help ;) Anyhow, watching Anita, who managed this move before me, helped to keep motivation up. The chest/shoulder hooping also was tricky and there were times I thought I’d never manage. But this is one of my favourite moves now, because it incorporates forgotten body parts and above all looks stunning ;)

 

When your other friends see you hoop dancing what are their reactions like?

Do they want to have a go as well? A very common phrase (right after whether we are touring with the circus) is that ‘’No, I can’t! ‘’ Then they give it a go, and you see them smiling and having the greatest time! And you can tell that they are impressed with how much fun it is and how they might have under-rated it at first.

I haven’t really “shown off” to a lot of friends yet, as I can’t bring my hoop with me everywhere – but those that have seen have been mighty impressed. Both my sisters are now eagerly discovering the joys of hooping and I am getting positive feedback from them. At a bellydance event, Anita and I received an extra round of applause for our hoop-fusion performance and many people came up to us afterwards and expressed their astonishment. The impression so far is that the majority is positive and we can’t wait to spread the love of hooping to as many as possible.


Has hooping got much of a presence in Norway? Are there any events that you’ve been to or if there isn’t much of a hooping scene are you intending to create one?

We are in the very beginning of our process of introducing hooping in Norway. We know of very few other hoopers, but in general here in Norway, there is nothing ‘organized’, no one running classes, and I’ve never read any article or anything about hooping in Norwegian. However we do know that there is an interest for hulahoops as a fitness-tool. People love these heavy painful ACU-hoops and find them great fun and a good workout, so whether there will be a ‘hoopdance evolution’ here is quite an exciting question! So far we’ve only performed at the bellydance-event last year. We were really excited on how people would react to it, but we got lots of brilliant feedback, the audience really loved it! We’ve started making hulahoops which will be available for sale. We will be attending a fair in February, with lots of alternative ways for fitness/well being/mind/soul – programs.  We’ll be performing and arranging workshops and have some hoops for sale. Most importantly, we’ll have a decent chance to inform and give people an idea of what hoopdance is!

 


At what point did you decide you wanted to become hoop dance instructors? How did you learn about Bodyhoops? How was your experience of travelling in the name of hoop dance?
Haha, the risk of sounding cocky, we decided that even before we received the hoops! I was never in doubt that this could be a project worth developing. I did lots of research on it online and watched videos of people hooping all over the world. When I received my hoop and learned how much fun and not to mention what an amazing workout it was, we were even more certain that we had to take this further, and we started seriously thinking about going away and get some real life inspiration! Hehe, it felt like  the greatest discovery since electricity..!! The Bodyhoops teacher training weekend, short summarized, felt like a visit to a different universe! It was great meeting people who also carried around giant hoops, and whio shared the same interest. When people were talking about hooping I could relate to almost everything, and everyone had this incredible passion and enthusiasm about it.

The potential of hoop dance seemed unlimited as we started our hoop-journey, and soon we discovered that there were teacher trainings which seemed like a perfect place to start. We had already ordered all DVDs we could find and watched a thousand youtube clips, so we felt time was right to develop our skills more and actually learn from a real-life teacher Being so fortunate to discover the Bodyhoops course by browsing around on the net, we just couldn’t resist this opportunity, and decided right away that we had to go. Travelling to England and meeting other hoopers was fantastic and made us more confident as to bringing hoop dance to Norway.


How did your friends respond when you told them you were coming to the UK to do a Hoop Dance Teacher Training course?
Haha, actually I don’t think people quite managed to understand what I meant by that! It was quite short after we had started hooping, so it was all quite new, and I don’t think I even realized myself what we had actually signed up for actually until we entered the class.

Friends and family have been supportive and positive all the way, couldn’t ask for more.


How did it feel to see so many other people who also shared your passion and desire to teach?

The whole time there had been only the two of us hooping, as we know of anyway, and so it was a little weird to enter the room and see so many hoopdancers gathered ;) It was really a great motivation to meet so many hoopers with the same ideas and also to hear about their experiences with it! The experience of being together with so many people who share our passion of hoop dance was almost like a dream. A few months ago we didn’t know about hoop dance at all, and there we were suddenly amongst the leading hooping-pioneers of the UK and Bodyhoops teacher Diana. Who would have guessed? We can’t wait till the next opportunity to travel, and hopefully meet up with everyone again!


Since your training I notice you have an amazing website for Norwegian people to gain information about hoop dance? How are your courses being received so far?

We had one taster class earlier this year but due to late and too little advertising, there was only one, yet extremely happy and positive, customer! But the response from people when we talk to them about it or suggest classes, have so far been excellent and so classes will be put up during spring.

 

I think hooping and belly dance go brilliantly together! Your performances look so flowy and dreamy! How did you begin the process of combining these two disciplines together?

Belly dance is quite a ‘unique’ form of dance and you use other muscles than you'd normally do and develop a certain motion. I probably incorporate bellydance without realizing it, in all sorts of dances. So, when I started hooping, the bellydance was just natural, and that was what was also very thrilling to realise, how well it could be combined with the dance-style I already practiced! Sometimes certain bellydance-moves can actually be a helpful technique in order to master a hoopdance move. Also in bellydance you learn to isolate your body, which is very important in hoopdance..

Combining bellydance and hooping has been natural from the beginning. Both dances rely on isolations of certain body parts, so I think that practicing one will benefit the other and build skills simultaneously. Also, the hoop provides a colourful “spice” for any type of dance; you just can’t help but being drawn towards that eye-catching gem!


What is your physical background? If you’re already experienced in dance can you tell me what dance disciplines you’ve done (ballet, tap, jazz, street dance)?

I did Rhytmic Gymnastics for about 5 years when I was younger. That’s where I first realized that a hula-hoop could be used in dancing, though in quite a different way than Hoopdance, so even back then I had a thing for those hoops!
I’ve always loved dancing, and I’ve tried different styles like hip-hop and jazzballett. But I hate folowing choreographed routines.  Having to follow choreography takes away one of the most profound essences of dance; allowing yourself to be carried away by the music into your own carefree world. The hoop creates its own basic rhythm, and it’s up to you to be creative and take it from there ( Of course, for performances, choreography ain’t too bad,.. ) That's why i love hoopdance! ;)

Apart from the bellydancing there have been some occasional dance courses in jazz, ballet and some salsa – but none of great impact. Dancing has always captivated me though and I am a fan of all sorts of dance.



You both make very entertaining hoop dance videos for youtube. You have a real sense of carefree fun and frivolity in them which always makes me want to overcome my fear of flying and visit you both in Norway to join in! Anita you have a real sense of play in some of your own clips, it’s as if you’re indulging in improvising with your hoop, how would you encourage others to do the same? You also incorporate the use of facial expressions and gesture in your hooping, again how would you encourage people to be more free in exploring this aspect of hoop dance?

Dancing is a way to 'detach' yourself  from everything that’s creating boundaries around you mentally and physically. If you just let go, and listen to the music, maybe you will also start to make funny facial expressions, hahaha. You just cannot help but smile when you’re hooping! It’s stimulating and relaxing, and when you feel relaxed, you feel positive and open, and the positive energy which surrounds you will inspire you, and allow yourself to be silly and playful. Including attitude and gestures will make practice less serious and more playful and fun.

 


Sonja you have a wonderful fluidity in your body and are particularly skilled at incorporating your beautiful arm movements, very sultry! You make it look so easy! What advice can you give others to encourage them to be more expressive? You both wear beautiful outfits whilst hooping. Sonja how do you incorporate the use of those pieces of materials I’ve seen you swishing? It looks super cool by the way! I want to have a go! :o)

Thank you Janine! I think that expressiveness comes naturally if one plays music that suits one’s emotional state there and then. Sometimes I find myself repeating the same old stuff and feeling uninspired, but all of a sudden some music comes on and it is like the body just wants to play around by itself, and doesn’t care if the mind can’t follow up. Watching hoop dance clips on youtube is also truly inspirational and makes me want to get up and dance at once.


How has hoop dance impacted on your lives?

Hooping gives me energy! It has taught me to focus on something and working for it. Whether it be looking for hooping materials or learning a new trick!  I want to inspire everybody to give it a try. In an average uneventful everyday, where today basically seems the same as yesterday, you need something stable to keep sanity and also to remind you of what it’s like to develop and take care of yourself. The focus, joy and relaxation makes me feel more happy and confident as well!

What could possibly have made my life worth living before the hoop was discovered is still a mystery to me.  Ok, maybe a little exaggerated, but hoop dance has been ever-consuming since the start and I really don’t know how I would cope without. Not only does it bring about joy and pleasure in itself, it also gives opportunity to meet loads of people sharing the same passion, and possibly gives the chance to create a whole new dance/exercise-craze in a community, or maybe even a country!


Have you noticed any changes in your physique as a result of hoop dance?

Basically I feel stronger and more confident physically as well as mentally! With hooping you learn to isolate your body and use different muscles. I think this way, it makes you more aware and you feel in control of each movement, which will lead to more confidence and pleasure, especially when you learn a new move or you challenge yourself somehow and you succeed, you develop strength and you learn to appreciate your body and what it can master. And last but not least, hooping is waaaay more fun AND effective than taking sit-ups in a sweaty gym!

From the very start, I have noticed and been amazed at how quickly the body can respond to the challenges of hooping on different parts of the body, and also off-body. I believe this gives a sense of body-awareness and inner (core) strength that you wouldn’t get from other types of exercise. As for observable changes in physique, I would dare to say that hooping has probably made me more fit and toned as well as an overall sense of well-being.


Has your experience with discovering hoop dance surprised you in any way that was unexpected and if so can you elaborate on that? (ie does it help you reduce stress, help you to relax etc)

I alwas feel relaxed after hooping. If I have time in the mornings I'll pick up my hoop and put on some music, it's a great way to start the day. It makes me feel energetic, and relaxed as well. 

Picking up the hoop and dancing around is the best cure for tension and stress. The flowing, rhythmic motions are soothing to the mind, and every session of hoop dance leaves me with a fresh feeling of renewal. I also believe it is mentally stimulating, and will definitely try to incorporate a lot of hoop dance in my next exam-period ;)


I notice that you listen to quite a broad range of music, what are you both hooping to at the moment? How does the genre of music impact the way you dance? How would you encourage others to vary there hooping to respond to the music they’re listening to?

I love experimenting with different dancestyles and music genres. Music is defenitly important because it will evoke certain moods and will affect the dance style! I generally use a lot of Arabic and bellydance music, so then, obviously, my hooping style would be completely different than if I listen to something else. I also hoop to a lot of stuff within the electronica genre, anything with a funky, fun beat! Also I hoop a lot to alanis morissette, only for the sole reason that she's my favorite artist. So you can use any kind of music really, you can always find a way to adjust your hooping to it. For faster songs I prefer a small light hoop as it goes faster. And for bellydance music, I usually use a bigger one as it slows down the movements in a graceful way.

Tribal, world music, oriental, and anything funky with a good drum beat is great for hooping. The fine thing about hoop dance is that you can take any piece of music you like and together with the hoop the result will be magical. Experiment and play with different genres and notice how the hoop movements and pace changes to fit the music.

Where can hoopers in Norway go to see you perform and learn about Hoopdance? Any exciting event coming up that you can tell us about?

If anyone wanna learn, simply let s know! We would like to arrange weekend-courses and workshops in the near future. We were peforming and arranging a workshop at a fair last weekend, and it seems there is a lot of interest for hooping. So we're on the rght way! =)

To learn more about these two vibrant hoopers visit www.rockeringdans.com

(The site is in Norwegian, you can check out the videos and look at the pictures if you don’t know the language! Go on, check out the two young women who are pioneers of hoop dance in Norway!)