Whilst looking for cool and
funky hoop dancers to inspire me I accidently chanced upon an amazing
performance by someone I’d never heard of! Ayumi, hails from Japan
and is a stunningly beautiful hoop dancer, when I began researching her
I couldn’t find much information so in true Spirit Hoop Cake fashion I
approached her to find out more. Lucky for us she agreed to answer my questions!
Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview Ayumi. Can you tell me about how you came into contact with hooping?
Thank you very much for interviewing me. I’m proud to be given such an opportunity.
I think the first contact with hooping was Burning Man.
I visited there for the first time in 2004. I should have seen some
hoopers there but I was not so impressed until the summer of 2007! I saw a video of Karis on YouTube by chance. He rocked me and I started hooping from then.
What was it about hoop dance that was seductive to you?
width of expression. When I saw the video of Karis I felt the high
potential of hoop dance as an expressive medium. You can play in various
styles, vigorous or subtle or sensual.
Are you a self taught hoop dancer or did you receive training from anyone?
a pupil of Mario and Justin who are the founders of HoopTokyo. They are
also the first men licensed as teachers of the HoopGirl Workout. There
were no classes in hoop dance in Japan until they began to teach in May 2007.
Is there any one particular move or trick that you love doing the most?
like a combination of slow and fast movement, for example, quick
warrior and slow isolations. I think it is more important to flow than
to do a single trick.
Was there anything that took longer to learn than you expected? If so what was it and how did you maintain your perseverance?
learnt most tricks almost immediately except raising a hoop from waist
to chest without arms. It took a whole month for me to get it. I think
there is a difference in each person's advancement. While I could not
get it, I also to practiced the other tricks and movements.
How did your friends react when you first began to learn hoop dance? Did they ask to have a go?
I started hoop dance, I have kept practicing every day in the park in
my neighbourhood. When I was a beginner I used to spend every weekend
hooping in the large park where many people hang out. Almost everyone,
including my friends and neighbours, had never seen hoop dance before
and they were surprised and excited. It was often that some people asked
me to teach them how to hoop! There are many people who saw me and then started to hoop.
How long have you been hoop dancing now? What is it about it that holds your interest so much?
been hooping about 2 years. Anyone can learn to get tricks, but it is
difficult to hoop beautifully and emotionally. There are a lot of things
to acquire besides tricks, so hoop dance is very interesting. That’s
what makes me want to hoop.
Can you tell me about the presence of hoop dance in Japan, what hooping events have you been attending?
50 years ago, the same as in U.S.A, hula-hoop became a national fad in Japan. Now, many people think a hoop as a toy for child or an apparatus
for exercise. Now it is different from 50 years ago that the new type
of hoops are larger and heavier for adults and hoop dance become popular
little by little.
In September 2008, a book for hoop exercise with DVD was published. Mario supervised it and I am the main model and demonstrator in the book and the DVD.
Now, magazines and TV stations are picking up hooping as new exercise,
and many people have come to be interested for hooping.
There are very few hooping events like the hoopcamp retreat in Japan,
but I think that many people will come to enjoy hooping not only as
exercise but also a kind of dance in the near future.
I know that you do performances with your hooping and you have a wonderful pace, flow and rhythm to your style. How have your audiences responded to your performances? So far which venue have you enjoyed performing at the most?
all the people are surprised because they have never seen hoop dance
before. And in the case of dancing with the LED hoop audiences are
excited and trip out on the trail of light.
have performed in various places; fetish party, fashion show, charity
for children who are sick and so on. I especially remember a closing
party in a Thai food restaurant. I choreographed to Hula Hoop by Nan,
which is a famous Thai disco tune, and 2 other people and myself did a
disco hoop dance. It was very funny, so the audiences laughed out loud
and were delighted.
How do you find choreographing routines? Is there a process that you do that you can share to inspire others to choreograph their own performances? If you’re a free form performer how do you manage to successfully vary your moves and tricks to produce a good show?
listen to the music intently to catch the feeling and imagine the
situation of the lyric and melody. I hit on some ideas of routines
spontaneously, and I set the pieces of idea into one routine.
case of improvisational dance, I try to change the speed of moves
frequently and to mix various tricks because so I don’t make my audiences get tired.
notice that you have some fantastic outfits in some of your YouTube
clips, do designers approach you to perform at their fashion shows? Who has influenced your choices in hoop fashion wear?
a hoopdancer, a photographer and a graphic designer, too. I love
fashion and art, so I’m under the influence of various artists; Dita Von
Teese(burlesque dancer), Chris Cunningham(visual artist), Mondino(photographer), John Galliano(fashion designer), etc.
about fashion shows, I have performed for a certain lingerie brands
show. The president of the lingerie brand saw me dancing in a party
previously, she remembered me and had been looking for me for a while.
Finally she found me and I hooped in her lingerie fashion show! The
audiences looked very satisfied with the contrast between the model’s
bodies in graceful curves and my solid and throbbing body.
Your hooping under cherry blossom is one of my absolute favourite clips featuring hoop dance. I notice you compliment your dance so perfectly with the music you chose. How do you manage to connect so well with your music? And also how do you go about finding such unique music?
video of hooping under cherry blossom was taken when I was still a
beginner. There are some immature points but I like the video.
try to dance with the music. I choose tricks to the tune, make
routines, alter my hooping style. If you choose the same trick, you can
adjust it to the tune by changing the speed, the steps and the movement
tend to listen to various kinds of music because I can get ideas in
from all sorts of places. YouTube surfing is useful to find music.
What music are you regularly hooping to at the moment?
Techno, house, electronica, pop, rock, classics, latin, and so on. I especially love to hoop while singing.
What differences in your physique have you noticed since you began hoop dance?
I got a sharper
body than before. After having started hooping, my fat percentage fell
to about 7%. It is the same level as the athlete. I tried to increase
the percentage up to over 10% because I came to catch a cold frequently. My case is extreme, but many people may lose their weight whilst they enjoy hooping.
addition, I had been annoyed by pains in the neck and back for a long
time due to my old injuries until I began to hoop. Now the pains have
gone away because hooping is good for strengthening arms, neck,
shoulders, back, abs…every part of the body I think.
from your photos I notice you have an amazing body, is this
attributable solely to hoop dance or do you do other physical training? If so what other physical activities do you engage in to support your hooping agility and stamina?
already had a built up body before beginning to hoop because I had
trained in martial arts (Karate, Ju-jutsu and more) for a long time. I
injured my knees and neck, and I quit training. After 5 years I started
hooping and I got more of an energetic body than before. Now I am
keeping my body shape only by hooping.
On your myspace page there are some professional photographs of you with other hoopers, are you part of a performing troupe? If you are can you tell me about how you joined or recruited others to join you? What have you been achieving performing in a hooping troupe? Any particularly memorable occasions you can share with us?
I am not a member of a particular
performing troupe. Usually I perform alone, but I often perform with
someone else. Occasionally I arrange the dancers and design the stage,
or I perform just as a dancer when Mario supervises the stage.
I’m planning on doing some spontaneous hooping appearances in my area where people perhaps wouldn’t see or expect hoop dance. Have you ever randomly hooped somewhere public? How have people responded to you?
have rambled and performed with hoops in some public areas in a Santa
costume in 2007 and 2008. Some people were surprised, some pretended not
to look at us, and some were so excited and on spree with us.
in the UK there are a few male hoopers that I’m aware of and I’m sure
there are more closet male hoop dancers tucked away that I haven’t met
yet, I wondered if there is a presence of men hooping in Japan?
There are not a few male hoopers who are shy in Japan as in the UK. I think they feel ashamed to get the hoopsgoing around their waists.
In that case, I try to teach them the off-body tricks like isolation
and warrior. Many people still think that the hoops are for females or
children and not for men. If one male hooper as a performer is in
lights, many closet male hoopers will come to the outside.
What does 2009 hold for you? Have you got any exciting hoop related news that you can share with us? Any plans to perform internationally or for any commercial ventures?
As with last year, I will co-operate with others to publish books for exercise and appear on TV shows. I’m
planning to make a video featuring hoop dance in a short movie. I will
continue various activities hoping that the Japanese people come to
realize that hooping is not only an exercise but also a kind of dance
discipline and a performing art.
Ayumi thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. If you want to learn more about Ayumi then visit her myspace page, it’s as beautiful as she is!