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Beata Varga from Dancing Star Holistics is originally from Hungary and is now residing in the UK in Hampshire.  Like so many hoop dancers, Bee, as she is sometimes known, has proven to inspire me and so many others, especially as she became an advanced hooper in a relatively short space of time.  Her natural hoop style is fast, dynamic and courageous and she is well versed and highly skilled at giving voice to the potential of hoop dance as a healing therapeutic tool.  Lucky for us as she’s agreed to answer some of my questions!  Get a mug of something hot and sit down and read!

 

 

 

 


 





 

Beata, thank you for taking the time to respond to my curiosity and answer my questions!  Tell me a little about how you came across hooping?  What was it about hoop dance that attracts you to it?

As most of us, I was aware that exercise should be part of my life. I sort of knew I was guilty by not doing much, then picked running up. Running was fab when the weather was nice, but if it wasn’t nice, reaching out for my trainers took ages. I just had a hard time convincing myself that I want to go for a run. On top of that my feet look horrid with all those calluses, like if I was a rhino. I didn’t really feel or look great – initially I lost some weight but I struggled to carry the rest of it. Although I kept records and wanted to keep myself motivated – most of the time it felt like something I have to do, not something that I love to do.

Looking out for something that works, fun and I can do, was a long process. Youtube was amazing because whatever activity I could think of, there were tons of videos that I could watch and learn from. Hooping came out of the blue after another hundreds of clicks away maybe after plyometrics and pilates J - I didn’t mean to end up watching Hoopalicious and Hoopgirl videos, but I got hooked and blown away!

 

What has contributed to your ability to learn so quickly?

So quickly? Well, most people say my progress was impressive, but there is a saying in Hungary that my mom keeps repeating about me. It is something like: one doesn’t mount a horse with half a bum. So if you get on the horse, put the whole thing there. With most things I am quite restless. If there is something I want to do, I will do it, whatever it takes. Bruises, aches, ages it takes ... None of it matters. I am a person of sacrifices – I give up stuff a lot (watching TV on the couch, reading magazines, messing around with makeup...) because I know: at the end of the day I am very very happy. We have to learn to prioritize – hooping is on top of my list, as well as my studies or keeping my dog happy J

 

What if anything did you find troublesome to learn?

I suffered from back pain when I started off. I was very stressed out at the time – too much responsibilities and too little time I guess. Stress makes your upper back funny (it is this fight or flight reflex that probably everybody knows) so I was stiff and in pain most of the time and spinning a hoop round my waist was easy-peasy, but when it came to shoulder hooping... I guess that one thing took me 2-3 months!!! I just had no flexibility up there, no sensations whatsoever other than the odd pain like if I was stabbed in the back with a knife. As soon as I started shoulder hooping, the pain slowly said goodbye.

 

Why do you think some peoples’ bodies allow them to learn movement quicker than others? 

This is obviously something that I can only have theories about at this stage. I study Osteopathy, so I seem to have a lot of theories now J Maybe when I will do my research project or qualified, this will be one of the things I will want to find out. I am just such a pain in the bum – if you ask my lecturers, whatever assessment I have, there always seems to be some link to hooping.

My theory is that everybody could get just as good as they want to be, all it takes is fitness, flexibility and a problem solving attitude.

Fitness because it is just so hard work, I am breathless after a hoop session and preferably we have to keep such sessions going on for a while, so cardiovascular fitness is quite crucial. If you get tired you lose your technique, you can’t perform things you imagined and it is just a pain.

Flexibility is handy, but it comes – that is the kind of thing that I keep talking about when things do not work out. It is synovial fluid that is injected into joints when lubrication is required. Once this gets going, you are fine. All it takes is a few minutes of activity. Maybe Alexander Technique gets into this a bit when I try to explain it, but we are just not used to performing the right kind of movements – mobilizing your shoulders or doing a booty bump is new to our body and it takes some time to get that range of motion taught to our bodies.

Attitude – if it doesn’t work do not retire and accept that it is something you can’t do. If others can do it, why is it you who can’t?...   Just try to find out why you are not doing it right, imagine the thing in slow-motion or try different stuff, just never give up.

 

Do you think it matters about the rate of how someone learns and do you think there are ways to increase the rate of learning? 

The rate of learning varies with individuals – as I can see many people have different backgrounds (sports, health...), sets of minds and so on. Increase the rate of learning with more and more practice – if you can’t do it, you haven’t spent enough time with it J

 

I’m willing to admit that sometimes I feel disappointed that my progress isn’t as swift as I would like, I know other hoopers have had similar feelings too, what encouragement or support can you offer hoopers who may feel similar?

First of all, this is not a race. Understand that your body takes its time to get those moves at all and to get them flow. Do not allow disappointment to put you off. There are days when I mess everything up, so I know that is not the day to do 2 hours of hooping. When it flows and feels like heaven, there is no way I suggest you to put the hoop down. Practice more on the days when you are the best hooper ever – that should make you feel cool and result in good progress.

 

I really enjoy how you transition so seamlessly from one move to the next in your performances, how did you discover these ways of transitioning and how would you encourage others to feel confident to combine sequences together innovatively?

That takes hours of work. I never meant to improve my flow consciously. I knew I look rubbish and it has to look better one day, but there was no one thing I could tell you as a secret recipe to get it seamless. Other than spending a lot of time hooping, one can practice to put moves together and see how it feels – e.g. how would I get  this move to end up somehow that it makes the other trick start off easily. It is like putting a routine together – join 2 or 3 moves and do not move on until it looks superb.

 

You’re a dazzling performer Bee, can you tell me a little bit about your approach to hoop dance choreography and what tactics you employ to steady any nerves you may have before your perform?

Choreography stresses me out a bit because I haven’t really got the brain for that. I have no background in dance and no skills to do it right. It is still quite crucial to have a routine if you are given 3 minutes to show off your skills, you will want to show off the best of your stuff and not keep repeating boring moves. When I need a choreography the longest part of the process is picking the right song. Not necessarily a song that I go crazy for, but one that is not only good for hooping but relatively easy to remember and has got slow and fast bits, too. When I got the song I can then record some freestyling on video, watch it a few times and grab the bits that looked the best. I watch myself a lot and people might think I am weird, but that is the best thing ever – to be able to see what looks cool or rubbish ... to see it from the outside is part of the learning process.

Nerves? I have very little confidence which makes me very nervous all week before I am about to perform. Then I get there, get my outfit on and make up done – that keeps me busy so I haven’t got the time to worry. Just focus on how important it is for you to warm up and do pre-stretches which will take you through the worst bits because as soon as you start hooping, you will be fine. You will be in your therapeutic protective hoop and in your hoop you are powerful, beautiful, sexy...

 

I understand you’ve been hooping in clubs, what’s your experience been of hooping in that environment?  How have club goers responded to your cool moves?

Hooping in clubs is no different from anywhere else. You get the girls who look at you with envy and wish you dropped dead in the next second. There are the ones who are not shy to talk about their admiration. There will be blokes staring at your bum. There are the ignorant, the unsatisfied, the keen and friendly... Just like anywhere else – I see the same sort of people at gymnastic clubs, health food store events, psychic fayres, gyms, wellbeing events... People are human everywhere, a club is no different.

 

I notice that your hoop is a lot smaller than most peoples, what is it about the smaller hoop that is so appealing to you?  Do you ever play or perform with a larger hoop?

A small hoop (30-32 inches) was an adventure – it is faster. Additionally, a small hoop is ideal for me for another reason, too: I have problems with my wrists from a job ages ago, so I cannot hoop too much with a big one, whereas I can go with a tiny hoop for hours without any pain. The only occasion that I use a big hoop is when I teach tricks. That slows the motion down, so makes it easier for people to follow.

 

One of the elements of your performing allure is the speed at which you hoop, where did this desire to hoop faster stem from?  Is speed key to creating a dazzling performance?  Do you enjoy slower hoop dance performances?

I wanted to be faster because I always loved watching Karis and he blows me away with his speed. Slow performances are girlie J not that there is anything wrong with them – they are sensual, graceful and lovely. BUT I am not a girlie girl –I grew up with boys - I do not mean to be sexy or graceful when I perform. All performers have different stuff to show off – some can look seductive, some are acrobatic or meditative... we all cater for different audience and have different styles – mine is the Duracell style when I get my heart-rate kick the ceiling in 30seconds. A performance can be dazzling even if it is not about speed but I do not have the skills for that J

 

You have a wonderful playful quality to your hooping too and you seem quite fearless with the tricks you pull off, how would you encourage hoopers who do feel fearful when learning something new to feel confident and safe to push the boundaries and explore?

What can go wrong? It is not gonna chop anyone’s head off. If it only costs a few bruises then it is worth learning that move. Bruises go away in a few days and you will be a master of that move forever – great deal, huh? J

Being playful makes it a lot easier. If I was acting sexy, how embarrassing it would be if my hoop flew away in the middle of a performance. I am just playing and that blows all my worries away. Adults are too serious, that is why they have ulcers, cancer and grumpy faces. Hooping is about health and happiness.

 

Often hooping in an opposite direction can seem quite disabling, how did you find hooping in both directions?  Have you any precious pearls of wisdom in strengthening the ability to hoop in both directions?

I do most things in one direction. Sometimes when I am bored I try the other. Eventually most of us will end up being able to do most things both directions, but that takes ages and I only started 7 months ago... for some unknown reason I do not worry much about the other direction J

 

I know that you are a practicing massage therapist and osteopathy student and have read your article for HolisticLocal about the holistic elements in hoop dance.  Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Woohoo! It is like ‘tell me about veganism’ – only ask stuff like this if you have the week off J I can go on and on about it. Holistic health is my biggest passion – being able to heal completely naturally, being able to see what the real reason is if things go wrong... allopathic medicine makes people blind – if people have a headache because they do not eat regularly, let’s give them a painkiller! Is it not easier to eat? Or if they are fat although they hardly eat anything... we can get liposuction, medication... move your bits folks and eat because your metabolism is a slow motion video. Hooping is one of the best medications we could take, it makes us feel well mentally and physically and has got so many aspects that it needs scientific research. I have case studies and records – so when I have enough stuff I will probably write a nice big report.

 

Can you explain how hooping improves the posture and how the hoops contact across the body aids that process?

We don’t care about posture, do we? It doesn’t sort our mortgage out or buys us holidays, so we just neglect it. My friends think I am weird because whenever we go to places I watch people’s posture, stance and conformation... I am like if I was on a slave market and commenting on the quality of the items. Many people do not realize the amount of stress they put on their bodies by not carrying themselves right. Homeostasis is not a cliché – we need balance and our body will try to achieve balance whatever it takes to keep us functioning. Just a little imbalance can result in really nasty stuff in a few years. Humans have a longer shelf-life than what they think. It is not natural to be overweight, have diabetes, kyphosis or a heart attack just because we are 40 or 50. Just by walking and sitting in a healthy way we can prevent problems from developing. Posture is about fitness, most sports improve posture anyway, but hooping is extraordinary. We hear about core muscles all the time but we seem to neglect the fact that an hour socialising at our local gym doing Pilates or Yoga is not going to help. You might not necessarily do things right whatever class you decide to join – you might not get the attention and that attention might not come from someone who is fully aware of the secrets of human anatomy and physiology. A hoop is nasty enough to tell you off is you are not doing things right. There is no way you keep it going if you are not doing it right. It consciously makes you hold yourself upright and it strengthens your core muscles so one day you will no longer care about how you stand or sit or walk – those muscles will just make you do it right.

 

I’ve begun the process of researching how hooping helps those who experience depression, it’s already well documented that exercise can help improve the symptoms because the body releases chemicals that feels good to the body and improves mental well being but do you think hooping does something extra rather than being an exercise choice similar to going to the gym or jogging? 

Again, to come up with facts, we need to do some proper research. At the moment my theory is that hooping gives you an extra because you learn things. I met people who doubted they can keep a hoop going and after a few minutes with me they were doing fine – I cannot put into words how happy they were, they hugged me and kissed me. We all get explosively happy when we can do something we never thought we could. Hooping has got the ‘wow factor’ – you can impress people with the simplest tricks, and how good that feels if people say “well done” or “wow”. We are social animals but contemporary lifestyle seems to be so isolating and we no longer seem to care about real values. Hooping generates some attention, admiration and happiness. How could we show off with jogging or aerobics unless we are professional athletes... Hooping does not only look fantastic, but is relatively easy. Hooping is a happy pill.

 

Do you have any insight as to why spinning and turning whilst hooping induces meditative qualities and how does this improve the well being of the hoop dancer?

Maybe what I said about nerves applies here. Your hoop surrounds and protects you – creates a space that is only yours and separates you from the outside. It switches all the nasties off. I am not very spiritual, so probably I am not the sort of person who can put this into words very well J

 

I’ve heard a lot about synovial fluid around the joints for many years and have never fully understood to my satisfaction exactly its purpose in helping the body stay flexible, can you explain simply how hooping helps increase the production of synovial fluid around the joints and the benefits of this?

Any exercise creates movement and friction – like in an engine: bits need to be lubricated to glide nicely. Our body is not going to waste fluids just for the sake of it, so it would make an extra effort only when it is needed. When we exercise our body is stimulated to lubricate our bits so we do not move like robots – to make the process safe and gradual we invented warming up! J It is a measure of prevention from injury, to get rid of friction. Hoopdance makes us perform movements that we wouldn’t otherwise do, so it makes all those bits lubricated that are left neglected when we run or do other exercises... tiny shocks (the hoop hitting here and there) and touch act as a massage, helps metabolic waste products go away, fresh nutrient rich blood and oxygen come to the scene... we all know that massage is good, but it is tricky to get one when you are running. Hooping is an exercise that comes with a freebie massage J

 

I’ve noticed that my joints click a little bit more than they used to since I’ve been hooping regularly, I always warm up before I practice too, is this evidence of my synovial fluid working for me or ought I to be concerned?  What advice can you give hoopers to reduce injury or undue stress on the body whilst hooping (for example if they notice something different like clicking in the joints like me or aching after hooping, does the aching signify that the body has been stretched and stimulated etc)

I wouldn’t be concerned if there is no injury. If you haven’t been involved with sports in the past, your new hobby will be a shock to the system. An untrained body gets injured easily and heals slower. To get trained, you do sports of some kind and the beginning will always be difficult. Do not expect big results overnight – it can take a full year or more for your body to understand that you are now sporty. Sedentary lifestyle does not expose you to certain dangers, so your body is not quite prepared to respond well and quickly. Once you are an established hoop-athlete, you will be like nettle: difficult to harm J

 

How have you seen your physique improve since you began hooping?

I have changed so much that my mom wouldn’t recognise me! I have put my “before” picture on my website, too. It is just incredible. Even though I was running, I was still fat and never had a waist or girly curves. Look at me now...                                                        

 

I know you recently performed and was a finalist at Salisbury’s Got Talent, how did the predominantly un-initiated to hoop dance respond to your routine?  Do you think club goers around the UK will see more hoop dance performances in venues?

Oh, the talent show J: In the first minute people were so motionless that I started to worry. I couldn’t figure out what it was about. Then I encouraged some involvement with my body language – that was the right thing because they convinced me in a fraction of a second that they loved it J We need more publicity, so if it is up to me, you will be seeing hooping everywhere! I do gymnastic club open days, commercials, clubs, fayres, markets, festivals, competitions, you name it! If there is space for a hoop, I will be there and I encourage all fellow hoopers to do the same!

 

I know that you are passionate about music too, what is on your current playlist?  Have you ever performed with a live band yet?  What was it like if you have?

I love folk music, especially Hungarian and Hungarian Gipsy. When the Hungarian Gipsy band, Parno Graszt, came to the UK, I was there and got them hooping as well! I love drums, too – so hooping for Cadbury’s Wispa was a real pleasure. Live music is magic. Otherwise there isn’t much that I do not enjoy listening to – sometimes I am excited, angry, relaxed or sensual – there is music for each mood. Most of the time I listen to classical, folk or rock music though J

 

With 2008 saying goodbye to us what aspirations have you got planned for 2009 in relation to your hoop dance performing and instructing?

I have to be so much better! So I have decided to do more training J proper training. Instruction wise I have a lot of things coming up – I am tutor of an adult education programme as well at Fairfields Arts Centre in Basingstoke – I am more than honoured!!! This sounds very cool, because hooping there is not just a fitness class or something, but a proper course J yippee!!! Maybe this is what I will be putting more elbow grease into: to get hooping recognised as a therapy and proper skill – this is way more than sweating on a stepper or messing around on an exercise mat. Hoopdancers are so rock and roll and I want the world to know about it J

 

Check out www.dshoops.co.uk!!!

 

NB from Janine: For anyone wishing to learn about Alexander Technique then I can recommend a book called  Body Learning by Michael J. Gelb it provides a beautiful introduction to Alexander Technique and is a highly accessible read!