What?! A blog post?? Oh heck yeah....A blog post!
I have actually been meaning to get this project going for over 2 years now and it is finally happening! The idea of this "Hooper of the Month" interview thing was because I wanted to nose my way into people's lives. Hah! Kidding... I really wanted a fun way to introduce my personal community here in Toronto to some of my favourite hoopers for inspiration and to discover what particular things make other hoop communities around the globe so special.
I am really excited to see what answers we will get from hoop dancers in different communities, from diverse backgrounds, and of varying levels of experience. I hope these monthly interviews can be another positive method of connecting hoopers together and to learn from one another. And hey... a little recognition will likely be appreciated since it is usually something we hoopers love.
Each month, I will select a hooper that has inspired me. It could be someone who has taught me, a student of my own, or even someone I found on social media! It just so happens, that the very first interviewee is someone I have been following for the past few months on Instagram.
So sit back and enjoy our January interview with a woman, who I just LOVE to watch on Instagram: STRAWBERRY GILLY!
What is your name?
Hi, I'm Gilly! (sounds like Jilly) My performance name is Strawberry Gilly. For me, it's the perfect name--I'm a redhead, I love any and all things strawberry, and with it being a silly play on words, I figured it would help people remember how to pronounce my name!
How long have you been hooping and tell the story of how you got into it?
I saw rhythmic gymnastics on the Olympics when I was little and thought, "whoa!!! I wanna do that!" So, that's just what I did! I competed for several years until I discovered my love for dance and decided to put everything into that for a while instead. I didn't pick up a hoop again for about 12 years. It wasn't until my boyfriend, a musician, introduced me to a quirky little place in the warehouse district of Houston, TX known as the Last Concert Cafe. I soon discovered an abundance of brightly taped circles hanging from a tree branch. Like Eve in the Garden of Eden, I couldn't resist--I just HAD to pick up a hoop and dance and I haven't stopped since!
Where do you live and what is the hoop scene like there?
I'm from Houston, TX. With it being the fourth largest city in the country, I am constantly meeting new groups of talented flow artists. I think the scene could stand to be a little more cohesive, but we're working on that!
Who is your hoop crush? Do they have any social media channels so we can crush too?
I've always been very inspired by my sister, Ashlen. Like me, she has a background in rhythmic gymnastics and dance. When she hoops, she's extremely graceful, yet athletic and it just seems so effortless. She doesn't currently have a social media dedicated to hooping, but I've shared a video or two of us hooping together on my social media pages.
What else inspires your hoop dance flow?
I'm fortunate enough to have found a live music venue (Last Concert Cafe) that not only allows hooping, but encourages it! All sorts of hoopers and flow artists from across the country stumble across this magical place, sharing their creativity and ideas.
Another huge inspiration is my boyfriend, Randy, a musician who happens to play at LCC on a weekly basis. This adds a really special dynamic to our relationship, as I am able to connect to his performance on a visceral level.
What move or technique was the most challenging to learn? Do you remember how you felt after you finally unlocked it?
I know this sounds crazy, but for some reason, knee hooping was insanely difficult for me! It took weeks (and lots and LOTS of bruises) before I finally unlocked that trick! My friend, Lisa, gave me a couple of useful tips. She explained that if I "marched" or lifted my knees in cadence, it would make things easier. It worked! I think I probably squealed with excitement after nailing that one.
What do you do to get yourself out of a hoop dance “rut”?
What do you love most about the hoop community as a whole?
Do you consider yourself more of a “body rocker” or an “off body wizard”?
What is your hoop of choice?
Right now, my favorite hoop is my 30" UV pink polypro from Moodhoops, but sometimes I like a heavier, flashier hoop and break out my 32" Future Hoop.
How has hooping changed your life?
Hooping has enriched my life in a profound way. Being in the moment, when it becomes a meditation, is healing on a physical, mental and spiritual level.
What would you say to a hooping skeptic to try and convince them to start hooping?
Anything else you want to say about hooping?
Thank you so much Gilly for sharing with us!
If you want to check out her fancy, fabulous, hoop style, here are a couple of ways to find her:
Instagram - @strawberrygilly
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/StrawberryGilly