Hooping Hype On Campus

Photo by Laura Luengas

Everyone is going to be dazed and confused, and maybe even slightly spun out if the campus’s one-year-old hooping club, New Paltz Hoops, has any say in the matter.

The club is the product of New Paltz alumni Marissa Foti and Jennifer Moretti, who both became enraptured in this flow art over the summer of 2009, when the two would set up some music, dance and design moves throughout the entire night.

“It became like a video game…each move we learned unlocked two more hoop-dancing moves,” Foti said. “It gave us a sense of accomplishment, we developed our own style and flow. Everyone who saw what we could do with the hoop wanted to try, so it became clear that we had to start a club.”

Commonly confused as identical to traditional hula-hooping, modern hooping actually involves a heavier, wider (from 44”-36” diameter) hoop, enabling it to rise, fall and ring around the hips, arms, neck or anywhere else imaginable. It’s meant to be more of a creative form of expression rather than just a mindless hobby. Foti received her first hoop as a gift from a friend and subsequent “hoop mama,” Ashley Kobylarz.

“Watching Ashley was like seeing Cirque du Soleil for free,” said Foti. “She is still, to this day, one of my favorite hoopers ever.”

Now that Foti has graduated, the New Paltz Hoops president torch has been passed to fourth-year art education major Motomi Jewell, who’s also been with the club since last year.

“[Being the head of the club] feels great! Although there’s a lot of responsibility, I am getting more involved in the hooping community. I get to meet hoopers of all skill levels, and there is always something we can teach each other,” Jewell said.

She hopes to host a hoop making session by next semester, and possibly even set up some kind of program to bring hooping to a daycare. It all depends on what kind of budgeting can be acquired, since last year some problems arose, according to Jewell.

“I really hope that the club can grow and gain reputation as not just a silly hippie thing, but as performance art/fitness/exploration of movement and space and self-expression,” said Foti.

If you’re looking to try your hand at hooping but just can’t seem to find the flow, a myriad of community members post videos on YouTube, with tricks and techniques for enthusiasts of all skill levels; whether you’re looking for how to perform something simple around the shoulders or attempting to hop though fire hoops, there’s a good chance someone has gotten it down, and up online. A few of Foti’s favorites include Sharnarose, “a Brit who defies physics” and Brecken77, a “super progressive with hip-hop influence.”

“Once you learn how [to hoop], you are automatically addicted because the movement is just natural for your body,” said fifth-year visual arts major Kara Eletto, who has sporadically attended meetings since last year. “I think people are drawn to hooping because it’s extremely mesmerizing; your body is gracefully moving against the weight forces of the hoop which creates beautiful movement.”

New Paltz Hoops can be found in the Elting Dance Studio during the winter months on Sundays, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., and invites anyone who is interested in either acquiring some hooping experience or moving on to more advanced tricks. Jewell even said she usually brings out the light-up LED hoop for a little excitement at the end. It’s all about personal form, flow and fun.

Foti said, “There are no rules, only flow.”