When I was in the third grade, I won the hula-hooping competition at my school’s field day because I was able to keep a hula hoop going longer than anyone else in the school. Since I was the smallest kid in class, winning a competition was a big deal for me.
So earlier this year when Merrie Go Round and I went to see the the Carolina Roller Girls in Dorton Arena, I was transfixed more by the intermission show than the derby itself (sorry derby girls!). During intermission there was a rhythmic performance of hoopers to the simplistic beat of a drummer. The main hooper, Julia Hartsell, aka Julahoop or Jewels, created amazing dances with a hula hoop, while the other dancers used streamers, sticks and hoops as well. It made me want to grab a hoop and start dancing along with them. On the way out I grabbed a business card, and on Monday morning I told the assistant Fair manager, Mike Pleasant, that we had to try to get this local act at the State Fair. The act, named HoopDrum, is comprised of Julia and Scott Crews, both of Carrboro. Julia is a hoop instructor and Scott teaches music.
I recently posed a few questions to Jewels about their involvement at the Fair this year.
What can fairgoers expect from your performance?
HoopDrum unites mesmerizing hoop dance with entrancing beats to weave performances which spin audiences into a magical world full of infinite possibilities. Scott lays the foundation with percussion and loops which will have your body bobbin’. Jewels brings together circus skills, martial arts and dervish spirit to hoopnotize and inspire. HoopDrum will delight viewers of all ages!
How did you start hooping?
I started hooping in 2001 after seeing a giant hoop at a Mountain Oasis Festival in Western NC. Instantly mesmerized by the soothing quality of the hoop, I was inspired to make my own. It was love at first spin! I began hooping every day, which eventually replaced my yoga and belly dance practice. Within a few months, other folks wanted hoops of their own, so I began crafting hoops, teaching workshops and expanding my hoop horizons. For 8 years, I have been sharing hoop magic with communities near & far.
Was Scott part of the high school marching band?
No, but he does have a marching trap set that he loves to parade with these days! He has been playing music for 15 years,
Is there a difference between hula-hooping and hooping?
Hula-hooping comes from the trademarked “hula hoop,” a toy released in the ’50s. The size/weight of these particular hoops created a movement that is fast and slightly awkward. Hooping refers to the revolution of handmade hoops of a variety of sizes, weights, styles which have facilitated an empowering, graceful dance and meditative movement for individuals of all ages. Hoops are used for exercise, creative expression, community building, spiritual practice and/or accessing the child within each of us.
Do you choreograph your routines or is each performance unique?
Each performance is unique. We sometimes choreograph full pieces and other times I flow responding to the music as it inspires me so that audiences witness the magic of spontaneous creation. Most often, our performances are a mixture of the two, more similar to a jazz composition in which we create a structure with designated changes and allow space for improvisation.
Do you recommend hooping after eating a funnel cake?
I don’t generally recommend hooping right after eating, but hooping could help replenish your energy if you’re feeling the sugar/wheat crash from a funnel cake. 🙂
What is your favorite fair food?
Sweet potato fries.
If you could choose the next deep-fried food at the fair, what would it be?
Tofu…maybe with a spicy Asian style sauce:)