For members of the newly-founded Hula Hooping Club, the hula hoop is more than a toy. The hoop is a tool for dance.
The club was formed last spring by Stefany Stempien, a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience, and Lauren Woods, a junior studying pre-law. Stempien came up with the idea for the club after she attended a local music festival that featured hula hoop dancers. Stempien already enjoyed hula hooping, so it was only natural for her to contact Woods and found an organization where students could join together and master the art of the hula hoop.
After only one semester, the club has 20 regular members. It caters to all levels of hula-hoopers or anyone interested in hula hooping, teaching them tricks and skills that will translate into colorful dance routines and performances.
“Ideally, if I could get a large group of people to learn tricks and do shows that would be really great,” Stempien said.
Stempien and Woods will kick off the semester by teaching the basics of hula hooping. Eventually they will teach tricks and more advanced techniques. Stempien’s favorite move is The Vortex, a trick that she hopes will change the public perception of hula hooping.
The Vortex, Stempien described, is “the lifting of the hoop off of the body in a lasso formation.” It is the most fun she said, “because it is not that hard and it looks really cool!”
Every movement or stillness of the body affects the revolution of the hoop. One trick is keeping the hula-hoop above the knees so it remains stable. It’s a difficult move that requires practice, but it’s one of the beginner tricks that everyone in the club will eventually learn.
Chelsea Desruisseaux, an undeclared freshman, is one of those beginners. Desruisseaux found out about the Hula Hooping Club from a friend and knew it was worth trying.
“When I got there, I didn’t realize how intense it was going to be. It’s a great workout and it’s also very relaxing,” Desruisseaux said.
Once the plastic hoop graced her midriff, she was instantly addicted. Desruisseaux said she is still working on her hula hooping skills and hopes to practice more once she buys a hoop of her own.
Stempien said she is excited to work with beginning hoopers on taking their routines to the stage. Inspired by what she saw at the music festival, she said she wants the club’s hoopers to show their talents.
“I just want dedicated members to learn tricks and eventually be good enough to perform,” Stempien said.
Stempien said she wants more people to respect hula hooping. She recommended that people search YouTube for hula hoop dancing to see the potential of the activity. However, the club is for students of all levels, so no one should be intimidated by what they see online. Ultimately, Stempien wanted people to know that the Hula Hooping Club is not about conventional hula hooping — there is a major difference from what hula hooping has been and what it is today.
The club meets at 5 p.m. every Friday in the Peace Quad but will have to relocate as winter approaches. If you think you may have what it takes, you should check out the Hula Hooping Club.