UPC brings film, performer to educate about hula hooping

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Editor’s Note: This article was completed as an assignment for a class in the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

A hooping revolution has begun making its way across the world, and K-State has joined in the movement. The Union Program Council presented “The Hooping Life” Monday evening in Forum Hall as part of the UPC’s Awareness Week. The documentary, directed by Amy Goldstein, shows the hooping life stories of several hoopers and hoop troupes. Earlier in the day, a hula hooping demo and contest was held in the K-State Student Union courtyard.

“The film has lots of different elements, arts and human interest,” said Ashleigh Herd, film co-chair of the UPC. “It’s an artistic outlet that can reach lots of different people.”

Herd said the UPC reviewed the documentary in the spring semester of 2010 as part of an independent film grouping. After the viewing, it was decided that they would bring the documentary to K-State.

Showing the documentary presented a unique opportunity for the UPC that they do not usually have with films they show, as they were able to have a performer from the film accompany it. Karis, a performer, renowned hooper, entrepreneur and fashion designer, was on hand for a performance and a question and answer session after the film.

“It’s a great new thing to bring a performer in from the documentary,” Herd said.

The exact origins of hula hooping are unknown; however, the hoop gained international popularity in the 1950s when Wham-O, a California-based toy company, successfully marketed it. Since its introduction, the hula hoop has been used as a toy and for exercise, and is now seeing a new modern use in dance and performance.

According to the documentary, hooping is making a debut in night clubs from Los Angeles to New York City as a form of entertainment and new dancing style. Troupes of hoopers and individuals are choreographing performances.

Others are using the hoop as a form of new expressive modern dance while some use the rhythmic, physical motion as means of therapy.

After the documentary showing, Karis took the stage to perform his choreographed work. The majority of his work revolved around gender performance. Karis, who is openly gay, said that gender performance, where he can be both male and female, comes naturally to him. His self-proclaimed “primal performance” is made relatable to the crowd by the presence of the hula hoop, a familiar childhood toy, Karis said.

Karis began hula hooping as something light and fun to help remove negative things in his life. Growing up in an underprivileged, traditional Mexican family, Karis found that hooping helped him cope with the issues in his life and his family’s reaction to his homosexuality and artistic desires.

“You can’t be mad and hula hoop,” Karis said in the Q&A session following his performance.

Karis now tours the U.S. and Europe performing for crowds and designing his own fashion line.

Daniel Theisen, sophomore in mechanical engineering, had time between classes and an evening meeting to stop in and enjoy the presentation.

“I think it was a very interesting show,” Theisen said. “I enjoyed the documentary. It had a fun and upbeat positive message.”

Several members of the Happy Hippy Hoop Troupe were in attendance as well and enjoyed the film and performance. The troupe meets each Thursday afternoon in the quad to practice and share their skills with campus.

Anna Clary, junior in horticulture and member of the troupe, expressed her joy that K-State and the UPC were recognizing hula hooping as something out there.

“It’s a hooping revolution!” she said.

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