High Country Hoop Troupe expresses flow arts through hooping

Boone+local+Corinna+Smith+hula+hoops+on+Sanford+Mall.+Photo+by+Ariel+Green.

Boone local Corinna Smith hula hoops on Sanford Mall. Photo by Ariel Green.

Ariel Green

While hanging out on Sanford Mall or “Hippie Hill,” chances are there is a hula-hooper or two showing their skills on the lawn. Hula-hooping is a part of a larger culture known as flow arts. Flow arts can be described as prop performance including different flow toys such as hula hoops, poi, which is a toy or prop, staff and wands. This art of practice showcases the elements of rhythm and illusion, creating a “flow” for spectators to marvel over.

The flow arts community here on campus is known as High Country Hoop Troupe, a club formed in spring 2015. Members of Hoop Troupe meet once a week to practice together, learn new tricks and admire one another’s flow.

Hoop Troupe welcomes all flow arts, even those who have never picked up a prop. Shauna Caldwell, senior art education major and president of the club, brings multiple hula hoops to each meeting just in case any newbies decide to drop by.

Julia Wood, sophomore apparel design and merchandising major and a regular attender of Hoop Troupe, said one of the best qualities of the flow arts community is its inclusivity.

“Everyone I have met has been so kind and willing to help each other improve, as well as teach anyone who wants to learn,” Wood said.

Anyone is welcome to attend a learning prop performance and everyone can develop a flow, Caldwell said.

“You don’t have to be great at it, you just have to be willing to try and have fun,” she said. “The more you practice, the better you will get, and our flow family is there to encourage you every step of the way.”

Caldwell said lots of people get into hooping and stay in Hoop Troupe because of the welcoming community.

Caldwell, Wood and Rachel Wynn, junior accounting major, all got into flow arts through friends who practiced and introduced them to the community.

Performance is a significant part of the flow arts community, Wood said. Whether it is showing a few people a trick or spinning in front of a crowd, showcasing talent is common.

Wood said it is awesome to perform in front of peers.

“When someone nails a really hard trick or learns something new, it’s a win for everyone and we all get really excited,” Wood said. “We’re very proud of each other, and it definitely makes us closer.”

Last semester High Country Hoop Troupe was asked to perform as halftime entertainment during an App State women’s basketball game. Another major platform to perform is at Fire Flow on “Hippie Hill.”

Fire Flow is where flow arts light up, by adding fire to props. The event is run by Inspiral Fire Tribe on Wednesday nights as long as weather permits.

“I love to fire hoop and I want to learn to use more props as well,” Wynn said.

Using different props is inevitable and conducive to the overall fluid atmosphere, Wood said.

“It is pretty common for people who participate in the flow arts to eventually develop an interest in more than one prop,” Wood said.

Wynn finds practicing flow arts meditative because of its constant requirement of physical effort. She said not only will the performer work up a sweat and get some daily exercise in, but practicing can also help flow the worries away.

“I love the meditative quality that it has,” Wynn said. “When I really get into it, I lose the world around me. I don’t even think about my next move, I just flow and flow and flow.”

Wynn said flow arts are about expression but more importantly about enjoying yourself.

“It’s a stress reliever, workout and a form of expression all rolled into one,” Wynn said.“Who would ever give that up?”

With spring approaching, higher temperatures mean more hoopers out on Sanford Mall, and festival season is inching closer. With newer music festivals like “Boone in Blossom,” flow arts culture at App State is making roots and is here to stay.

Story by: Ariel Green