Katie Emmitt Interview, Part 1
“Hooping means happiness to me, it means spiritual, mental, and physical well being.” ~Katie
When I first picked up hooping, I watched a TON of Katie Emmitt’s YouTube tutorials (I still do). She gives indepth explanations that are really easy to understand and helped me get the confidence I needed to get started with hooping. Katie has allowed me to interview her for this blog and I want to thank her for taking the time to answer these questions.
Reading through this, it’s extremely clear how passionate she is about hooping. But she’s not only great at hooping; she’s an incredibly talented artist. Please take the time to check out Katie’s website where you can view her artwork. Katie also has a Facebook page and an Etsy account where she sells hoops, artwork, and clothing. I purchased a metallic performance hoop from Katie this past summer, and I’m absolutely in love with it. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to share her thoughts with you…
Q: How long have you been hooping?
I got my first hoop from one of my friend’s dad’s as a graduation present in 2010 (he made them for me and a couple of my friend’s) and it was HUGE!! (I’m talking at least 48″ if not bigger). I totally loved it, but I couldn’t learn anything on it because of the weight. So after a year and only knowing how to lasso up from my waist, I decided to make some smaller hoops with my friends before we went to All Good in 2011. We made a bunch, and those were really the hoops on which I started to learn. By the end of the summer in 2011 I had gotten some even smaller hoops (3/4″ – 34″OD HDPE hoops – Walmart ones with the water poured out) and had become totally obsessed! I decided that I wanted to really dedicate to this art form and made the decision that I would practice every single day and try to learn a few new moves/tricks a week. I had been SO inspired by the beautiful women I saw at festivals having so much fun and looking so happy, not to mention the numerous Electric Forest Hoop Troupe (EFHT) videos from the first year (particularly Lady Stardust) and browsing through videos of Brecken and Ann Humphreys… the inspiration was everywhere for me! I just really longed to have that smooth continuous beautiful flow. So, essentially to answer the question, I’ve been hooping for a little over 3 years, but I actually only really committed to my practice a little over 2 years ago, but that was when I really saw results.
Q: What inspired you to start hooping? What does it mean to you?
I’m pretty sure my first major inspiration – the one that made me get off my ass and start practicing – was seeing Lady Stardust’s video for the EFHT back in 2011. After I saw that one, I thought to myself, “Well… if you go out there and work really hard, maybe in a year, or two, you could be that good, and you could try out for EFHT too!” So that’s what I did, and what I set my goal for.
“…how do I get other people to see the beauty in it and look past the fact that I’m literally dancing with a small plastic circle of tubing and see it as an art form?” ~Katie
And for me… God this isn’t an easy question. What does hooping mean to me? I think I ask myself this question all the time. Why does a little plastic circle mean so much? Why is it so fun? And how do I get other people to see the beauty in it and look past the fact that I’m literally dancing with a small plastic circle of tubing and see it as an art form? I think for me, hooping evolved from just being something silly and fun and a new skill to learn into something that seriously changed my view on life. I am a serious believer in the fact that spending so many hours with a circle has changed the way my mind thinks about the world. My artwork completely changed, my outlook on life changed, and my body changed too. I have become so much healthier – mentally and physically and spiritually. And I owe it to hooping, 100%! It became a stress reliever, a therapist, a way to think about my visual art, an exercise… it really has changed me, for the better. Hooping means happiness to me, it means spiritual, mental, and physical well being.
Q: How did you start learning how to hoop?
As far as learning how to hoop goes, I pretty much am completely self-taught through watching videos and tutorials on YouTube! I’m a complete visual learner, so picking up tricks by watching videos became my go-to. Always watching videos of hoopers I admire, and hoping to pick up something of their flow and take it away with me. I’d watch Ann Humphreys and practice breaks like there was no tomorrow. I’d watch Brecken and see all of her jump-thrus and shoulder duck outs and cat eye iso’s and all of her rolling around on the floor and I would try to pick up that. Rich Porter’s videos for isolations, Shakti for just being so beautiful and fluid and happy, Tiana’s badass timing… you name it I was watching their videos and learning from them. I never had the opportunity (or knew of any) to go to workshops or learn from other hoopers – I was one of the first of my friends to get into it, so I was mostly learning online. Eventually, I was learning from one of my friends’, Sofia Radin, who had been hooping a year longer than me when we met in sophomore year of college at MICA. Then Robin Gerlach (who I got into hooping) was busting out all of these crazy new moves she had discovered and it really became about learning from each other and seeing what we could come up with.
Q: What are some of your favorite tricks? What is your favorite hoop?
Favorite hoop tricks… I think this changes by the week! It depends on whatever I’m working on, honestly. For the longest time I was in love with isolation tricks – cat eyes, iso pops, linear isolations… etc. I couldn’t get enough! Then I had a pretty intense on-body hooping revival and became obsessed with knee hooping tricks and crazy inner/outer break moves. And currently I’m loving body wraps and hand spins and all those crazy escalator moves.
And, just like the hoop tricks/moves, my favorite hoop changes pretty often too! For a very long time I loved my 3/4″ HDPE 34″ID hoop, taped in tons of rasta colored duct tape. That hoop had a lot of tape changes.. and eventually became solid gold. That was my favorite for over a year. Then I wanted to downsize. So now I’m really loving these rainbow taped hoops I have, 5/8″ HDPE, 31″ID. I had a set of three, but one got stolen about a month ago. After starting to make and sell hoops and trying SO many different combinations… its hard to narrow down a favorite, because they all have different qualities that will change your flow completely.
Q: Who are some of your favorite artists or songs to hoop to?
“…nothing, and I mean nothing, is better than getting to hoop to live music. I live for that energy.” ~Katie
As far as hooping music goes, that changes too (lots of variables in my hooping.. haha.) I will pretty much dance to anything, but I really do love funk and jam music. I think initially I enjoyed hooping to Pretty Lights, Bassnectar, some of the electronic music I was seeing at festivals at the time (and I still love PL, don’t get me wrong!). After a while though, I liked dancing to music that had a different feel to it. Classic rock, like Pink Floyd, the Stones, Janis Joplin, the Dead, the Beatles… the list could go on and on. Occasionally I’ll bust out some music that is more foreign to me – xxyyxx, Thievery Corporation, Phantogram, Sbtrkt, etc. just for something different. I get bored pretty easily. I think my flow tends to identify most with the lyrical and melodic aspect of whatever I’m listening to. However, nothing, and I mean nothing, is better than getting to hoop to live music. I live for that energy.
Stay tuned for part 2 of Katie’s interview coming soon…