I Want To Be… A Hoop Dance Teacher!
Deanne came into my life almost two years ago, & has rocked it to the core with her love, support, insight & ideas! As well as owning Tokyomade — one of my very first advertisers! — she also introduced me to raw food, one of the things that I really believe has super-charged my life! Shortly after we “met” online, she got into hooping in a big way. Her passion for what she does is incredible, & when a reader suggested I interview her for my career series, I was flabbergasted that I hadn’t already thought of it myself!
So, without further ado… !
Tell us about what you do.
I am the visionary behind a transformational love revolution going on in Tokyo, involving lots of glitter, truckloads of laughter, massive amounts of hip action and pretty colored rings. I am a hoop dance performer and instructor in Tokyo, the founder of hooplovers.com.
How long ago did you start on this path?
Gala, I am not sure if you are aware of this but it was you and your infinite inspiration that reunited me with my inner dancer and brought hoops back into my life. Back in the days when you were orchestrating international dress up days, early 2007, a gorgeous gal called Rachel dressed up as her alter-ego Heidi von Hula. Clicking on her short video and watching what she could do with a hula hoop put me in a spin. I have not spent a day since without a hula hoop around some part of my body! Thank you Gala and Heidi von Hula!
How long were you doing it before you made it into your career or primary form of income?
About one year. In that time I took some hoop dance classes, hooped every day for up 4 hours a day, spent my spare time glued to hoop dance vids on youtube, dreamed big, visualized what life would be like as a hoop star, started planning and then headed to Sydney to meet up with my Hoop Dance mentor and sister in the spin, Bunny Hoop Star.
Did anything significant happen to get you to that point, or was it a series of small steps?
I think life is pretty much filled with happenings, big and small, that are overflowing with significance. There are a few major events in my hooping journey that come to mind. Firstly, my Mum visiting me in Tokyo and buying me my first pink, sparkling, dance hoop as a surprise. Realizing that hoop dance was a global revolution and that there were huge communities of hoopers and hoop entrepreneurs, many of whom were women was a big awakening. Going to Sydney to complete a Hoop Teacher training journey with Bunny Hoop Star and create a life changing connection. Seeing a positive, fun filled, lively community of hoopers grow in Tokyo. Opening up to the possibly that dreams really do come true, thoughts become things and I could become a Tokyo hoop star if that is what I desired. Believing in myself. Having talented, positive and passionate people around me.
Do you think official qualifications are important for someone entering your industry?
Behind all the glitter, color and spinning hoops there is an intense amount of work that goes into running my own business. I have a degree in Marketing that I guess helps with the business side of things. I have an Education degree, I was a primary school teacher for years before embarking on this spiraling journey, the knowledge and experience I gained from being in education most definitely helps me to create and execute hoop dance classes, workshops and other events. I know of a hula hoop star who has a degree in hooping from a Melbourne institute, I wish I had thought of that! I don’t think qualifications are essential but experience, passion, dedication, belief and training are!
Hoop Dance Teacher training is extremely valuable, learning from the mistresses and masters of the hoop is priceless. There are teacher training courses in Australia, the US, the UK and possibly other countries around the world.
What do you think is the best thing about working for yourself?
There are so many things that make having your own business a worthwhile choice, so many things I am grateful for. I can set my own schedule, be in charge of my life, know that the possibilities for promotion and advancement are limitless, my earning capacity has no cap on it, I can choose the people I surround myself with, connect with positive, like-minded peeps…I could go on and on…
What’s the worst thing?
Hhhmmm I am not sure, thinking about tax, insurance, account keeping, probably the financial side of things. There is no one to deposit a lump of money in my bank account each month, now it comes from many places and has to be shared around a lot more so that requires keeping track of.
Rate how happy you are with what you do out of 100 (100 being the best, 0 being devastatingly awful) on an average day.
I go to bed every night feeling giggly on the inside (not just from lack of sleep), I often find myself bursting into a huge smile when I think about the state of my life, I get to play dress ups with my friends at least once a week, I have met some of the most amazing people from all over the world, I have found the ultimate form of body changing exercise that doesn’t feel like I am exercising and I have over 50 hula hoops in my house… I would say between 95 and 100. When I am teaching a hoop dance class filled with big smiles, pumping tunes and spinning hoops it is definitely 100!
Although to be really honest, it is not all glam and glitz, there is a crazy number of hours spent in front of my mac formulating class plans, event ideas, confirming reservations, doing paperwork, getting gigs, finding space in Tokyo (ha ha what a joke! Everyone knows there is no such thing.), organizing schedules, training for shows, meeting for rehearsals, making hoops, planning costumes, creating new opportunities, updating websites and promoting hoop dance in Tokyo. When I am in the flow and feeling really creative while dealing with the business side of things I would say 85-100. When I am still up at 4am trying to get things done I would say 70.
Would you call yourself a workaholic, & if so, are you alright with that? Do you think that’s normal for your industry?
I am a Capricorn, I think being a workaholic is part of who I am, the goat always climbing the mountain. I am doing what I love so most of the time it feels like play, but if that is the case I play A LOT!! I was working as a full time primary school teacher when I started Hoop Lovers as well as running TokyoMade with my partner Masao. It came to a point where I had to make some big choices about how to balance my life, I felt like I was working 24 hours a day. The choice came very easily, I felt a strong pull towards being in charge of my own life, it felt really right and was a natural progression.
The fantastic thing about being a Hoop Dancer is that a lot of the work is creative, energizing and great exercise for my body and mind. So even though I feel like I ‘work’ about 18 – 20 hours a day now, shared between Hoop Lovers and TokyoMade, much of the work is fuelled by passion, fun and creativity. Dancing around with hoops is considered part of my work.
Other leading hoop dance teachers and performers work extremely hard, it is their life work, they inspire me greatly.
What would your number one suggestion be for someone who wants to do what you do?
Go and buy a hoop now! Assuming that you are already a pretty funky hooper with a passion to share the joys of hoop dance in your community and possibly the world, my suggestion would be go and spend some time with other hoop teachers, performers and hoop dance business owners.
…How about number two?
Be prepared to dance, work and play! Teaching and performing requires late nights, early mornings, heavy lifting (carrying twenty hula hoops around Tokyo is always a fun challenge), learning new skills very quickly, crazy amounts of networking, hours of dance, practice, drills and play. Be prepared to balance this. Know when to take time to chill, your body is the most precious piece of equipment, take care of it!
What do you wish you had known when you first started out?
More Japanese! Being a business owner can be tough, being a business owner in another country with different rules, language, customs and ideas is a wild ride! I am an Australian living in Japan with my gorgeous Japanese partner, I consider myself the luckiest kid in the world that I have his full support and endless help. I like being an independent business woman but I realize my limits and accept that I need a lot of support and help to do what I do. Being a foreigner here presents me with outstanding opportunities but there are also barriers that I find tough sometimes.
Are there any major misconceptions about your job or industry?
Lots of people come up to me and say, ‘Oh you are the hula hoop girl!” while swivelling their hips in a giant circular motion. That technique would never keep a hoop up for very long, but their giant hip action with imaginary hoop is entertaining for me to see. People also often assume that the only thing you can do with a hoop is spin it around your waist – definitely not true.
What is the best thing that’s happened to you as a consequence of the work you do?
Again, if I really thought about this and let loose I would be typing a crazy long list. My life has changed so much for the better. I have been given the opportunity to connect with some of the most inspiring, colorful and talented people in Japan, Australia and the US as well as others from around the globe. Hooping on some pretty major stages in Tokyo has been exhilarating, and looking forward to some even bigger shows globally. The chance to go to the USA for Hoop Camp, meet up with my idols and be one of the hoopers leading the San Francisco Love Fest Parade this year was a wonderfully wild experience.
The connections that I have made with other women through my teaching of hoop dance has really made an impact on my life. I have made so many wonderful friends as a result, I cherish this very much!
I have learned so much about who I am as a woman, a student, a business owner, a friend, a leader, a performer, a partner, a dancer, a learner and a teacher, I continue to soak up the learning experiences.
Physically I have become much stronger, more flexible, lost lingering fat and shaped myself into a form that I feel really comfortable with, that in itself is a really powerful transformation. I remember the days when I would wear a long t-shirt over my bikinis at the beach, these days I feel at ease whipping hoops around my body for hundreds of people dressed in little more than my underwear. I have found a path that makes me feel alive and more in tune with myself and others. I have got so much to be grateful for.
What motivates you to keep doing what you’re doing?
Seeing others gain joy and positive benefits from hoop dance, being part of a very creative global community, a desire to improve and a need to know what surprises are coming up next. Nurturing the relationships I have formed thanks to hoop dance and a need to strengthen my body and mind even more. Also, very honestly, I love the attention!
Do you think you’ll continue doing this for the rest of your life?
I have a lot to learn, I entered a very new world/industry at the age of 30, I feel like it has only just begun. I see myself as a learner and teacher for the rest of my life. I don’t think I will be performing for the rest of my life, I am 31 years old so I think I have a few years left to rock the stage. I see myself, in about 5 years, heading more strongly towards helping communities and schools to inject more right brain/ whole brain activities into their curriculum through hoops and other performing arts.
What are your next big steps?
Hoop Lovers collaborative dance workshops, Hoop Lovers retreats and Hoop Lovers in Australia. I am also looking into aerial hoop training and other forms of flow toy and fire art training. A gorgeous costume and glittering hoop range is in the making.
Who do you look up to within your industry & why?
I adore and admire the other strong, independent women of hoop dance, such as Bunny Hoop Star, Hoop Girl and Spiral, just to name a few. I am inspired by their openness to life, their individual style, I admire their voice, their ability to share their thoughts, ideas and strength with others. Beyond that I just love the way they move, groove and rock the hoops! Hoop Dance is definitely not just for women though, I am a huge fan of the powerful moves shaking up the hoop dance scene offered up by men such as Baxter and Rich. I am also a big fan of Philo Hagen, a Bay area hooper who keeps track of the global hoop dance scene via internet hooping mecca www.hooping.org.