Hooping with NoFitState Circus by Sachiko Quelch

Sachiko Quelch

I’ve just come back from spending an amazing couple of weeks with NoFitState circus - rehearsing and performing in their ‘Parklife’ production which was showing in the Norfolk and Norwich festival and Brighton festival this year. I started hooping last May, at which time I would never have thought I would have the opportunity to perform alongside the extremely talented group of hula-hoopers that were part of NoFit circus. What struck me was how different ‘circus’ style hooping is to ‘hoopdance’. Whereas hoop-dancers generally work with single hoops and try and bring body movement and fluidity into their style, the NoFit performers had amazing multi-hoop and acrobatic skills. I have a newfound appreciation of circus style hooping, and really want to incorporate some of this into my own hoop practice.

In the show I took part in a hula hoop scene along with the five other hula hoop performers from NoFit, and did fire hooping in the fire scene part of the show. Performing hooping in the show was great, but was a small part of my experience with the circus compared to living with all the NoFit performers and crew. Everyone was so welcoming and having spent just under 3 weeks in their constant company - camping together, teaching workshops with the public, eating and rehearsing - I will really miss them.

One of the best bits was being part of early morning ‘Happenings’. These were mini projects used to interact with the passing public. It was through one of these ‘Happenings’ that I found myself dressed up as a cheerleader in a blonde wig carrying a briefcase and asking the public for advice on cheerleading chants in Brighton one morning! However whilst this might have turned a few heads in Norwich, the mood in Brighton was such that the public didn’t really bat an eyelid! Perhaps because it is so used to extraordinary displays such as the one we came across in the park - twenty or so people lined up in formation doing synchronised Poi to the Austin Powers theme tune, dressed in wigs and 1960’s hippy outfits! We later discovered this group was ‘PoiPassion’ and they were quickly recruited to become part of the Brighton show. I think that is one of the best things about the Parklife project - that the team collaborates with community groups and local artists and weaves them into the performance; It makes each show unique, highlights all the talent in a city and brings the community together.

May 2010