Sunday, May 22, 2011

Polypro Hoops

Polypro hoop from
When the word polypro began to wander across the Hoop City  forums last year, I knew these hoops were going to be big. After all, they were promoted by Rich Porter whose name is synonymous with hoop-pioneer. Secondly, the name. If you clicked into an Etsy shop and saw listings for a HDPE hoop and a polypro hoop, which one would you look at first? I bet most folks would look at the polyPRO. Advertising repeatedly proves that names sell--especially names that suggest something desirable. Pro is positive. Pro is professional. Pro promises to transform every hooper into a bad-ass.

Polypro hoops are marketed as ‘professional hoops’ and hoops for advanced hooper. We’ve all seen jaw-dropping videos of Rich and Spiral rocking their tiny, ephemeral polypro hoops. We’ve all wondered how this potentially revolutionary tool can reshape our dance.

Well last weekend, I picked up a pair of 35” polypro twins. My regular hoop is a 36” PE (classic black) cut from ½” 125psi tubing. It is light and very springy. After an afternoon in the sun, I can feel my regular hoop squish during fast reversals.

My new polypro hoops are even lighter. They don’t give like the PE hoop during reversals. Their light weight, combined their rigidity explains why Rich Porter reports, “I’m up to 200+ shoulder reverses per/minute with my PPE hoop. This just wouldn’t have been possible with Polyethylene. At this speed you literally are pushing the physical limitations of the material.” 

I can’t pull off anywhere near that many reversals, but in one week I’ve noticed a host of differences between polypro and classic hoops. Here’s the break-down:
  • Polypro hoops soar during tosses. They fly higher and descend slower. 
  • Polypro hoops require precision. If your regular chest-rolls bounce a bit, expect your polypro hoop to catapult. Similarly, during chest rolls, you have to make sure the polypro hoop makes solid contact with your first forearm, or you’ll be tossing the hoop, rather than rolling it, across your chest.
  • Polypro hoops are fantastic for isolations. Light and responsive is key in isolation-based hooping. Plus, the current tradition is to leave polypro hoops untapped, so they reinforce the “floating bubble” illusion behind many isolations. They are, however, more difficult to keep from wobbling forward and backward out of their planes. 
  • Polypro hoops are perfect for poi-style, off-body doubles. They’re light and they’re fast, so their perfect for poi-inspired tricks. They also make moves more accessible with larger hoops. For example, with ½” PE tubing I could only link a three-beat-weave to an under-the-shoulder toss with my 30” doubles. Bigger hoops were just to cumbersome. Now I can nail the combination with my 35” polypro doubles.
  • Polypro hoops are kind to sensitive wrists, ankles, and feet. I’ve gone back to working on the kick-start, because the polypro are far gentler on my ankles. 
  • Polypro hoops love clean planes. They wobble when I’m sloppy.
  • Core hooping is harder with polypro hoops. The hoops are so light I miss the very kinetic experience of the hoop whirling around my body. They lack momentum, so I have to push more with less sensory feedback from the hoop. I’m still working to reclaim my sky-angle hooping. 

I’m not sure if this is a recipe for bad-ass hooping….especially if you’re a body-rocker. However, I recommend polypro hoops for anyone who wants to explore poi-style and isolation-based hooping, for hoopers who need a lighter hoop to protect their wrists and feet, and for any dancer who wants to delve into a faster and more precise flow within their hoop.

Shakti Sunfire dances with a polypro fire hoop at Wanderlust 2010

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