Me…. on International TV!?! Hula Hooping pays the bills

25 Jul

South Florida hoopers appear on international TV:

(my recollection, in as few words as possible)

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A few months ago while I was finishing up my internship in Washington, D.C. I had a near anxiety attack thinking about how I was going to pay my bills and whether or not graduate school was a feasible financial option for me at this stage in my life, especially with undergraduate loans haunting me.

I picked up my hula-hoop, aka my zen circle and began using it as a de-stressor as I always do. I heard a notification sound come from my iPhone, it was a Facebook message from someone I didn’t really know. Christine Karaki, from the Miami Hoop Machine, was asking for 6 “sexy hoopers” to perform on a Spanish awards show to appear on Univision, and it paid.

Check out Christine’s blog post about the show here.

My first impression was, “this has to be a joke.” But, the money was much needed so I decided to say yes and see where it took me. Was I really agreeing to perform on Spanish TV? I’m too white for this, I thought.

The days went by, and as Christine received information from the producers, she relayed it to us. We were going to be performing at an awards show called “Premios Juventud,” which translates into “youth awards.” The producer described it as “The Latin Grammys.” No pressure.

I began to see familiar names on the message list, girls I had hooped with at various events, and the legitimacy of the whole program started to take shape. After one of the girls who was supposed to drive down from Gainesville couldn’t make it, my “hoop daughter” or the girl I taught to hoop, Brenna, took her place.

Our first rehearsal was at a dance studio in Kendall. Brenna and I carpooled to the tiny warehouse studio and waited for the other hoopers. They all showed up one by one, not knowing what to expect.

When we all got in the room, we were simply excited to jam. Christine put on the song, “Pegate Mas” by Dyland y Lenny. The fast-paced Latin song was definitely out of my comfort zone, and it was the one we would be performing to in the show.

Christine also informed us that we would be standing on 4-foot-tall platforms with people surrounding us in the audience so we rehearsed while standing inside hula-hoops to get used to being restricted in a type of dance normally categorized as uninhibited.

The producer brought us new LED hoops that day to take home and practice with, but we had to return them after the show was over. After having my $150 hoop broken, this made me sad. But I made the most out of the four days I had with that hoop.

Our second and only other rehearsal was two days before the show, that took place in the Bank United Center at the University of Miami. It was supposed to start at 6:45, but it ended up being closer to 8 p.m. Seeing the other dancers who had obviously performed in front of crowds like this before scared me.

When our turn was up to rehearse, someone escorted us to the auditorium. The set was beautiful, I felt as if I had hopped into a TV. But then we saw our platforms and the anxiety struck. Four-feet high with wheels, this was scary especially after we signed a waiver in Spanish that said we wouldn’t sue if we were injured.

It was ok though, we had collaborated together and tried to choreograph the beginning, middle and end of the song just in case our nerves kicked in and we froze.

The music started and………… was completely different from the song we had choreographed. The live version was a remix, and after multiple efforts to get that version of the song to practice to, we all decided to just freestyle.

The day of the show felt like it went on for days. We had to be there by 9:30 a.m. and our performance was the grand finale which started at 11:02 p.m. We were put into a room with all of the dancers and musicians and were asked to stay there the entire day.

We took advantage of the space in Pitbull’s dressing room and practiced whenever we felt like it.

We met some pretty cool people while we were there, and some of us tried to network to get more gigs.

Finally, the time came and the dancers for Dyland y Lenny were called to go in. That was us. I felt a rush of adrenaline go through my body that was currently squeezed into a  blue liquid Lycra bodysuit.

A guy in a suit wearing an earpiece came up to me.

“I am your bodyguard,” he said.

I felt pretty official as he held my hand and walked me through the crowd and lifted me onto my platform.

The music started and I pretended I was hooping at a giant party….with more than 30,000 people. The song ended as soon as it began. It was over and I couldn’t have been happier.

A child’s toy had brought me confidence that I never would’ve imagined having. I am a reporter, who is usually behind the scenes, not in the spotlight. This circular piece of tubing is totally underestimated.

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