Hoop, hoop, hurray!

Eshna Kutty, hoop dancer

Eshna Kutty | Shreyans Dungarwal Eshna Kutty | Shreyans Dungarwal

Delhi-based Eshna Kutty—the 24-year-old hoop dancer whose ‘Genda Phool’ video in a sari and sneakers was the brightest thing on the internet last week—talks about how she plans to turn hooping into a professional art-form in India.

Q/ How and when did you discover hooping?

A/ I discovered hooping some 10 years ago and got fully into it around six years ago. What I like about hooping is how anybody can pick it up. I have never danced in my life. I am into sports and hooping looked very elegant yet sporty. Initially, it was like a side hobby­—a pocket-money profession. It is only after my studies last year that I decided to do it full-time.

Q/ You have also been teaching hooping.

I have taken hooping workshops across the country. I would get invited to teach in studios across cities, in batches of 20 to 30. It slowly picked up in the last year. I saw a shift in the number of students I had. There are hundreds of hoopers now. Hooping comes under a broader term called Flow Arts, which includes juggling, poi spinners, slacklining and acro yoga, the same way how dancing has different styles like jazz, contemporary and hip-hop.

Q/ How did the sari come into the picture?

Every Indian hooper might have hula-hooped in a sari. I like to keep my practice interesting and mix different art-forms. And I love wearing saris. It was all spontaneous. I was meant to post some #sareeflow videos over a period of time. The ‘Genda Phool’ video that went viral was the third #sareeflow video on my Instagram handle. But it was not even something I was supposed to post. It was just a practice video, with me warming up to, you know, the actual insane #sareeflow content. My Instagram following has always been more non-Indians—mostly international professional hoopers. The goal of #sareeflow was to show that a distinctive community of Indian hoopers also exists.

Q/ What are your plans with hooping?

I am currently branding. It is coincidental that I was working on my company, Hoop Flow, when this video went viral. The company just got registered. I am going to be launching it in the coming weeks. Hoop Flow will be a one-stop destination where people can buy hula hoops and learn how to dance using them. I would like to host hoop festivals and build the community.

Throughout my journey with hooping, I have often shied away from telling people I hula hoop because they just don’t understand. There is a lot of stigma attached to it. So I wanted to be so popular that you don’t have to explain yourself.