When I first found hoop dance, I knew I had a spark for dancing but I hadn’t yet explored it through formal training. My first exploration into Hoopdance was a class my college roommate and I took with Jessica Katharsys at the UNC Greensboro Student REC center, and I am so appreciative for the training she offered. With my hoop dance teacher and roommate by my side I felt very comfortable taking my favorite childhood toy as my dance partner.

The school year ended and my dear instructor moved out of state, but my roommate and I had plenty of new hoop dance friends to swap tricks and dance with all summer long at the weekly community Hoop Jam – I couldn’t get enough!

My hula hoop and I went everywhere together! We had our favorite spots: the room with the high ceiling, that spot in the yard. I found myself hooping to celebrate, hooping to meditate, hooping for hooping sake, and enjoying learning new movements left and right. As my skill expanded, my ability grew allowing my movements to flow with every rotation of my hoop.
…and then eventually…it wore off and I began feeling stale. I danced less and less with my hoop, and for shorter sessions.

Then it dawned on me: I hadn’t learned anything new in a while. I was disenchanted with doing the same few trick combos and only spinning in circles. I felt ready to push past the hooping plateau, and infuse my hoop dance practice with more dance.

If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, knowing you can bring more to your hoop dance flow…
I completely understand. I’ve been there. Many times. I’ve learned to stay ahead of the ebb, and I find my flow time and again by changing up my routine.

Designing my unique and dynamic hoop dance flow gives me joy, and I’m excited to share tips for finding your own personal style! 

First…find your why. Ask yourself some questions – what do you love about hoopdance? What do you admire about your favorite hooper’s movement or style? What fundamental elements get you going? Is it the art of illusion? Using movement to create shapes? The grace of balance, coordination, and harmonized motion? The cathartic experience of cardio release? 

Second…take a moment to consider what inspires you. Define for yourself how you want to make the most of your movement practice, then commit yourself to it. Once you’ve reflected on what calls to you and defined your intentions, you’ll find inspiration all around!

Third…expand your style. Here’s the biggest insider secret I can offer you: learning from and with others undeniably propels personal growth. I shake up my routine by taking a variety of classes from esteemed local & visiting instructors. I often invite my friends to attend these new movement classes, and it’s great fun to experience and grow together! Don’t feel limited to learning only within the hoopdance community! I enjoy movement training that doesn’t involve my hoop, and such practice is an important part of my hoop dance journey.

Katja’s Inspirations & Influences from alternative movement practice classes:

Yoga/Flexibility Training taught me to control and consider mobility, balance, and flexibility and to move with breath…to be mindful to breathe.

Belly Dance particularly inspired me with the dynamic chest movements as well as the practice of keeping on my toes (hoopers are notorious for turning on their heels which is poor form & will quickly lead to injury).

Hula Dance enhances my ability to tell stories with my hands, a culture I hold near and dear since I had the pleasure of spending my childhood on Oahu.
Choreography Classes keep my movements open, refresh my body from the same comfortable combos, and introduce new muscle memory from drilling counts. Choreography classes are a unique look into the instructor/choreography creator’s flow.

Stiltwalking refines my balance & confidence in standing tall 8’ tall! I’ve been very positively impacted as an entertainer by my stilt walking practice.

Fourth and last…a little bonus tip: capture and display your inspirations on a movement mosaic. This will allow you to solidify your focus on an influence board, a picture collage, a bulletin board of keepsakes from classes/workshops, or word art. I highly recommend putting it somewhere you can see it regularly celebrate your unique inspirations!

Here I captured my inspirations and goals through symbols and words that were meaningful to me. I pinned it on my bedroom wall, where I can look at it often!

How does a Movement Mosaic lead to dynamic hoop dance flow? It encouraged me to immerse myself fully in understanding the things that inspire me and helped me recognize the value I gained from my class experiences as well. Every glance at my Movement Mosaic gives me another opportunity to celebrate the fantastic impact each inspiration has had on my unique flow!

We all have our own individual set of experiences and influences, and your movement mosaic will be a reflection of that. I hope you feel inspired to celebrate movement practices that ignite the spark in you!

Tag me in photos of your Movement Mosaic on Instagram @katjahoops 

Author Katja Wise, Photographed by Madison Brendle

Soon, we will be adorned with creative costuming elements from head to toe!

Hi! My name is Katja Wise, and I am a special events entertainer and hoopdance instructor based out of Raleigh, NC. When I first started costuming, I wasn’t sure where to turn to create my costumes. There were fantastic examples set for me by phenomenal, thriving performance artists in the Triangle…but I still had to figure a lot out by research, trial, and error. I hope this post will inspire you to create your own costuming details with fantastic shapes and dramatic, theatrical effects, while also being resourceful!

That’s right, put your wallet away and hear me out: we can achieve completely original, professional-quality performance looks on a shoestring budget! With a little investment of time and money, costuming doesn’t have to be a major expense.

If DIY (do-it-yourself) is a completely new field for you, it may seem hard to get started. Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” Creativity is a journey that challenges me to grow, because I know the more I invest in and explore my creativity, the more creative I become. I am grateful for the creatives who inspire and challenge me, and who celebrate my creations with me.

  • This post is for you if…you want to put just as much time into looking great as you spend practicing your performance craft. I keep my tutorials simple, for easy time-management.
  •  This post is for you if…you also want to be mindful with your money. When I have the opportunity to put in a small bit of time while also saving money, I get excited! 
  • This post is for you if…you want to achieve one-of-a-kind looks to provide the astounding characters your clients want.

There are only two ways to get that one-of-a-kind look: you either buy a one-of-a-kind costume or you make your own. You can choose to outsource, hoping others will see into your mind’s eye…or you can DIY to bring your vision to life!

Are you ready to save money and be a DIY Diva like me?

Here are my 5 tips for being a resourceful costume creator:

1) REDUCE, REUSE, and – that’s right! – UPCYCLE

Whether from your closet, a friend or relative’s closet, or a thrift store, upcycling saves time & money when costuming! When I upcycle articles of clothing, I look mostly at the pattern, fabric type, and the existing seams to determine what cuts/adjustments I’ll need to make and whether it will be worth the time it would take to save on fabric costs. 


A hot glue gun is the ultimate handcrafting weapon for creating ornate headdresses, masks, 3D effects, and more. It’s a small investment, and chain craft supply stores often run sales on mini hot glue guns. These are portable and easy to use even for on-the-go costuming. I never go anywhere without my hot glue gun!


Pro Tip: Use Tape or fine threads/small/loose stitches for temporary fabric re-shaping. A dress can be worn as a scarf, scarves worn as chunky bracelets, and pants in layers. I consider myself a sculptor of sorts as I twist, tuck, tie, and adjust garments into new shapes for new uses! Taping and loose thin seams work well for short term costume situations, since tape can easily be removed, and loose, thin stitches can easily be restitched to suit another purpose. 

Original Jumbo Shrimp costume design for “Under The Sea” themed event in Wilmington, NC. Photo Credit to fellow stilt walking performer, Irene!


One of my favorite looks is big shapely hair through stuffing and twisting! Save paper towel rolls and trim them to size, then stuff hair to create a molded dramatic look. Well placed buns also help. Complete the look with details that add sparkle or enhance the theme, and create unique hair accessories by hot gluing trinkets, flowers, or foam sculptures onto hair clips and headbands. 


Finally, keep a grid-lined notebook nearby – great for both writing and drafting to scale – for sketching, note taking, and other creative musings. You never know when your inspiration will strike so it’s important to store your ideas for later reference. Also consider using this notebook for outlining your special event costuming prep timeline. Organizational details like these are critical for DIY planning & the creative process. If you find yourself in a slump or creative plateau look back on your sketches and notes to refresh yourself with all your past inspirations. 

Keep a grid-lined notebook handy for scale design and planning.

So there you have it! DIY is a crucial element to creative and original costuming, and it can also be an enjoyable process. Watching your materials transform into the costume you’ve imagined is very rewarding, and your crafting skills will sharpen rapidly with dedicated practice.

To learn more through a one-on-one guided tutorial about how I create certain costume elements, please comment your requests! 

By putting time and effort into DIY costuming, it becomes effortless, and you will immerse yourself in creative flow. If you are intentional balancing your time and money resources, using these 5 costuming life-hacks will give you amazing DIY costumes while also enhancing your creativity!