Can a girl with an LED hula hoop win stardom in Canada? YES!
Street performer Isabella Hoops is a performance artist on the rise. After ten years of busking and hula hooping for cash on the streets of Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg she now has her own entertainment company in Toronto with five other artists under contract and regular gigs. This happened because of her natural skill, her charisma and determination and her natural passion for entertaining people.
Bella Hoops has a half dozen ready-made shows from cabarets, to festivals, and stunts, and spectacles that are perfect for work on the street. This girl won the CanSpin Awards Hooper of the Year trophy in 2015.
The Origins of Isabella Hoops
Isabella Hoops has always been involved in the arts. She was born into a family of musicians and was performing on stage as a toddler. Twenty years later, she earned a Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in performance acting at the University of Edmonton.
Isabella began her acting career at the Musical Theatre in Edmonton where she attended Grant MacEwan Theatre Arts. She spent five years there performing children’s musicals, and touring with the company doing shows across Alberta and British Columbia. During that time she made infrequent appearances at the Edmonton Street Performers Festival and became more and more attracted to busking and street performance. For the next ten years she spent her summers traveling across Canada touring with the Fringe Festival, both as an actor and a busker.
Since moving to Toronto in 2008, Isabella has found a home amidst the growing circus community as she pursues her career as an actor and playwright. She wrote and produced the critically acclaimed show, The Cat of Kensington, for the 2010 Toronto Fringe Festival and Everlasting Slumber with Hercinia Arts for the 2012 London Fringe Festival and 2013 Hamilton Fringe Festival.
How does a good artist become legendary?
How do you kick it up a notch when you’re already putting everything you have out there on the street? There are many answers, depending on each performer’s discipline. Better costumes, more compelling crowd-calls, and more scenic locations especially when shooting videos are some of the obvious ideas. But going further, street performers need to brand themselves with simple but iconic street identities. Throw2Catch, Rubberband Boy and Silver Elvis were just some of the more memorable acts on the streets of Halifax last summer at the 2017 Buskerfest.
Street Performers in the Age of Instagram
A good busker already has no limits. He or she can ‘set up a pitch’ in a crowded place and make cash any day of the week. But today in the digital age there’s another audience platform and potential revenue stream found on everyone’s phones. Instagram can make buskers famous overnight, and has made such talent calling cards for outdoor festivals rather than after-thoughts. Once these digital artists exceed five thousand followers they will begin to get offers from agencies and brands to perform publicly with sponsored products and services. These plugs pay cash.
Instagram offers a whole new audience platform, and this innovation must be embraced as a fast-track to a global audience. The best publishers enter and dominate a community by prolifically posting incredible and of course original material.
Other technology has also impacted the industry; the last decade saw the introduction of LED glow-in-the-dark accessories that have made night juggling and hula-hooping more possible, and indeed these props look spectacular in near darkness.
What’s Next for Isabella Hoops?
What’s next? The next big gig. How does that happen? For buskers to become celebrities they must create a hot new attraction. The fastest way to the top is to have something special, a super-stunt or thrilling spectacle that can become your signature show. Bella doesn’t just hula-hoop; she brings her own style of dance and rhythm to the hoop to create an extraordinarily memorable visual experience. Her circular hula-hoop frames her natural antics and makes a platform for ‘rhythmic clowning’, and she’s got the material.
Song and dance routines can always be improved but if you really want to get people’s attention, you must use fire.
Isabella Hoops debuted NorthFIRE in 2017
NorthFIRE features a diverse set of highly skilled variety circus performers doing stunts set to music with fire hoops, poi, staff, acrobatics, fire breathing and some exceptional pyro techniques. This high energy show with choreographed fire acts astonish viewers who audibly gasp when fireballs rise ten or fifteen feet into the air.
Working with fire is challenging. There are only a few places in Toronto where the team can rehearse without the fire department showing up, and yes, she has been burned. “If you play with fire, you will get burned’ Bella laments, showing this author the scars on her arms and hands. “But I haven’t set my hair on fire yet, so I’m doing better than most who’ve learned everything the hard way.”
Readers can learn more of what’s its like behind-the-scenes at a small town winter festival from a street performer’s point of view on Isabella Hoops Entertainment’s website blog, ‘What happened at the 2017 Markham Festival of Lights’.