Monday, February 15, 2016

2/14 Heard Museum - World Hoop Dancing Championships

If you have never been here, you must visit the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix next time you are here.  It is one of the best Native American art museums I have ever been to. I have come several times, and always find something new.  So, when I heard that they were having hoop dancing championships, I thought about renting a car because parking is impossible for a motorhome in that area.

However, then I found out there was a good light rail system and lots of parking in the Park and Ride lots, I decided that was the best way to go.

I have a lot of still photos and also some video.  Since this was a world championship, dancers can from all over North America.  The preliminary rounds were the day before, so the dancers today are the best of the best.  The first group I saw were the over-40s "senior" competitors. Here are a couple.  These guys each danced for 7 minutes, which is pretty strenuous I think because they must never stop dancing during that time. Here are some other rules:
  • Must pass body through every hoop
  • Hoops should not intentionally fall
  • Designs should not fall apart
  • Must catch hoops when thrown or spun
  • Feet in time to drum
First, here is one group of drummer-singers.  There are two groups that take turns drumming and singing.  Make sure you play the video located after the photo. 

And here are some of the "senior" category dancers.  There is a video of the first dancer just below his photo.  He was very good, as you can see.

This man had grey hair, but was one of the best.  The man sitting in the chair with the blue shirt is one of the judges.

And there is a video of this dancer, also, just below this photo.  Look how many hoops he has going at once.  Notice also how the dancers pick up hoops with their feet.

This dancer was a woman.  Most of the dancers were men with only about 20% women. I more videos, but figure there are too many to post, so I have only a selection.  No videos of the next two dancers.

The man in the purple shirt sitting on the chair inside the ring is one of the judges.  There were two judges for each set of dancers.

I took a break and had some lunch.  Normally, you get pretty awful food in museums, but this was excellent: a turkey sandwich with "real" baked turkey, melted Brie cheese, and very thin slices of Granny Smith apple on the sandwich.  Excellent!

Since it was lunch break for the dancers, I took an hour and walked through the museum.  I had been here before, so did not spend a lot of time.  They have hundreds of Kachina dolls, most donated by Barry Goldwater, by the way.  Another prominent donor was Sandra Day O'Connor!  Here is just a sampling of the museum.

After lunch was the children, ages 6-12, competition.  This little girl was only six, but did pretty well for her age.  She was a little nervous, so hugged her mother before going on.  Check out the video below here photo.

This girl is a little older and also does well.  Video after photo.

And a twelve-year-old boy.

Check out the complex patterns he makes in the next three photos.  

And a slightly younger boy.

Overall, it was a great day. It was hot in the sun, but there were places around the edge where you could find shade.  Next time, however, I will bring a small folding chair.  It's something I would easily come back to another year.  


  1. Wow would love to see that. I've seen some hoop dancers at mountain men outings. They are amazing

    1. I was lucky to be here for their championship. Apparently, it is held here each year, so check for next year. Not too crowded, and I had an excellent sandwich at the museum café! Early on Saturday, they have a tiny tots contest for under 6, where all the kids who participate get an equal share of the prize money. Also, there is a parade of dancers the first thing each morning of the two-day event. I will come back again when I can, but not next year.