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A family of hoopers

Hutchinson siblings have been performing together for 15 years


Remember the hula hoop? Remember trying to keep the hoop up around your middle? Did you laugh when a friend succeeded--or didn’t succeed? Most of us haven’t thought about hula hoops in the many decades since they were a craze. Now, spinning a hula hoop is making a comeback as an aerobic exercise—and as performance art, at least for one Hutchinson family known as the Amazing Hoopsters.

Tyler spins a fire hoop at the Montgomery Torchlight Parade. Hooping in the dark gives the Osmonson’s show a unique twist because they used lighted hoops. Contributed photo

Maneuvering hula hoops has been a developed skill of the Osmonson family’s performance art for two decades, as well as a form of physical and mental exercise. Each of the four Osmonson children (now all adults) move multiple hula hoops, using their arms, legs, ankles, and necks to twirl the hoops. Their development of hooping performances was a natural offshoot of independent learning in their home-schooled environment.

Rachael Osmonson began hooping 22 years ago when she was four years old, she was soon joined by her younger siblings. She explained, “We were self-taught. The years of practice developed the skill of maneuvering the hoops with grace while working together as a team with my siblings. We learned tricks through guidance, and sometimes with sibling competition, which we choreographed into routines.” The Amazing Hoopsters include Rachael, 26, brother Tyler, 24, and two sisters, Kristina, 21, and Courtney, 19. They began performing as a group about 15 years ago, appearing at a wide range of events such as fairs, festivals, summer gatherings, holiday parades, etc.

To make choreography easier, the family identifies their tricks with names such as “isolation” or “four in a column.” In the first trick, it appears as if the hoop is spinning in the air while it is kept isolated. “Four in a column” describes four hoops spinning--above the head, at the neck, at the waist, and at the knees—all in a column.

While the Amazing Hoopsters’ mother, Julie, is involved in the choreography of the performance, their father, Keith, is in charge of sound and lights, as well as making and repairing the LED hoops.

“We use special custom-made LED hoops made by Dad in order to keep up with the needed repairs,” Rachael explained.

Performing often

Over the past decade of performing, The Amazing Hoopsters soon became used to being on stage, alternating between day hooping performances and face painting on the side of the stage, with the final hooping show of the evening augmented by LED-lighted hoops. The length of a typical performance is about 50 minutes. During performances, the Amazing Hoopsters stand on their hands, take a crab position or stand back-to-back, all the while keeping the hoops moving. They incorporate gymnastics and teamwork. The grand finale may feature the Amazing Hoopsters taking turns hula-hooping while also jumping rope.

The Osmonsons not only work with hoops, they also offer face painting. These photos were taken in the early years of performing. The kids are now ages 19-26. Contributed photos

Because the shows create substantial interest in the audience, the Amazing Hoopsters often are approached after a performance, especially by children.

“We try to give kids pointers whenever time allows after each show,” said Rachael. “We offer free ‘lessons’ to spectators of all ages to try the hoops, and we assist those who have never hooped before. It takes time and effort to become fluent in developing desired skill. My advice is to keep practicing, and don’t give up if it happens to be difficult.”

During breaks between shows, the Amazing Hoopsters offer face painting. As with hooping, the Osmonsons developed their sketching skills through many years of practice. They learned about art by gravitating to the areas that sparked their individual interest, and putting their observations into practical use, such as the face painting.

Guiding the Hoopsters

“I cannot do what they do, but I can guide them,” said Julie. “Keith and I home-schooled our children with the goal of helping them develop critical thinking, and to recognize and develop their individual strengths, and to concentrate on them. Keith and I have provided resources and guidance to enhance their education and additional skills.”

Each of the four children completed Minnesota’s high school curriculum at age 14 and went on to study college courses. All four earned two-year liberal arts degrees, and also completed supplementary college courses.

Performing onstage, and preparing for the performances, is not the only activity on which the family focuses. They also do natural market gardening on what Julie describes as “just a couple of acres.” This activity has provided them with the opportunity to add and develop horticultural and marketing skills to their long-time performance arts experience, as well as offering a change of pace from performing.

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