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Not the playground hula hooping: Maine dance instructor takes hooping to new heights

Dance teacher Nettie Gentempo is hula hooping every day and sharing her journey online.

NORWAY, Maine — How many of us can say that we do something every single day that is good for us, improves upon a skill, and helps us connect with our body? Probably pretty few. A woman from Sumner is doing just that in a most unusual way. 

Since she was little, Nettie Gentempo has been dancing. In high school, Nettie and her sister started their own dance studio called Neveah Dance Circus.  But everything changed for Nettie when in 2010, while at a music festival a member of the Boston Hoop Troop showed her how to do a move with a hula hoop and then handed her one. 

"It just turned a key for me," explains Nettie who then realized she could incorporate hula hooping into dance. 

Nettie says hula hoops are the perfect prop to get new dancers comfortable. 

"It's almost like a security blanket." 

Nettie says the hoops allow dancers to focus on the prop instead of worry about how they might look. She also says it's perfect for getting boys involved in dance because it is gender-neutral. 

Nettie teaches dance and hula hooping at her studio and online but when COVID hit, all her gigs and classes dried up. She decided to use the downtime to up her hooping game. She took personal instruction classes from an accomplished hula hooper in Australia and decided to invest more time into her own personal practice. 

Credit: contributed
Nettie Gentempo, Hula Hooper extraordinaire and dance instructor from Sumner.

Every day since Jan. 1, 2021, Nettie has been posting videos of her hooping on with the hopes that it will inspire others to move their bodies. From videos at the beach or in the grocery store parking lot, Nettie says the only rule she has for herself is that she practices at least one minute every day. She says that one minute often turns into hours. 

Because hula hoops for adults are hard to find, Nettie makes her own from plumbing tubes and often gives them away because she wants to share the joy hula hooping gives her with others. 

Credit: contributed
Nettie Gentempo, Hula Hooper extraordinaire and dance instructor from Sumner.

"It becomes an extension of myself in my movement and it feels like I'm flying...it feels like it's wrapping itself around me and it has a real ethereal feeling," Nettie says. 

Spend a little time with Nettie Gentempo and you can't help but think; life is short, why not hula hoop?

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