The Hula-Hoop Girl Twirls Again

This post is a continuation of yesterday’s (“Shoes & Thank Yous”). If you didn’t read yesterday’s you might want to.

The agreed-upon time we would meet with Jessica at the UVA Child Development Lab on Millmont St. was 12:30. At 12: 20 Joanie & I  found the parking lot empty and the doors locked. Jessica’s performance was to be part of a program for staff and/or patrons of the facility.

I wandered around the grounds looking for an open door, a person I could speak to or a notice of some sort.


It was a beautiful blue-sky early fall afternoon—big white puffy clouds against a deep blue firmament. The trees—a rich but fading green after the hot, dry summer—were rolling softly in a cool breeze.

Joanie & I leaned against her car enjoying the beautiful day debating what to do.

We figured there must have been some sort of miscommunication—most likely I misread the email (old people do stuff like that a lot!) I decided to go around back of the building to take one last good look then we would leave.

A few minutes later I came around the side of the building in view of the parking lot and there’s Joanie and Jessica having a pleasant conversation. Jessica’s Jeep is parked a few spaces away.

As I walk up Joanie is looking at Jessica’s hoop and asking about classes she teaches. Jessica looks my way—we make eye-contact. She is wearing sunglasses—they give her a cool air of feminine mystery.

“You’re here,” I say with a big smile, “where is everybody—shouldn’t there be more cars in the lot—shouldn’t the doors be unlocked?” I walk over to Joanie’s car and take out a manila envelope of prints I’ve made for her from the last shoot on the mall.

“Yeah, well—there should be,” Jessica says looking toward the building. I hand her the envelope. She thanks me.

“I don’t know what happened,” she says as she puts the envelope in her car. “I hope I didn’t miss it and stand them up.”

I look at my watch—it’s now 12:35 and everything is still pretty empty and quiet. On Millmont Street a few hundred yards away, light Saturday afternoon traffic passes by in the sunshine—the whine of tires on the pavement barely audible.

We chat for several minutes—Joanie wants to try Jessica’s hoop. She steps into it and easily sets it spinning around her slim waist—swiveling her hips and keeping it going for several minutes. Joanie grins at me from behind her sunglasses…

“See—I can still do it,” she says smiling sweetly.

The two women continue discussing “hooping’—its exercise and recreational benefits—for a few more minutes.

“I guess we missed it,” Jessica says to me, “or I got the date wrong.”

I take more careful notice of her appearance. I remembered she was slim with a great figure but what I’d forgotten was how tall and statuesque she is. This day she is wearing what appears to be a custom-made outfit that fits like a glove. She has on very low slung Capri-type pants that expose her flat, firm midriff with little skirts flaring at the knees that extend and emphasize her movements. The outfit is perfect of course for what she does so well and makes her look like a tall, slim adorable pixie. As we drove away later Joanie commented her costume had a sort of “Peter-Pan” look to it.

“Well—did you want to do the shoot another time?” Jessica says looking a bit uncertain, “or we could do it now—here—in the parking lot.”

By this time Joanie has pulled a folding lawn chair out of the trunk of her car and is sitting in the shade watching Jessica and me and enjoying the beautiful fall afternoon.

“Well,” I say feeling a bit awkward but trying to seem relaxed and professional, “You’re here, I’m here, I’ve got my camera, you’ve got your hoop—let’s do it if you’re agreeable.”

She says OK, says something about music and walks over to her Jeep. She stands the door open and starts a tape or CD playing an on-going patter of musical riffs and phrases with a heavy beat that is both mystical and mischievous.

I point to a spot in the empty expanse of parking lot where I can lay down and shoot up at Jessica with a background of trees. Every 5 minutes or so I move her to another place so I can get a variety of back grounds—by far the most successful are those shots where Jessica is backed by the rich blue sky and exuberant white clouds.

As the music throbs and the hoop spins, she twirls, turns, strikes a beautiful series of stylized poses—some reflecting a martial arts or Tai Chi influence. She flows beautifully through languid and beguiling dance moves—some of which seem rock or boogey inspired, there are suggestions of hula, belly-dancing and a number of techniques that are clearly ballet—Arabesques, Pirouettes, Chasse’ and Jete’.

I shoot 350 frames over a period of probably 20 minutes utilizing 3 or 4 backgrounds. It’s obvious she could go on all day but Joanie and I still have a few more errands to run and I’m sure Jessica has other things to do.

I thank her for her cooperation and beautiful performance and assure her she can use all images I release for any commercial or personal purposes. My hope is some of the pictures will be helpful to her in her career—in posters or brochures. She comments she has already used one image in some promotional material.

As we drive through Charlottesville traffic Joanie comments several times about what a nice girl and how talented Jessica is and chatters on excitedly about “hooping” as wonderful exercise for kids as well as older women. Jessica told Joanie about some You-Tube websites where there are videos demonstrating hooping moves, techniques and poses. She is particularly interested in getting her 11 year old granddaughter started.

At home later on in the evening I sit down at the computer to work up the day’s post and check my email. There’s a note from Jessica…

“–Oops – I was wrong!” she wrote, “it’s actually on the 18th. See you there if you feel like it!“

I reply immediately. I tell her I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

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2 Responses to “The Hula-Hoop Girl Twirls Again”

  1. Nelson Cheang Says:

    Hello, OT, my friend!
    It was a beautiful blue-sky early fall afternoon—big white puffy clouds against a deep blue firmament. The trees—a rich but fading green after the hot, dry summer—were rolling softly in a cool breeze.
    What a beautiful world! I like your artical…
    I have some good news for you. I just took one 1st place and four honorable mention in micro, fine art and wild life category at 2010 IPA.
    shareing my joyful with you …

  2. orion Says:

    Nelson my friend–I am delighted for you–you richly deserve those awards–you are one of the finest photographers I’ve ever had the honor of knowing. Congratulations and I know there will be more recognition coming your way soon. O.T.

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