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Making Hoops For The Hoop Dance

Hoop Dancer at Memorial Day Powwow.

Learn to make inexpensive hoops that stand out

This article was originally published in Spring of 1988 in Whispering Wind Magazine by Art Tate.

The hoop dance is one of those special dances which enlivens any program or powwow. I have also found that it is a superb way to teach advanced Indian dancing to young people. Finding hoops can sometimes be a problem; and buying them can be expensive if you can find a source. This article will explain a simple, inexpensive and effective way to make hoops. And, of all the various hoops I have found, these are the most satisfactory for dancing.

MaterialsStep one of making hoops for the hoop dance.

You want to buy a quantity of plastic underground water pipe. It is usually black and will come in rolls of about 50 feet or more. Ask for plastic pipe with an outside diameter of 3/4 inch. Sometimes pipe is sold by the inside diameter, so be sure that your plastic pipe has a 3/4 inch outside diameter. If you get 50 feet of plastic water pipe, you will be able to make about 8 or 9 normal sized hoops. You will need to buy a dowel or two. The diameter of the dowel should just about match the inside diameter of the pipe. And lastly, you will need a few small nails no longer than the diameter of the water pipe.


Step two of making hoops for the hoop dance.


Step 1: Cut off enough pipe to make a hoop with a diameter of about 22 inches. This size hoop is about right for the normal teenager. Larger and smaller dancers may need different size hoops. It is suggested that you make one hoop with a 22 inch diameter and try it out before finishing the rest.


Step 2: Cut a two inch piece of dowel.


Step 3: Curve the pipe into a circle (this will be easy since it comes rolled up) and place the piece of dowel inside the diameter of the pipe.

Steps three and four of making hoops for the hoop dance.


Step 4: Hammer two small nails in each side of the hoop to secure the plastic pipe to the dowel. Make sure the nails are flush with the plastic and do not stick up.


Step 5: Wrap white plastic tape around the hoops, barber pole style. It will really make them stand out when you do the hoop dance. I would not go to this expense with practice hoops.


One caution – for those among you who do the flaming hoop dance – don’t use this plastic pipe for that stunt! Step five of making hoops for the hoop dance.

Have a good time!

This article was written by Art Tate


The Heard Museum has a Hoop Dance Contest Every Year and has some great videos of amazing dancers. See the dance here.

Hoop dancers may wear bells, deer hooves or toe rattles, sheep hides and breechcloths. We offer many of these items ready to wear.

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