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Hoop Dancing

Hoop dancing is an Indigenous North American storytelling dance that incorporates the use of numerous hoops. It is usually performed as a solo dance and features quick, dynamic movements. Hoop dancing has a great deal of symbolism. Dancers usually begin with one hoop, which symbolizes the circle of life, and add additional hoops as the dance progress to represent new elements of the story, such as seasons, wind, animals, and other beings. The hoops are made of reeds or wood, and often feature have four marks that symbolize the four seasons.

Is this activity known by any other names?


What are the origins of the activity abroad and in Canada?

Hoop dancing originates from North American Indigenous groups. Its exact origins are unclear, as many different stories and oral traditions tell of its development, however it has been practiced for many hundreds of years.

Who takes part?

The dance is performed by Indigenous Canadians. Although originally a male-only dance form, the inclusion of women has increased in recent years.

When does it occur / How often do you take part?

Hoop dancing was traditionally performed for healing ceremonies within Indigenous communities. Today, it is performed at powwows, cultural festivals and celebrations, historical and educational sites, entertainment venues, and competitions throughout the year.

Are there any organized clubs, groups, organizations or leagues?

Kawa:wi Dance Theater

Cultural Significance

Hoop dancing is a significant Indigenous physical cultural practice. This form of dance is used to tell stories and share worldviews, and was historically believed to be a part of a healing ceremony used to restore balance and harmony to the world. The hoops and costumes carry various cultural meanings.

Is there anything else we should know?



  • Kawa:wi Dance Theater
    15 Case Goods Lane
    Toronto, ON M5A 3C4
  • Fort York Historic Site
    250 Fort York Blvd.
    Toronto, ON M5V 3K9
  • Harbourfront Centre
    235 Queens Quay
    Toronto, ON M5J 2G8
  • Toronto Centre for the Arts
    5040 Yonge St
    North York, ON M2N 6R8
  • Mississauga Living Arts Centre
    4141 Living Arts Dr
    Mississauga, ON L5B 4B8

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