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Rebecca Halls is a Canadian choreographer, yoga teacher and professional hula hoop artist based in LA. She combines her curiosity, creativity, and passion to create avant-garde performance pieces and inspires people to love dance, yoga, and hula hooping as much as she does.
Rebecca received her BFA in contemporary dance at Concordia University in 2009 and she is a certified GYROTONIC instructor. GYROTONIC is a form of exercise that involves spiraling, curling, and waving the body. It was created by Juliu Horvath, an ex-ballet dancer who moved to an island to practice yoga and rehabilitate his injuries. After returning to New York, Juliu’s peers didn’t recognize him.”You look incredible,” they’d exclaim. “What have you been doing?” So he started training other dancers in his newly invented “art of exercise” to get them into peak performance form and to also help them to recover from their injuries.
Rebecca studied GYROTONIC with Dana Gingras, a choreographer and dancer based out of Montreal. “I just loved it,” Rebecca says of her sessions with Dana. “She had mastered a life balancing art with movement and exercise, and that’s what I really admired about what she did, and it inspired me to follow that path.”
While GYROTONIC was created with dancers in mind, anyone can benefit from it. “The first few sessions are spent learning the exercises, and the work is very deep. It can be a lot of new information to take in at first,” Rebecca explains. “But as you go deeper into the work, the more you will make deeper connections in your body, and especially to your center.” GYROTONIC sessions normally last about an hour, but even after the hour is up, the exercise continues to work. “For example, when you’re getting out of your car or standing up from your desk, you’re connecting those deep muscles,” Rebecca says. “It is comparable to pilates, where it continues to work and help not only when you’re working out, but in the rest of your everyday life as well.”
But while there are similarities between GYROTONIC and pilates, there are also many differences. Both exercises use an apparatus or machine, but pilates is works with linear movement patterns, while Gyrotonic is more about expanding and spiraling to create space in the body, balancing strength with flexibility.
In addition to Gyrotonic, Rebecca also teaches yoga. Growing up, Rebecca’s mom, who is also a yoga teacher, encouraged her to try yoga. “I didn’t want to,” Rebecca reminisces. “I always considered myself a dancer and had no interest in yoga.'” Many years later, Rebecca was traveling in Southeast Asia, and decided she was finally ready to try yoga. She began studying privately with a teacher. Upon returning to Canada, she told her mom about her experience and readiness to start practicing yoga. “She gave me Mr. Iyengar’s (BKS Iyengar) book Light On Yoga. I read it cover to cover, studied it, and started practicing yoga on my own.”
Yoga has helped Rebecca in many ways. “I’m a very excitable person,” she explains. “I get really passionate sometimes and yoga helps me to be calm and basically to feel good. Not only in my body, but in my mind also.”
A big part of yoga for Rebecca is not only the exercises themselves, but also the music that accompanies them. Rebecca’s favorite artists to play during her classes are Little Dragon, Grimes and Loscil. “I love Loscil,” she says. “He’s very ambient and atmospheric, and helps me get into
a meditative state.”. Rebecca carefully selects music that will make the entire experience more enjoyable for her students. “I think an important thing about yoga, is getting to know your soul; tuning into that soul level – like Loscil,” Rebecca explains. “I’ve been playing his music in my classes since I started teaching yoga in 2008. His music has been a staple in my class. It has these frequencies and vibrations that help to bring me to a soul level where I can just feel my existence, right from the inside of my body.” Rebecca tries to share that experience with her students in all her classes.
In January, Rebecca teamed with Juice Served Here and The Sweat Spot in Silver Lake to create a program that creatively combines three of her favorite things; yoga, juice, and Gyrotonic. Rebecca is a huge fan of Juice Served Here because they do a great job of making healthy changes accessible and convenient. They offer fruits and vegetables on-the-go, in glass bottles, so people are getting the nutrients they need while also protecting the environment. The juice is a great complement to the other components of the program, yoga and Gyrotonic, which are two of Rebecca’s most favorite things in the world. “As a dancer, when I was performing full-time, I spent a lot of time injured and I couldn’t always train the way I wanted to,” Rebecca explains. “So I learned to train for peak performance without over-exhausting my body. And that’s where yoga and Gyro come together for me because yoga is about getting into the pose, and then exploring my breath and moving deeper into the pose. Movement patterns include folding, standing up and balancing. GYROTONIC is the art of movement. It is all spiraling, expanding one’s body three dimensionally. When you put these two things together, GYROTONIC becomes the cross-training for yoga.” Yoga, Juice, and Gyrotonic lasted for 3 weeks, from January 12-28. It involved six yoga classes at The Sweat Spot, a free juice from Juice Served Here, a discount on a juice cleanse, and three private GYROTONIC sessions at Rebecca’s own studio Disco Gym. She hopes to do the program again in the near future.
Rebecca is currently busy getting ready for Hoopurbia, a week-long hula hooping festival, which will take place in Los Angeles from March 14-20. Previously, she’s done the festival in Berlin and Prague, and it was extremely fun and successful. It’s a festival where people come together to train in hula hooping, yoga, and dance from 10am-5pm daily for a full week. The program is rigorous, but also fun. Monday-Friday there are workshops which will take place at Echo Park Rec. The workshops are taught by seven incredible teachers which Rebecca handpicked for the avant-garde and innovative projects they’re doing for the world of hula hooping, dance, and art. In addition to the workshops, participants also rehearse throughout the week for a huge choreographed LED hooping flash mob, which will take place Friday, March 18 throughout Los Angeles. On Saturday, March 19, the instructors will perform at NITEWORK at The Sweatspot in Silverlake. At midnight there will be MAGIC HOUR a special hula hooping competition. The week-long festival is a fun and innovative way to either learn the basics of hula hooping or to perfect your practice. Whether you have no idea how to hula hoop or you’re a professional hula hooper looking to brush on your skills, Hoopurbia is the perfect place to be. Not only will participants have fun and learn, but it can also create incredible opportunities.
For more information on Rebecca and to sign up for Hoopurbia, yoga, or GYROTONIC , please visit her website .