On a warm but windy September evening, Montgomery performer Nula Irwin and a small socially-distanced audience of her students, fans and followers set out up Town Hill, Montgomery for a unique sunset hula hoop show.
The show by Nula Hula, which took place on the summit of the hill next to the County Memorial and toposcope, featured LED hoops which lit up after the sun had set behind the hills, street show style audience interaction (from a distance), and lots of tricks which were made much, much more challenging by the strength of the wind up on the hill that evening! Nula began the show by singing happy birthday to a boy of 7 who couldn't be sung to at school because of covid regulations. She then had the audience participating and laughing throughout.
She said, “It was great to see some of the children that I have taught in Montgomery. It’s been such a long hard year with not much live interaction. I think it’s something the children especially will remember for a long time and it will stick out as one of the highlights of the year during this pandemic.”
Nula had been inspired to put on the “pay as you like” informal show after having attempted a personal challenge to balance spinning 6 hoops on top of the hill over the summer. An amazed impromptu audience of walkers had enjoyed this surprise spectacle, and there was an enthusiastic response on social media to Nula’s photos of the trick. She was then further inspired by a BBC news report of Charlotte Mellor hooping on the fells of the Lake District. Having had only one performing tour in 2020, whereas previous years have seen up to 5 gigs in a single summer weekend, Nula had realised just how much she loved and missed performing with her hulas and couldn’t let the summer go by without a single show.
Nula said, “This was such a special performance and honestly the highlight of my summer. We had a beautiful sunset but it was the windiest weather I’ve ever had for hula hooping! This made the tricks ridiculously hard, but the show must go on, and the atmosphere and setting were amazing!” She added, “Thank you so much to the children and adults who attended making it an evening to remember during these uncertain times!”
The appreciative audience thanked Nula for the show they had enjoyed and threw money into her busking hat, which was much appreciated with so much work having been lost this year. Nula is keen to encourage everyone to support the arts wherever they can.
Like many in the performing arts, Nula was devastated earlier in the year to find gigs and events being cancelled one by one and the events industry falling apart fast. She explained, “I didn’t cope very well and felt lost. It wasn’t really a job, it was a lifestyle. I was lucky that I got a small pay out from Equity Charitable Trust. I went out and found a job using my transferable skills to help vulnerable people as an activities coordinator. I’m very lucky to have found a great job in the pandemic which keeps me going, positive and focused.”
When thinking to the future, Nula doesn’t have much hope that her industry will return to what it was. But she does have gigs on the calendar which have been postponed until 2021 and never wants to stop performing. She concludes, “Performing is part of who I am. I’m happy in my job right now, which gives me security and somewhere I can still be creative. Maybe I’ll do more busking in my free time. It really is uncertain times right now, so I couldn’t really say what the future holds for me or the performing and events industry.”
Text: Claire Weston
Photo: Jenny Brignell