Every winter, the Heard Museum hosts the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest. Accompanied by a group of musicians, dancers use their hoops to create symbols of eagles, baskets, flowers, insects, and much more in beat to the music.
The two-day event has numerous participants compete in five age divisions, ranging from those under five to those over 40 years old. The dancers are judged on their precision, rhythm, speed, showmanship, and creativity.
The event is a blend of athleticism and artistic talent. But it’s much more than an entertaining affair. It honors cultural traditions from various American Indian and Canadian First Nation tribes who use hoop dancing as part of their healing ceremonies. Dancers use up to 50 hoops to create a series of mesmerizing movements.
While at the competition, visitors may also explore the museum and try indigenous dishes from vendors or the museum’s restaurant.
Know Before You Go
The competition takes place every February. See the Heard Museum's website for the dates and times of future events. Dances are performed in the amphitheater. Either arrive early or bring a folding chair, because views can be obstructed. If you are unable to make it in person, the Heard Museum live streams the competition via Facebook.
Free parking is available in a nearby lot. Don't forget the sunscreen or water; there is no shade and the Arizona sun can be harsh.