Elliecopter Pilott teaches hula hoop at Nofit State Circus, Elliecoptor Hoops and various festivals. She is co-founder of the Welsh Hoop Convention and Sparkle's Hoop Troupe.

Can you tell us what you do?

I work full time as a patent and trade mark secretary, but freelance as a hula hoop teacher and facilitator. I co-run the Welsh Hoop Convention, Sparkles Hoop Troupe and Mary Bijou Cabaret & Social Club. I also create social media content for various small companies including the wonderful Penylan Pantry.

Why have you chosen to work in Cardiff?

I moved to Cardiff after going to University at Aberystwyth. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I graduated, I couldn’t afford to move to London and I didn’t want to move back to Devon. I knew a few friends who moved here and they loved it, so I decided to join them. I ended up in my day job accidentally but have been with the company for 14 years now. I met my husband in Cardiff when he worked for Nofit State Circus, which was where I learnt to hula hoop. Through Nofit I met lots of creative and inspiring people who were making great work and events in the city, so I started to get involved. I began curating my own creative events and encouraged people to learn to hula hoop.

What inspires you about being here?

Cardiff is such a great place to be able to run events. It is small enough that word gets around quickly and, because it’s such a small city, you also get to meet so many different people. I’m constantly meeting new and inspiring people. I also think Cardiff’s community is really supportive, so you feel like you can try out a new idea or run an event and people will give you advice and help you out because they want you to succeed.

What challenges have you found in working in Cardiff?

Finding suitable venues which are affordable to run circus cabarets and classes.

How successful do you think Cardiff has been at making itself a creative capital, particularly in your area of work?

I think Cardiff is very successful in the circus side of things. We have the UK’s leading large-scale contemporary circus company (Nofit State) based here so it has always felt like a very exciting place to be in terms of circus. They have been hugely successful since they set themselves up in 1986 and have gone on to create shows which have toured all over the world. Plus they have a great timetable of community circus classes. There’s also all the really exciting companies that have evolved from Nofit State - including Mary Bijou Cabaret & Social Club, Ali Williams Productions, Crashmat Collective, Splatch, Up Side Down Circus and Scratch This (to name just a few). If it wasn’t for Nofit State I don’t think the local community would have been inspired to create their own work or events.

In your opinion, which three things need to happen to make Cardiff a more creative city?

 We need another creative Hub like the Abacus. It was such an amazing space where you could have your own studio, go to an event or run a class. It was such a brilliant, artistic community hub. Plus it was affordable. You could just walk past it and walk in and engage in whatever was happening there at the time. It was for everyone and I really miss it!

What do you think Creative Cardiff should try to achieve?

It would be great if creative companies could access free advice, studios or workshops about practical things like tax, protecting your Intellectual Property, and how to market your events.

Describe your favourite creative place to work in Cardiff.

At the moment it is a new venue called Up Side Down Circus which has opened up in Tremorfa. The space is brilliant for hula hooping in - I have used it for training and as a rehearsal space for the troupe’s upcoming gigs. It’s a large warehouse, which really suits circus as there is lots of space to move around. It is also affordable to rent for rehearsals and Tammi and Chris, who run it, are very accommodating!

Can you pick one creative person in Cardiff who we should go and find out more about?

Not really! There are so many! Jodie Davies is one. She runs some amazing companies like the Bone Yard Cardiff which has some fantastic community events like markets, hen parties, workshops etc. She manages to bring the creative community together and has some amazing ideas, like her glitter caravan which she runs with Rachel Helena Walsh. Rachel also runs the wonderful Made in Roath Festival which manages to involve professional artists and community members alike. I love creative people that build a community that anyone can join and feel welcome being a part of. There’s also Heather Arnold who works for creative agency burningred, is a performer in Sparkles Hoop Troupe and hosts a girl-positive radio show. She’s also an amazing writer and has helped write great press releases for some of my creative projects!

What’s next for you? What projects are on the horizon? What new ideas are you working on?

I’m currently working on the digital Christmas card for Sparkles Hoop Troupe which we are filming in conjunction with an amazing student from the Atrium. I’m also working with Likely Story to help promote their fabulous children’s show which is happening in Chapter on 22 and 23 December. Also I’m in the process of finalizing plans for the Welsh Hoop Convention which will happen on Easter Saturday 2018. We have international hula hoop teachers joining us and, this year, we are running it alongside a circus festival run by Up Side Down Circus.

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