by Fiona Killackey
A born performer, Marawa Ibrahim has been exciting audiences from Poland to Portugal since 2004 as a trapeze artist and hoola-hooper, who not only can keep a remarkable 50 hoops spinning but, as a "rubber-faced goof with impeccable timing," according to Hooping.org, brings a theatrical element to the stage as well.
With glowing reviews of her work surfacing across the globe, including a New York Times mention of her Josephine Baker send-up that compares her to Betty Boop, Ibrahimâ€™s popularity is gaining as much speed as the hoops around her waist. Raised in Melbourne (with a brief stint in Kuwait), the 27-year-old now calls both London and New York her homes when she's not on the road with her brand of neo-burlesque slapstick.
CH caught up with the dynamic artist to talk hoops, road food and Sonic Youth.
How would you define what you do?
I'm a professional hoola-hooper.
You've had some adventures in the last 12 months, which would be the best memory?
Oh, too many! I had a gig in Portugal this year, which was super crazy with The Broken Hearts (the two loveliest DJs in the world). We got there and went to the beach, followed by a restaurant where we ate a croissant with roast beef, cheese, mustard and banana. Then we did the show and I flew back on no sleep to do a double show in La Clique in London the next day. Not really an adventure, but it felt like one.
You have met some amazing people, including Spike Lee and Jean-Claude Baker (Josephine's adopted son). How do these encounters come about and who has been the most fun to hang out with?
Performing shows regularly means ending up in crazy places, meeting a lot of other artists and like-minded people, but I've also meet some really interesting people in airports and visa queues and late at night in fancy restaurants. I donâ€™t know anything about their music really, but [Sonic Youth drummer] Steve Shelley and I like to discuss food and music a lot. He knows lots of amazing things.
What does the next 24-hours hold for you?
I've just got back from the Dublin Fringe Festival, so I am hoping all my costumes are going to be dry enough so I can repack my bags for Poland, send a lot of emails, eat some nice lunch with my friend [and my costume designer] Alice at Cafe Evin (spinach pancakes yum!), have a nice look around Ridley Road Market because its been a while, get my nails done, then have dinner a lovely bunch of peeps at Viet Grill! After dinner, I have two gigs; the later one is the Girlcore Glitter Ball at the Bath House, which is going to be huge. Then it's off to Poland in the morning, hurrah!