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Issue 4October 3, 2003Linfield College

Hoop dancer leaves crowd spinning

Bo Lockhart

Kevin Locke performs one of his dance moes with hoops. He made symbolic shapes using only the small rings seen here

Remember playing with the pink hula hoop when you were little? You'd practice trying to keep it circling around your waist, and then your older sisters would come out and make fun of you for playing with girl's toys. Good times. For those students who watched Kevin Locke's performance on Tuesday evening in Melrose Auditorium, some may recall similar events as he danced upon the stage with arms and legs covered in traditional Lakota hoops. Others may have simply enjoyed the performance.

Locke, a Lakota and Anishin Native American and resident of Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, has been traveling North America, South America and Europe sharing his unique Native American heritage at art centers, festivals, schools, universities, conferences, state and national parks, monuments and historical sites.

His show began with a compilation of songs performed with a variety of indigenous flutes. Locke added traditional Native American stories between songs to both inform and en-tertain the audience. The performance was sponsored by Residence Life and the Baha'i Faith community of Mc-Minnville.

Locke's message throughout his performance concen-trated on the uniting of human kind. "All of the people have the same impulses, spirit and goals," Locke said, "I want to create a positive awareness of the oneness of humanity." One way he believes will help is through the universal adoption of interactive native sign language.

"It's a way everyone around the world can communicate with one another," Locke said. He showed how easy sign language could be to learn when he told a short story using the signs and then quizzed the audience, which apparently passed. His greatest and most entertaining display then began with the Hoop Dance. While carrying up to 28 hoops at one time, he danced to traditional tribal music making a variety of symbolic shapes. The hoops, either red, black, white or yellow to symbolically represent the different seasons or races, were thrown and chained, twisted and manipulated around every limb to tell a visual story of the Native American way of life.

"It was entertaining," senior Monica Schwing said. "The experience was definitely unique." After the performance, Locke held a brief Hoop Dance tutorial where he invited 12 audience members to participate on stage.

Kevin Locke is acknowledged for his performances and teachings. In 1990, he was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts. Locke has also been a cultural ambassador for the United States Information Service since 1980 and has served as a delegate during the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil as well as a performer and speaker at the 1996 United Nations Habitat II Conference in Turkey. Linfield was fortunate on Tuesday to host this remarkable performer, teacher, storyteller and role model.

©Copyright 2003, The Review, Linfield College (OR, USA)

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