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Hoopla Happening for World Hoop Day
By Joe Durwin, Pittsfield Correspondent
06:03PM / Tuesday, December 11, 2012
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World Hoop Day will be celebrated locally at the Berkshire Mall, where anyone can learn how to make a hoop or try 'hooping.'

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — A hoopla of sorts will ensue in the Berkshire Mall's food court Wednesday night as local hoop enthusiasts join the 8-year-old international phenomenon of World Hoop Day.  

"I'm always looking for ways of tricking people into moving their bodies," said dance artist Stefanie Weber, who organized the local event. "Because it seems like that's what you kind of have to do.  Hooping has been a really great way to do that."

Weber is a "World Hoop Ambassador," and has received grant funding through the national World Hoop Day nonprofit to bring hoops to Kenya for a second year in a row later this month, as part of a dance outreach effort called They Dance for Rain.  

"In my sort of humble efforts to represent hooping in a whole other country, I thought it would be nice to have something here also, to kind of celebrate the day," she said.

Weber said the interest in hooping she's encountered here spans a wide age range.

"For an older generation, there are these memories of being a child, and things being fun, and life being light in the '50s and the '60s," said Weber, "And then there's a whole new generation of hoopers that are serious athletes and artists, and have really created a new contemporary dance form from it."

Weber previously had organized the Pittsfield City Hoopla events, held in the summer from 2009-2011, but said for various reasons it was not feasible to hold this year. The mall event for World Hoop Day, which has events this year in more than 60 countries, she said offered an opportunity to celebrate the art in a more organic way in a place that tends to be crowded during this time of the season.

"We'll just have some people hooping, and see what happens," said Webber, who will also have materials on hand to be able to demonstrate how to make a hoop. Hoops made by participants will travel with her to Nairobi, Kenya, for distribution next week.

"There's always people that are a little shy, don't necessarily want to hoop but maybe want to hang out and be involved, or are kind of crafty and want to learn how to do it."

World Hoop Day began on 5/5/05, and has shifted a month and a day each year to stay with the theme.  Weber said she's not sure how the organization will proceed with scheduling in future years, now that the celebration has reached 12/12/12.

The event is free and open to all ages, and will be held at the mall food court from 6 to 9 p.m.  

Weber said she is bringing along local photographer Monica Pizzichemi to document her upcoming dance ambassadorship, and the two will be looking for local venues for presenting the results of the trip when she returns in order to continue the circle of intercultural sharing about dance.

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