'Tis the season of arts shows and gift fairs, but an event this weekend raises money for Lightning Boy Foundation, a nonprofit that teaches hoop dance to Native kids and assists dancers with equipment, costumes and transportation to dance events and competitions. Winter blizzard coming with bolts of lightning in tow? No problem. That's a reminder of Valentino Rivera, the late son of former Pojoaque Pueblo Gov. George Rivera and Felicia Rosacker-Rivera—a kid who loved to dance and who died in 2016 following brain and spinal injuries from a car crash at the age of 8. Together with their friends and champion dancers Steve and Nakotah LaRance, the Riveras established the nonprofit to promote dance for youth and to honor their son. A fundraising weekend includes a public art show from noon to 8 pm Friday Nov. 29 and from 9 am to 5 pm Saturday Nov. 30 at La Fonda on the Plaza (100 E San Francisco St., 982-5511). SFR caught up with Felicia in her last-minute preparations.
What is it about hoop dance that is so attractive to children, and what do they get out of it?
I think it's challenging and I think it's a good way to be able to express who they are and their culture through dance because they can do all the formations. It's not just their body making the motions, they can also make formation with the hoops.
Are programs just for Native kids?
The hoop dance portion is just for Native American kids and the biggest reason is it's traditionally a Native American ceremonial dance, so it varies from tribe to tribe of how they interpret that, but for the World Hoop Dance Championship, you have to be enrolled in a tribe to compete. A lot of them want to get there. That's one of the goals. They really like performing around New Mexico as well.
Is hoop dance experiencing a resurgence or are people in Santa Fe just lucky to see so much of it?
I think it's definitely in a resurgence here in Northern New Mexico and that resurgence has started with the LaRance family moving back to New Mexico and the initial hoop dance group that we started out at the pueblo, and then branching out into a hoop dance group that accepts students from any pueblo or tribe. I don't know that there were very many Native American hoop dancers at the competition from New Mexico or the pueblos until the LaRances came back and started teaching. It's the 30th year for the World Hoop Dance Championships. It was always there, but they have commented too at the Heard Museum in Phoenix that they are getting a huge amount of participation compared to the previous years.