An Evening with Kevin Locke

By Derek Dahlen

On February 13, 1998, world-renowned Native American flutist and hoop dancer Kevin Locke performed in the Mendocino College Theater. Earlier that week Locke performed at numerous Ukiah area elementary schools, telling stories, playing his beautiful music, and performing his famous hoopdances. Locke opened the Mendocino College performance with a prayer and music that quickly moved into humorous oratory. Locke unexpectedly told jokes about stereotypical American Indians and the way they have adapted to the predominant society.
Locke proceeded to teach the audience some Native American sign language, which was quite fascinating. Next, Locke dedicated a song to all the eagles in the crowd- "all the red, black, brown, white, and bald eagles in the crowd." His next song was a love song played on a large didjeridoo sized flute that heavily resonated throughout the theater. After playing this song, he sang it and explained its meaning to all of us who didn't understand the Lakota language, Locke's native tongue. He then played a Kiowa love song, reminding the audience that the seventh direction is within us (North, South, East, West, Skyward, Earthbound, and the Heart).
After the intermission, Locke sang a children's song. Then he played a song about a prairie chicken on one of his many flutes from all over the world. This song turned out to be a sing-a-long once Locke taught the audience the words that went with the music. Locke went on to explain a common American disease that he called Boxitis, where people are constantly living within, around, and with squares. He said that the cure to Boxitis is to think of the hoop of life that we are all a part of; this led to Locke's hoopdancing. At one point in his dance he had 28 hoops spinning or attached to his body in some way while he danced around in circles. It was very impressive. Locke then invited audience members to try their skills at hoopdancing, which was quite entertaining. After a wonderful evening of music and dance, Locke ended with a final prayer recited in Lakota and a hand signing of Psalm 23 out of the Bible.

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