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Gala K. Tubera

Hooperellas

Interview No. 69

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Where are you originally from?

Hawaii—I grew up on Maui.

What'd you move to Rochester? What made you want to stick around?

I came to Rochester in 2011 to do my undergrad at U of R. I stayed because it’s a really cool city! I didn’t get to explore it much as an undergrad—but I always enjoyed my summers here, so I decided to stay and give it a try once I was offered a job here. I had good friends and connections in Rochester, so I chose to make it my home base.

What is your favorite part of living in Rochester?

The people. Some people see Rochester as cliquey—there are so many communities and subcultures that people are a part of. These communities and subcultures can be both welcoming and hard to join at the same time. You just have to ask and get involved. Once you do, you’ll meet awesome people, and it opens up a whole new world! It’s important especially in the winter, when you really need good people to get you through it.

What’s the most interesting or unique event you’ve ever attended in Rochester?

Whirly Wednesday—it’s a community of local DJs and flow artists that get together each week. I’ve found that Rochester is a community made up of individual communities. When I found the Whirly community, I saw and heard things I’d never seen and heard before. It’s such an accepting environment at each event—and I’ve ended up meeting some of my best friends there.

Everyone involved with Whirly is connected via a Facebook group; each Whirly Wednesday location is decided on a weekly basis. In the summer, we’ll go to local parks, and in the winter we’re usually at the Flying Squirrel.

Describe your dream Rochester day.

It would probably start in the late morning with a latte from Starry Nites. From there, I’d do something outside—like hike a nature trail, or head down to the lake—even if it’s super cold out! Then I’d go home and cook up some veggies from the Public Market, preferably Brussels sprouts. Afterwards, I’d head to Lux for drinks and then swing by Bug Jar or Tilt to see a show.

What's your personal coping mechanism for cold/gray weather?

Friends—whether we’re getting together and having coffee and shopping or enjoying some local nightlife, it’s the meaningful, fun interpersonal relationships that get you through.

What is your favorite Rochester memory?

My first snowstorm out here. It was a pretty snow—endless, but not harsh. It stopped in the middle of the night and I walked to the MAG at 2am. With all the lights shining on University, it was so beautiful.

What makes Rochester unique?

Rochester is kind of a waystation—a bunch of people from a bunch of different places have ended up here, creating a life for themselves. It makes the city a melting pot of cultures and experiences, which I think is pretty cool.

What do you think could be improved?

There are good portions of the Rochester community that are kind of pushed aside, or not really given much thought. Like the other side of the Inner Loop—there’s a lot to offer, but people don’t talk about it or go there much. Once the Inner Loop is filled in and more traffic is come through, it’ll be one step closer to diversifying. We need to keep building communities across our communities rather than staying siloed.

If Rochester were an inanimate object, what would it be?

An apartment building—there’s a whole bunch of different lives being lived there, and they’re all connected, but at the same time, each existence is separate and unique.

So tell me a little bit about your group, the Hooperellas, and what they do.

We call ourselves a performance collective, because we love to collaborate with other artists and styles. We do primarily hoop performances, which are all part of the flow arts, where props are an extension of your body. We’ve done fire hooping (where the hoop is on fire) too, but only outside! There’s also a flow art called dragon staff, which entails performance with a staff that’s on fire.

Our performances are a mix of both choreographed and improvised work. Our group was established about six months ago, and we’ve done several shows around Rochester so far!

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What made you decide to start the Hooperellas?

It started out as an idea between me and two of my friends who are amazing hoopers and performers. We wanted to share what we’re doing with the Rochester community and make it really open to everyone.

What’s been the most fun part of being a part of the Hooperellas so far?

Expanding my own art form has been great—especially because I get to do it with people I care about. We had an Ugly Sweater Rave in December where we partnered with local DJs, light techs, and a venue and it was tons of fun, mainly because it was so many people coming together to do what they love to do.

Are there any challenges to running an organization like the Hooperellas in ROC?

Getting our name out there has been a big challenge, as has placing value on what you do. It’s not immediately clear to some people what the value added is—but it’s so much. When we’re hooping, we’re existing in a space as part of the atmosphere. No one expects hooping to be as mesmerizing as it is, mostly because they don’t have much experience with it!

Any advice for Rochesterians who want to start something new in our community?

Keep practicing, because there’s always more to learn. Be honest. And just keep going; keep trying.

Gala K. Tubera is a Financial Aid Counselor at U of R by day, and a fabulous Hooperella by night. Check out more of Gala's perspective on our Instagram. Support Whirly by attending their fundraiser at TILT!