Dancers show their moves in Hood Hop


HAGERSTOWN - Hood Hop, a seven-week dancing project designed to bring free lessons to underprivileged youths in Hagerstown, held its annual dance competition Saturday at Doub's Woods Park.

"This is our third year having this event," event director Anna Shetler said. "About 60 to 70 kids are involved in it this year."

Children between the ages of 4 and 15 arrived at the park energized and ready to dance.

"Yes, I'm excited to dance today," 8-year-old Elishah Tyson said. "I met a lot of people here and I love to dance."

Ivy Long, 10, of the Northaven neighborhood team, remained positive, although she was the only member from her team to show up.


"I still think I'm going to do good," Ivy said. "At least I tried to get here and stuff."

Throughout the seven-week program, children practiced with their respective neighborhoods for an hour once per week in preparation for the dance competition. Within that hour, they learned a variety of dances including hip-hop, break dancing, Caribbean and street dances.

Other neighborhoods that participated in this year's program were Noland Village, Pangborn Park, Fairgrounds and West End.

Tyler Chaney, 10, a dancer from Noland Village, spoke highly of the Hood Hop program.

"I learned a lot about different steps and how you can move in different ways," Chaney said. "We practiced really hard, so usually you get what you worked for."

This is the first year the Hood Hop project has received funding from the Maryland State Arts Council and Washington County Arts Council.

This project "is different and something new," said Kevin Moriarty, executive director of the Washington County Arts Council. "We have a competitive funding process, and we provide project funding based on three guiding principles - artistic merit, organization effectiveness and the impact on the community. This program scored high on all three points."

Their high score prompted the project to be funded at the maximum level.

In prior years, the organization had participants in the program wear uniform colors, but because of their recent funding, the youths were able to receive Hood Hop T-shirts.

"They look more like a dance team when they're competing on stage," Shetler said.

The Fairgrounds neighborhood won Saturday's dance competition.

Jada McLaurin was proud of her two children, who were a part of the winning team.

"They did well, but they weren't as energetic as they were last year," McLaurin said.

Shetler said she believed that the youths did a good job.

"Overall, I think it went very well," Shetler said. "I'm very proud of the kids. They worked hard."

Hood Hop winners

· First place - Fairgrounds

· Second place - Northaven

· Third place - Pangborn Park

· Fourth place - Noland Village

· Fifth place - West End

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