“This celebration of our culture is a good way to bring us back to our ancestry and who we are as people” explained Jherica Raposa, a member of the Ho’opa’a Hawai’i Club and dancer in the 22nd annual Lūʻau & Hōʻike. With a sold out show, a celebration of Hawaiian culture rang throughout the Music Recital Hall at SOU on Apr. 22 as audience members watched a lively showcase of traditional and modern Hula.
Participants in the show were in agreement that the performance was a success. At the end of the show, Souza stated, “I love sharing my culture, I love being Hawaiian.” While the Lūʻau & Hōʻike has ended, returning members of the Hawai’i club are already looking forward to next year’s performance.
The Hawai’i club produced sixteen dances each with an intricate backstory. Master of Ceremonies Darius Kila and Kekaha Souza educated the audience before each dance on the significance of each piece. There were multiple times during the performance that Kila and Souza invited audience members to come on stage and learn aspects of the Hula. As they came up, however, Kila cautioned, “Heed where you learn Hula from. It’s a very sacred thing.”
The dances were choreographed by members of the Hawai’i Club. The more lively pieces such as the Hana Hou and the Ote’a Tekou received a huge reaction from the audience. Members of the audience joined in on the cheering and chanting happening within the dances. During the He u’i*, Kila’s grandmother joined in. “It was a hula I taught that I learned from our hālau which my grandma and mom are from which is why she danced,” said the MC. “It is one of her favorite hulas to dance.”
Before the intermission, the graduating seniors of Hawai’i Club were honored in front of the audience and had the chance to perform their final Hula, Waikoloa. It was an extremely emotional moment for the seniors as well as the members of the Hawai’i Club who will return next year. Raposa explained, All the seniors are really welcoming and nice so it’s really sad that they have to leave, but I know that they’ll be around if we need them.”
Audience member Celina Ramirez exclaimed, “It was just so beautiful. I felt like crying. A lot of my friends were up there, and I felt so proud of them.”
Lūʻau Chair, Abigail Awai, furthered explained her connection to vulture through dance in particular. “It is important to always celebrate and perpetuate my culture. For many years in Hawaiʻi it was illegal to speak in Hawaiian and to dance Hula,” she said. “It is truly a blessing that I have the opportunity to bring back this part of my culture.”
To end the show, the performers invited the audience to sing along with them while they performed Hawai’i Aloha. It was an extremely somber moment amidst the high energy dances, and it encapsulated the spirit of the Lūʻau. In the end, Awai claimed, “This was an experience we all worked very hard to make it a great one. I am happy to say that it was another successful year. I believe I made my ancestors proud.”
*Editor’s note: and earlier version of this piece cited the wrong dance and has since been revised.