Students in rehearsal for the Hawaii Club's annual Luau. Photo by Joanne Sally Mero.

Luau Dances Require Weeks of Rehearsals

Preparation for the Hawaii Club’s annual luau, one of the largest events of the school year, often begins as early as the first week of February. This year, current seniors are determined to make this performance the best of their college careers. Likewise, returning members are just as motivated to send seniors off with a luau to remember.

As a first-year student last year, Kayla Valdez ’21 choreographed the women’s Hula Auana. She enjoyed herself so much, she returned this year to teach two dances.

“Sharing the Hawaiian culture is definitely a joy for  me,” Valdez said. “I get to share the beauty of hula and it reminds me how much I love to call Hawaii my home.”

Valdez is also teaching a different women’s dance, called Hula Kahiko, which was suggested by Kassie Kometani ’19.

“Hula Kahiko is the traditional style … patterned after ancient hula,” Valdez said. “It is considered to be a sacred dance that connects to the history of ancient Hawaii.”

Kometani has choreographed and participated in luau throughout her college career. This year, she is teaching three different songs and participating in five overall.

“The theme this year is lava, which is one of the elements of the Hawaiian goddess Pele,” Kometani said.

“Many traditional kahiko dances are dedicated to Pele, so I wanted to perform a new type of dance that incorporates our theme.”

Jayana Alvarez ’19 is serving as the co-choreographer of this year’s Tahitian dance. Having participated in the luau in previous years, Alvarez wanted to try her hand at teaching for the first time.  

“The Tahitian dance requires confidence,” Alvarez said. While the moves are tricky to learn at first, Alvarez’s goal is to encourage the dancers to truly gain a sense of that confidence. “If we can give that to anybody, I think that’s great.”

Overall, the audience can be ready to experience new aspects of Polynesian culture through a mix of traditional and modern dances.

“We get to witness the months of practice and planning come together for such a beautiful event,” Kometani said. “It has been really special to be a part of this for four years and to represent a piece of Hawaii on campus.”

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