News: Lovely hula hands: Hula lessons offered at Kulia Youth Center
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - Young ladies laughed and danced with their po’o kumu (head teacher in Hawaiian) to “Uwehe, Ami and Slide,” by Teresa Bright, in the gym of Kulia Youth Center, March 4, 2014.
Children, Youth and Teen Programs members are eligible for hula lessons aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii at the Kulia Youth Center in building 6753. Hula classes are conducted Tuesdays from 3 to 4 p.m. for ages 5 to 10 and 4 to 5 p.m. for ages 11 to 17.
Aulii Aweau, of Kaaawa, Hawaii, started teaching hula at MCB Hawaii last fall. Aweau, who has danced hula since the age of 5, said “hula is more than a dance; it’s a lifestyle.”
“It’s really an honor to be with these youngsters,” Aweau said. “(Not all may become) hula dancers, (but through hula they can) keep moving so they can keep in shape all throughout their life.”
The lessons are for beginners, with students learning basic hula steps. Those attending hula lessons don’t need to bring any materials other than a bottle of water if they’d prefer it. As students practice hand and feet motions, Aweau explains the meaning of the song and each motion.
“She loves it,” said Jessica Caputo, of her daughter’s experience taking hula lessons. “She’s learning the language, what the moves mean in hula. Overall, it’s a great cultural experience.”
In addition to dance lessons, the students learn more in-depth topics of the Hawaiian culture, from Hawaiian history to plant-life, storytelling and chanting. Tuesday’s class began with a Hawaiian oli, or chant, called “E ho mai” by Edith Kanakaole.
Eventually, the students will give a performance, or ho ike, for family and friends, to showcase what they’ve learned in class. So far, all of Aweau’s students are in the 5 to 10-year-old age range, and parents have been inquiring about adult classes. Rejeana Williams said her 2-year-old daughter even stands on a stool at home and copies her sister, Dallas, who is currently enrolled in hula lessons.
“The parents have been really supportive and really interested,” Aweau said.
Chela Benavides is currently enrolled in hula lessons. She was interested in dancing hula before her family moved to Hawaii. Although Benavides, 5, has fun dancing hula, she eventually wants to be a ballerina and become involved in gymnastics. She particularly enjoys dancing to the song “Uwehe, Ami and Slide,” during class.
“As soon as she found out we were going to Hawaii she said ‘I want to learn hula!’” said Benavides’ mother, Tamara. “She would practice before we even got here.”
Although many of her students will eventually leave due to a permanent change of station, Aweau said she wants to “instill the love of Hawaii,” which they can take to their next home. Those who end up staying, she said, “can get grounded, rooted here and learn about this rich culture we’re all blessed to be a part of.”
For more information about hula classes, call Resource & Referral at 257-7430 or visit the website at www.mccshawaii.com.