By Kayla Lum Kee (’16) | Junior Staff Writer
Hula is very important to Hawaii, having been a part of Hawaiian culture since the ancient times when Hawaii still had its monarchy.
After the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown, the Hawaiians had nothing left but their traditions and customs. They felt that their monarchy could be taken away, but not their hula. Hula is danced at Hawaii Baptist Academy and the hula hālau is called Hālau Hula ‘o Ka lama ‘Ula, which translates to The Eternal Torch. Choir teacher and director Todd Yokotake started the group in 2001 as a monthly club for students to learn hula.
Yokotake explained, “I had a sign language group that would be in tandem with the Soldiers Of Light [choir] but when that teacher left, there was kind of a gap that particular year. There were five girls who were interested in starting a hālau, and they danced for all the top kumu hulas like Kauʻi Kamanao, Aloha Dalire, and Mapuana. [From] there it just kind of perpetuated itself to where it is today.”
“There’s no pressure to dance for God. We just go and do it.”
Junior Chelsie Arume
Currently, the tryouts to get into the hālau consists of learning a song off of a DVD and performing it in front of Yokotake and senior hālau girls. According to Yokotake, it helps if students know how to dance before they try out. He said, “Those people that have experience just naturally will set themselves apart just because they have the ability or the know-how to blend [with the other dancers.]”
Junior Chelsie Arume began dancing when she was five for a hālau called Hālau Hula ‘O Pu’uwailani. She said, “I love how dancing hula makes me feel. It makes me feel beautiful. When I dance, it makes me feel relaxed, and it makes me feel good about myself.” This is her first year in HBA’s hālau. She joined because she was passionate about hula and wanted to be involved with something different since she had recently quit playing volleyball. She said, “I enjoy all the members of the hālau; they make me feel very welcomed. I like how we dance for God, and we don’t get judged. There’s no pressure to dance for God. We just go and do it.”
Like Arume, sophomore Jordyn Wang has been dancing since her childhood. She started at four with Hālau Hula ʻo Hōkūlani and joined HBA’s hālau during her freshman year. “I get nervous sometimes and it’s pretty hard keeping a smile on my face for the whole song,” she said. Wang’s favorite event is when the hālau dances for HBA’s Mainland Advisory Council during their annual visit to the school.
The Hālau Hula ‘O Kala Ula currently consists of seven girls. With the Soldiers of Light, they perform at different churches once a month, in addition to HBA chapels and fundraisers such as the PTF Fun Fair. Both groups just held a dinner theater show in May, which helped to raise funds for a trip to Maui this June.
The Hālau Hula ‘O Kala Ula will be having tryouts on Friday, May 23. Students who are interested can speak to Yokotake or a hālau member.