On Nov. 22, USF’s Hula Club welcomes everyone to join them in celebrating Ho’ike, the second annual Hawaiian dance and culture exposé.
Two Hawaiian USF students, including the club’s current president Mahe Lum, founded the USF Hula Club. Lum said, “We wanted to create a place where girls can come and dance without being afraid of being judged by the other girls, embrace the [Hawaiian] culture and not be afraid to learn. It’s a precious thing.”
Lum studied Hula under a Kumu (hula expert) while growing up in Hawaii and was taught the ancient Hawaiian myths and legends by her grandmother, also a hula dancer. “It’s passed down generation to generation because Hawaiian, in ancient times, was not a written language. Everything was oral,” she said. Lum explained that hula dances tell the stories of Hawaiian heroes, places, and myths.
This year’s exhibition will focus on the tales of Maui, who Lum described as the “Hawaiian superman.” “Each of the dances that we do is a different heroic act [by Maui] for the people,” she said. USF Hula members will be performing stories depicting Maui lassoing the sun to create seasons, stealing the knowledge of fire from the birds and describing the ocean.
But Ho’ike will showcase more than just hula. A dinner showcasing traditional Hawaiian and local foods is included in the price of the ticket. There will also be an “opener” for the Hula Club’s performance featuring cultural dance from other islands. “Hawaii is a combination of mini-cultures,” said Lum. “In the beginning we’ll dance Tahitian and New Zealand, similar threads in those three cultures.”
Sophomore Alison Nishiyama, another Hula Club member from Hawaii who has practiced hula since childhood, wants Ho’ike to break the stereotypes pop culture has created surrounding Hawaiian dance. “My brother does hula; men dance it too,” she said.
In the two years since its creation USF’s Hula club has become a springboard for sharing cultures and making friends. “It enables everyone to get together. Learning the process just makes you closer,” said Nishiyama. “You get to share not only Hawaiian cultures but other cultures.” Such is the case with Chiyo Nogawa, an exchange student from Japan. Nogawa said that
joining USF’s Hula club has helped her meet people in her new school. “We have reason to be together,” she said. “We have to practice together.”
Nogawa warned against the misconception that hula is not an athletic art form. “It hurts,” she laughed. “Yeah, I feel stronger. It was more difficult than I thought. I thought I would just shake my hips.”
Nogawa and her fellow hula dancers began practicing a few weeks after the start of fall semester, and are excited to showcase the dances and legends they have learned. “It’s going to be fun to perform what we’ve been doing,” said Nogawa. Ho’ike, which means “final exam” or “showcase” in Hawaiian, serves exactly that purpose.
Whether they have been practicing for years or are performing hula for the first time, USF Hula Club members are looking forward to the opportunity to share their work with the community at 4:00 p.m. on Nov. 22. “I had such a great time last year,” Nishiyama said. “Last year was the first one. Having another one and being in another…I’m excited.”