The Beginning Hula, Pacific Folk Dance, and the Polynesian Music Ensemble classes collaborated in a night of singing and dancing at the Aloha Center Ballroom on April 10.
The night began with a Fijian performance, followed by Tonga, Samoa, New Zealand, and Tahiti, each accompanied by an ensemble of ukuleles, guitars, and drumming. During some parts, the ensemble and dancers sang or chanted.
The cheers from the audience were the loudest after the men from the EXS 185 class performed the haka. The stage was vigorously shaking as they stomped, to the point it looked like the stage would fall apart.
This is Choreographer and Dance Instructor Auntie Bobbi’s eleventh time holding a final performance. “Due to Culture Night, we do not have a specific theme but just combining the traditional songs for this semester.”
The “only different thing” Aunti Bobbi added to this performance was a solo Marquesas Dance. Most of the students in the three classes were from the United States, Asia, and South America. There were three or four Polynesians who had never danced and they joined the class to learn their own dances.
“It was hard for them at first,” she said. “My joy is watching their progress from the first day to half way through the semester and to see the finished product at the end. I always have a small amount of students who have danced before, but most of them do not dance.”
“I know I have been successful when I see them smiling when performing.
Sonny Ah Puck, Aunty Bobbi’s nephew and a student in the hula class, performed a solo. Bobbi said, “He is really skillful and helped me teach dancing in the class.”
One of the climaxes of the show was when Sonny walked into the crowd and randomly selected two men to dance with him. Standing in between them, Sonny danced in simple moves as the two men followed his moves. The light was turned off after they started dancing. The audience raised their mobile phones up as if being in a real music concert.
Tommy Marz, a freshman from Utah majoring in social work shouted with excitement, “It was amazing and I loved it!” He said he thought the performers were energetic and into it. “My favorite one is probably the Tongan one where they were hitting sticks.”
The show ended with a finale combining all three classes. Aunty Bobbi said, “My favorite part was the finale. It has a combination of motions from different cultures.” Cheers and applause filled the ballroom and people left with great memories.
Elizabeth Meyr, a freshman from Oregon majoring in English, said she was invited by her friends who were in the performance. “I really liked the Hawaiian solo as I felt like they were really beautiful and they portrayed the culture of Hawaii well. The music was beautiful. I think the performance is a really good way to show appreciation to all the cultures.”
Christian Durney, a freshman from Oklahoma majoring in biology, said he watched the entire hula performance for his first time. “I liked the Tahitian dance. … It is just really cool to see how coordinated it was by practicing for only one semester.”