Feel the spirit of Aloha with the hula | TheUnion.com

Feel the spirit of Aloha with the hula

Twice a week a group of 15 people get together to practice the traditional Hawaiian dance, the hula, at the Sierra Dance Institute. Hips, feet and hands move gracefully to the sounds of melodious Hawaiian music on CDs. These folks are dedicated to the dance, and they want to share their zeal with more folks who might be interested in an upcoming workshop.

How did they get hooked? It all started in January 2003 with a Hawaiian music and hula program at the Center for the Arts. Prior to the evening performance, a hula workshop was held. About 40 people came, friendships sparked, and from that came the Hula ‘Ohana – a name that means family in Hawaiian.

They chose that name because the group feels a strong sense of sister- and brotherhood with one another and with their teacher, Hawaiian-born Kumu (a title meaning teacher) Pilialohaokalani Christiansen, also known affectionately as Kumu Pili. She was the workshop teacher and performer on that fateful day in January two years ago. Soon she was coming every month from Oxnard, where she lives and teaches, to Grass Valley to give hula lessons.

What is a hula? It’s sure not superficial Hollywood, says group member Dale Deacon. Rather, it’s a lifestyle. “True hula is a positive, life-giving force that transcends the performer and the observer through time and space into a state of well-being. It allows the unification of mind, body and spirit.”

Practicing hula is said to help one develop traits from aloha (love and compassion) to kuleana (responsibility). Any age and either sex is always welcome. In fact, the newest male in the group is landscaper John Perkins, whom one might be able to catch on a Friday at the Bret Harte in Grass Valley, doing the hula while he’s blowing leaves around.

Dancers seem to come to hula for many reasons, among them exercise, camaraderie, a spiritual lift, and because they have a passion for Hawaiian dance and culture – much like Deacon, who wanted to know more about her Hawaiian heritage. “It’s been a life changing experience for me,” says the woman who was given the Hawaiian name Kuumomialoha (My Pearl of Love) by her teacher.

During the last year, Grass Valley Hula ‘Ohana has performed 18 hula dances for local senior retirement residences, convalescent homes and schools. Indeed, you can catch them performing at Golden Empire Convalescent Hospital next Tuesday, from 1 to 2 p.m., or on March 12 in “Starz 2005” at The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley.

This June, eight dancers from the Grass Valley Hula ‘Ohana will join dancers from Kumu Pili’s Southern California halau to compete in Honolulu, Hawaii, at the King Kamehaneha Hula Competition. To help finance this trip, a benefit titled “Hula In the Mountains” is scheduled for March 30. The event will include a Kalua roasted pig, a hula dance performance and fabulous prizes. Advance tickets are a must. For general booking information, including private parties, contact Dale Deacon at 268-3549.

“Hula is a beautiful dance,” says member Flo Fahrenheit, “and it makes me feel beautiful when I do it.”


WHAT: Monthly ongoing hula workshops for men and women, 16 and over.

WHEN: The next two are Feb. 19 and March 12; 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

WHERE: the Sierra Dance Institute, 314 W Main St., Grass Valley

ADMISSION: $50 for each workshop

INFORMATION: Preregistration required. Beginners welcome. Call Cindy Kelley at 477-5687. Call Dale Deacon for general information about Grass Valley Hula ‘Ohana.


WHAT: Performance “Starz 2005”

WHEN: March 12, 7 p.m.

WHERE: The Center for the Arts, 314 West Main St., Grass Valley

ADMISSION: $12 adults, $8 students and seniors

INFORMATION: Call 271-7000 for tickets and information


WHAT: “Hula in the Mountains,” a benefit

WHEN: March 30

WHERE: Monte Vista Inn, off I-80, Dutch Flat


INFORMATION: Cindy Kelley, 477-5687

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