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Hana Hou! Let’s Do It Again, Sonoma Mtn. School!

Hula made a return to Sonoma Mountain School in the Fall and we had a blast!

We began our 12 week Hawaiian Dance, Music and Storytelling with a very sweet sense of familiarity from the students.  As we began to dance, their movements and steps all came back and took on a more solidified understanding and knowing of Hula.  From grades 1-6, the kids easily slipped back into moving and connecting their motions and steps which allowed us to enjoy moving together and working on synchronizing our motions and steps.  The school Hula that I chose is from the movie Moana, entitled, We Know The Way.  The song’s lyrics speak about the ancient Polynesian Wayfinding principals and practices, and embrace the cultural teaching of, “Know who you are and where you come from, in order to know where you’re going on your Life Journey”.  The movie’s main character is a girl who finds her inner strength and courage through the teachings of her family and culture. This is a powerful message that I wanted to share with the kids via dancing Hula and with their work in learning the choreography and our sharing of cultural stories, I believe it was instilled in them.  In our Hawaiian Culture, we have a practice called, Anoano, meaning, planting of the seeds.  Basically, we plant seeds of positive thoughts and ways of being in the world that aligns to a Higher Good, as we learn our different daily cultural practices, one of them being Hula and Storytelling.

For the youngest/newest students in grades TK & K, I did storytelling that entailed a Hula as well, and used props such as costumes, Hula instruments, and easy Hawaiian language words.  Young minds are SO amazing!  The kids seemed to absorb the stories, names of characters (even with Hawaiian names and words!) and teachings so easily!  They would remember the names weeks after I told a story!

Our school assembly finale was amazing!  We ended the 12 weeks with a culminating performance of all grades, sharing what they learned with each other and many parents in attendance as well.  We began with the TK/K & 1st graders doing their Hula on the stage, which they LOVED dancing on! Then the 2nd & 3rd grades performed their Hula that they learned together, followed by the 4th graders, who danced with short Kala’au or hula sticks as they chanted along with their dance.  The 5th and 6th graders really worked hard on learning their Maori Poi Ball and Haka routine, a new combo than last year, and their hard work showed!  there were 52 girls doing the Maori Poi Balls and about 30 boys doing the Haka.  It was a powerful and beautiful performance from them.  We finished the performance with the whole school dancing to the Moana song, We Know The Way.  That was about 450 students dancing all together!  Such a fabulous sight to experience!  Many parents came up to me afterwards to thank me for teaching their child and that was such a wonderful gift for me.

Sonoma Mountain School rocks! Mahalo to the Staff and especially to Michele Gochberg for bringing me back.  It was such an honor.

Me ke aloha,

Shawna Alapa’i

Artist In Residence

 

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