Halau Pu'uwai O Aloha Hula 'Ohana
You can belong to different kinds of 'ohana -- family/clan 'ohana, work/recreational 'ohana, church/school 'ohana, and so on. It helps people understand who you are when you say, “I belong to the “Webster Company 'Ohana,” or the ”Castle High School 'Ohana,” or “the Lindsey 'Ohana,” or the “Red Rebels baseball ‘Ohana.”
So today, we frequently use the word 'ohana to describe relationships beyond nuclear and kin family groups, referring to work or community groups as 'ohana. How did that come to be?
The word 'ohana is rooted in the taro plant -- 'oha-ana: ‘ohā is the shoot, the part of the taro plant which is cut from the plant and planted to become the next generation; anais is a conjunctive word connoting regeneration or procreation. Procreation and regeneration carried important implications for Polynesians, and Hawaiians think of kalo (taro) as the older sibling of man.
Today, 'ohana includes all who are brought and accepted into the family group. That also includes those of the past and those of the future. Your 'ohana nourishes you. There are even hānai (adopt, nourish) relationships which feed a person both physically and spiritually. In turn, you share in the responsibilities of your 'ohana's kuleana (work, responsibility, function). It's a give and take. There's a saying: “Prepare for the seven generations ahead.” That means do your work so that those seven generations, those in the future, will also benefit. People in Hawai‘i, even non-Hawaiians, accept this.
Halau Pu'uwai O Aloha is a non'traditional school of hula; and this sense of 'ohana, community or belonging is a recurring theme among halau - hula schools. As Kumu Hula, Rita Moon on Lanai says; "Our halau is an extension of our homes. We share with and care for each other, making sure not to cause hurt by worry or deed. My haumana (students) become hula sisters, part of the 'ohana, not just acquaintances in dance".
Within a hula ‘ohana, hula is "that body of dances uniquely done for or by Hawaiians with themes, contents and purposes wrapped up in values that have historically been important to people calling themselves Hawaiians." (from Hula! By Ismael Stagner)
Hula as a dance form is about unity. Unity of mind(s) and body(ies). Unity between (wo)man and the elements of nature. "For when it is done well, hula represents a metaphysical union of the forces that have always characterized one’s attempts to make him (or herself) one with the universe".(from the book Hula! by Ismael Stagner)
In the hula communities there is a strong emphasis on kindness, inclusiveness, being agreeable, humble and patient. The prevailing sense of 'ohana - sense of family and kinship, strengthens this. It is the active cultivation of 'ohana that makes hula satisfactory or meaningful to those who "feel lost and search out to that which brings them closer to feelings of completeness".
This does not exclude people of any other origin to identify to the roots of hula. Though the stories and references in the various hula dances are unique to the Hawaiian Island culture, it is possible to see them symbolically and transfer the meanings to universal themes we can identify to within each of our own cultures. This is why we are seeing so many Halaus and Hula ‘Ohanas appearing all around the planet today!
Weekly Basic Classes on Tuesday nights, 6:15pm - 7:45pm, held at the Heart of Aloha Center, in the Glendale Shoals area of East Spartanburg
An Introductory Workshop in Hula the last Saturday of every month - the next is Saturday, May 26
Monthly workshops will also be offered in the Greenville SC in the near future. Check back for more information, if you are in the Greenville area.