What a wonderful celebration! 20 Years of Hula School Na Wai ‘Ohi‘a

Newsletter July 2023

One more night of sleep... But how? Excitement and anticipation are keeping me awake. For months now, the performance at "Millers" in Zurich Seefeld has been our goal. We have practiced, practiced and practiced again! The dress rehearsal was today, fortunately very successful. Accordingly, all is pointing towards a successful 20th-anniversary celebration of our Hula School Na Wai ‘Ohi‘a.  A must, since 220 guests have registered; the hall is sold out!

I am not the only one tossing and turning sleeplessly in bed. I can hear our guests from Hawai'i in the rooms next door. They have just arrived, jet lag is affecting them. Our teacher Kumu Keala is here, accompanied by his sister Candy. Moreover, Rolinda Bean, leader of the band "Hainoa Kona" has come, along with guitarist Russel Paio, as well as her 8-year-old daughter Helena. On top of that, Rolinda has brought clothes from the top Hawaiian label "Wahine Toa". They will be met with great interest when we offer them for sale at "Millers".

Moreover, my friend Kyoko from Kona is here. Like me, she has been dancing under the guidance of Kumu Keala for 20 years. The first to arrive, Kyoko got here days ago. Finally some quality time together, a rarity. However, we didn't just talk. Kyoko helped weave the leis. We make them using the Hawaiian plant la'i as well as our native elderberry - symbolizing the connection between the two cultures. In addition, Kyoko enriched our Hi'uwai, the ceremony on the shore of Lake Zurich in preparation for the performance. The goal of the Hi'uwai is to gain clarity, strength and purity, and to surrender everything we don't need to the water in gratitude.

Finally, the morning has come, June 23 can begin. The dancers, Kumu Keala, the other guests from Hawai'i and I are already at "Millers" at 2 pm. Soundcheck, light check, prepare the instruments and all our clothes - including the self-dyed skirts -, another short snack for refreshment. In the blink of an eye, it is already 5:30 p.m., time for the opening ceremony. So far only Kumu Keala and us from Na Wai ‘Ohi‘a are admitted. Accompanied by chants, we hand over various lei to Kumu, along with ferns, elder and la'i leaves. Kumu decorates the altar of Laka, the goddess of Hula. Laka embodies all that is hula, and we connect with her. Today, on our big day, I can feel this connection even more intensely, even more deeply. I can feel Laka's essence within me. So much beauty and strength!

Punctually at 6:30 pm, we are standing on stage. The audience is welcoming us with a big round of applause.

We start with the traditional dances. 20 years of hula history have come together in them; each dance is a gift: flowing togetherness, like waves, like leaves in the wind. Kumu Keala and I accompany the dances with either the pahu (drum) or the ipu (percussion instrument). After starting with a drum dance, the dancers move on to a seated dance (Noho) – presented with stones ('Ili'ili) -, a third dance with Kala'au (wooden sticks), which is followed by a dance dedicated to the Hawaiian double-hulled canoe (Wa'a). The finale is a reproductive dance (Hula Ma'i).

During the intermission, I join the dancers. We get changed to perform the modern dances ('Auana). The band "Hainoa Kona" consisting of Rolinda Bean (ukulele, vocals), Russel Paio (guitar) and Kumu Keala (ukulele, vocals), comes on stage. Meanwhile, the ‘Auana dances have a tradition that is over 100 years old. They emerged after the suppression of the Hawaiian culture by the West. They tell of the beauty of the islands as well as of love. All of us - dancers, Kumu Keala, band - are in unison with the audience and everything. I can feel strength and lightness at the same time, concentration and joy, groundedness and floating. 220 people are thrilled. Hula is life!

After three-quarters of an hour, the dancers leave the stage, and return for the grand finale: collectively we dance "Tutu Myra", the song in honor of my mother. Many people in the audience get up and dance along. My son Lehua comes on stage and dances next to me. The tradition is being passed on to the next generation. How Myra would love to be part of this! She laid the foundation for this event 30 years ago when she connected to Hawai'i. Without our Kupuna Myra, AlohaSpirit would not have been created - and this evening would not exist.

Just like that, the celebration is over. The guests leave, we pack up and drive home, fulfilled and full of gratitude, still floating inside. I let the images and emotions pass through me once again. For 20 years I have been enriched by Hula, and through it, with spirituality, deep knowledge and transformation. What a gift! What a privilege!

From the bottom of my heart, I thank all those who have contributed to this success. First of all, of course, our teacher, Kumu Keala Ching, then Rolinda Bean, Russel Paio, Kyoko Gilbert and the wonderful dancers of Na Wai Ohi’a: Angela Aebli, Isabel Akers, Silvia Bernhard, Cornelia Bollier, Scarlett Eisenhauer, Carola Friesenbichler, Eveline Gucker Iseli, Gina Heusser, Chiharu Ito, Bea Rüdisüli Hauert, Alexandra Meier, Stefanie Schaller, Joo Nyun Schwaar, Sabrina Sovilla, Cyrilla Talovic and Claudine Treichler.

Moreover, I would also like to thank all sponsors and families for their generous support, all friends, the dedicated audience and the Millers staff. Without this support over the years, this unique, great, unforgettable evening would not have been possible.



Noelle Delaquis

Here is a photo selection of the evening

PS. Would you like to experience the power of Hula, the pulse of the Hawaiian people? Then get in touch with AlohaSpirit. Every Tuesday evening from 5 pm we teach Hula. What’s more, we meet once a month for a full day of Hula, next time on August 19th.

PPS. From November on, we will also start a Hula-Beginners-Class in Seefeld in Zurich. Yes, that's right, in Seefeld! AlohaSpirit is moving! After 16 years in Meilen, we are opening our center for Hawaiian body therapy and culture in the most beautiful neighborhood of Zurich. Let us surprise you... More to come in the next newsletter.

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