The Na Keiki O Hawaii conducted itseighth annual luau, Na Hiohi’ona Paeaina, which translates to “the elements of the island,” May 2 in Freeborn Hall.
The luau is the club’s most important event of the year. This year’s luau was the first to be completely choreographed by club members,said Brie-anna Rojas, club publicity officer.
“We want to spread the culture of Hawaii and get people involved in our club,” said club treasurer Kerri Domingo.
A traditional Hawaiian dinner was served at 6:30 p.m., with main courses consisting of Kalua pig, Shoyu chicken, and Lomi Lomi salmon, and was capped offwith a dessert of Haupia, a coconut pudding.
“This is my third year here, I come for the food,” said Tina Ackley, whose daughter Nina danced in the show. “For being in
California and put on by college students, this is a great event. There is a great live band and the food is excellent, the students do a great job.” Ackley said that over the course of 15 years she has been to and participated in over 300 luaus.
While food was being served, Nina Beckwith and Stephanie Sin led the audience in a traditional Hawaiian prayer.
Then the dancing began.
“We are performing three hulas, one modern and two traditional [hulas],” said Rojas, a sophomore animal biology and environmental biology double major.
“The Tahitian dance is the biggest dance of the night,” she said. “All the girls perform in this dance.”
“The Tahitian [dance] gets the crowd going, it gets the energy up, it’s a fast dance,” said Raeann Kurasaki, a junior nutrition science major.
The Haka and the Puili sticks were new dances in this year’s lineup. The Haka, an all male dance, was eagerly anticipated by the crowd.
“The haka has never been done before. It’s a really intense dance,” Rojas said. “It was all choreographed by students.”
“The stick dance is my favorite,” said Mike Leo-grande, whose niece was in the show. “You have got to be pretty talented to do that.”
“The dancing is better than the food,” he added.
Celeste Ventocilla, a juniorbiological sciences major, participated in her first luau this weekend.
“I joined at first because of the dancing,” she said. “I have done salsa and meringue in the past,but this type of dancing seemed more natural because it was done barefoot.” Ventocilla performed the seaweed dance and inthe hula dances.
“It’s really fun,” Ventocilla said of the club. “We perform at schools, on Picnic Day, but this is our big bash. The point is not to raise money but to celebrate.”
“There’s nothing like the feeling of being on stage,” said Melody Jue, the club member in charge of decorations for the event. “It’s my last luau and I don’t know if I can encapsulate what that’s like – it’s like graduation.”
“The Hawaii club is the most fun activity I have on campus. It’s my social life,” she said.
Planning for the event began in the middle of fall quarter. “Next year we plan to do more publicity and fundraising,” Rojas said. “If you’re interested in becoming a part of this, look out for us in the fall quarter.”
CHARLES HINRIKSSON and ERICA LEE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.