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Students hang loose with Hawaiian dancers


Photo by Laura Wire/Fourth Estate

Aloha Hawaiian Dancers from Chicago demonstrate how to hula in the Phoenix Rooms May 1.

Shelby Larson , Entertainment Writer
May 6, 2014
Filed under Entertainment, Top Stories

With a complimentary coconut cup in hand, and a plate of fruit, the audience was ready for the hula dance-off by the Aloha Hawaiian Dancers from Chicago in the Phoenix Rooms May 1.

“We are all family at heart,” said performer Lucia Mejia.

The dancers welcomed men who wanted to learn to dance on stage. They walked up to the stage and were dressed in grass skirts and headdresses to learn the fruit salad dance.

“I had a lot of fun dancing on stage. I was hoping he was going to call us up there all night,” said Kyle Marshall, sophomore business major.

In the fruit salad dance, the men were asked to move their hips in the direction that corresponded with fruit. When the announcer said coconut they went right, pineapple was left and papaya was back.

During the last man’s dance he chased one of the girl dancers around the room.

THe drummer and announcer for the evening played the first song on his own drums. The audience was asked to clap along with the beat.

“The drummer was funny and he did a good job explaining everything,” said Jake Bauer, sophomore biology major.

As the clapping got faster and the beat sped up, a few members of the audience yelled and chanted back.

Throughout the night the dancers demonstrated dances from several Polynesian countries such as: Tahiti, Fiji, Hawaii and New Zealand.

Tahiti was the first country demonstrated. The dancers wore orange headdresses and grass skirts with seashells and coconut bras as well as orange brushes that were held in each hand.

Fiji was the next demonstration. The audience welcomed one man on stage to show a tribal dance. He wore a blue skirt with a fan in one hand and staff in the other with markings painted on his face. He let out a loud cry at the start and finish of the dance.

“The Hawaiian women dancers were good, but the male dancer was amazing,” Marshall said.

The drummer taught the audience a term and hand gesture that was used in the performance. He told the crowd that the word “Shaka” means hang loose.

The next place was the island state of Hawaii. The announcer introduced the audience to another term. He explained to them that “Aloha” means hello and had them yell to the dancers to get them on stage.

The dancers performed the hula to go along with the Hawaiian destination. The women were invited to come on stage to learn how to hula. One girl who didn’t understand how to do one of the moves was given attention by the drummer.

The movement they were trying to imitate was a soft and gentle wave but this girl’s arms were moving too fast for the instructor’s liking so he told her the waves she was making were tsunami waves.

Once the dancers finished the lessons, they devoted a dance to the implements used. One of them was a hollowed out gourd called an ipu, another was a set of flower-topped shakers called the uli uli and the final was a pair of sticks called the puili.

April Basten of the Green Bay South Pacific Sounds came to see how other groups present their shows.

“We came out to watch someone else do the work this time,” Basten said. “This was a fun setting and I really wanted to watch what they were doing and catch some of their technique as well.”

New Zealand was another place they demonstrated. A man in a black outfit with a fire baton performed the Haka, which is a welcoming dance and chant. The fire was not allowed to be lit on the ends because the performance was inside and was a fire hazard.

After the Haka, a woman came back on stage to demonstrate how to use another implement that can be set on fire.  She had two balls at the end of a long string, called poi balls, which she swung around her body.

To end the show, the dancers did a final demonstration from Tahiti.
They were in purple and pink outfits with headdresses and brushes.

After the show a Samoan man from the South Pacific Sounds got up on stage and did his version of the Haka.

For more information on the Aloha Hawaiian Dancers visit For more information on Good Times Programming and more upcoming events visit