Oklahomans Help Spread Hawaiian Culture Through Hula Dancing
OKLAHOMA CITY - Hawaii is the farthest state from Oklahoma, but there is some “aloha spirit” right here in the Sooner State. More and more Oklahoma women are turning to hula dancing as a release from the daily grind.
A recent gathering of women from Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Fort Worth, Texas, demonstrates how much the trend has grown. They all share a common love for hula dancing.
“I think some of them just find great peace in the movements and the stories,” said Laura Ward, who leads one of Oklahoma City’s groups.
There are now more than 10 hula groups across Oklahoma, most meeting once a week to dance, sing and laugh. At the workshop, they learned something new from renowned instructor Moanalani Beamer, a Maui native.
Beamer travels the world teaching hula classes, but said Oklahomans make her feel like she is home.
“We call it 'aloha,'” said Beamer. “There’s this general welcoming spirit, community spirit and sharing and that’s very familiar to me, with a different accent.”
Accents aside, the dancers speak a different language while playing instruments and learning the moves. The dance style has become very popular among senior women, helping keep their brains fresh and their bodies active.
“My mom is the oldest thing here,” said Ward. “She’s 94 and still hulas.”
Each song tells a story of Hawaiian life, and many are generations old. Beamer just hopes her culture's traditions can live on for years to come.
“The language is important. Our history is important because there are lessons to be learned. You can look back and learn valuable things,” she said.