Random Person – your daughter is a dancer? Jazz or ballet?
Me – actually she’s a Hula and Tahitian dancer
Random Person – Really, why?
The question isn’t out of line, Dagny’s doing something that’s not the norm, and people are curious not only about what she’s doing, but about how she got involved in it. I’m not exactly sure how or why she decided she wanted to dance hula, I assume it had something to with the prevalence of Hawaiian things in our home (Steve lived there for a couple of years) and the movie Lilo & Stitch. When Dagny was 7 she told us she wanted to be a hula dancer, and while I thought it was cute, I didn’t think it was possible. (at the time I had no idea how large the Hula community is) I did some research and found out that there was a Halau (hula school) right in our own backyard. Amazing. After her first class she was hooked, and since then she has literally dedicated part of her life to the culture and the dancing. Hula is not the type of dance where you drop your kid off at class once a week and go to a recital once a year. The commitment is much larger than that and it involves the whole family. I didn’t realize that when Dagny first started dancing, but it became apparent very quickly and we embraced it. Dane danced for about 5 years, and I have always helped with costumes and backstage stuff. Because of the Halau we have all seen and experienced and learned things we would have never been exposed to otherwise. It has made our world a whole lot bigger.
Throughout the year the Halau participates in various shows and competitions, but the major endeavor ever year is Ho’ike. Ho’ike is the Halau’s “recital”, yet it’s still a professional quality show. The amount of work and preparation that goes into a show like that is staggering, and when you see it all come together it’s breathtaking. This year was Dagny’s seventh Ho’ike, and I say it every year, this was the best one yet. The story, the dances, the costumes, the music, it was all spectacular. I made the prototypes for two of the Tahitian costumes and I really enjoyed being part of that creative process. The costumes looked amazing, it was a proud moment when I saw them on stage.
As a dancer Dagny has become so graceful and mature, she’s beautiful to watch. She dances from within and it radiates out of her. She gets a lot of positive comments about her facial expressions and she says it’s easy to smile on stage because she’s having so much fun. Her comfort on stage is backed up with all the hard work it takes to get there, it’s gratifying to see it all come together. Dagny helps teach a couple of the younger kids classes and watching her interactions with her little students is priceless. They adore her and she is so good with them. Before they went on stage they gathered around her and she reminded them about the things they needed to remember for their dance, then she spoke to each one and told them something positive about their dancing. I watched this precious moment from across the room and I’ll admit that it brought a tear to my eye. The Halau is about so much more than just the dancing.