Alexa is a member of the hālau (Polynesian Dance school / group) based in Santa Clara called Ha’a Hula / Te Reva O’ Te Manu. A hālau is a Hawaiian word meaning a school, academy, or group. She’s been dancing with them for the last 3 years, but had to take a break last Fall due to her gymnastics competition schedule. Sadly, this meant she was not able to participate in Ho’ike this year.
“Ho’ike” is defined as a final test or exhibition in the Hawaiian language. It’s basically a Polynesian Dance Recital.
You didn’t know you were getting a Hawaiian language lesson today did you? LOL!
Despite not being on stage this year, Alexa did help me with the stage decor and was a big help backstage. My contribution to the hālau is creating the stage decor. On a very tight, nearly non-existent budget, I am tasked with transforming the stage into a tropical paradise. I’m always amazed at what we can achieve each year.
Let’s take a look…
Ho’ike 2017 – May 7th at the Santa Clara Convention Center
This year’s ho’ike was just this past weekend. It was the 3rd annual production.
Kahua ia Manu – the place where the birds land was the theme, so I wanted to incorporate that into the stage design. I decided to insert the bird into the tropical wall. I had the bird digital file enlarged, cut out the template, traced it onto foam board and cut it out. From there, Alexa made the paper flowers out of nearly 400 hundred coffee filters and taped them on individually. There were 2 birds so this was a laborious task that took many, many hours. From there, we spray painted the bird orange so it would stand out against the greenery. I used a fan palm leaf as the bird’s tail feather. That was cleaned and spray painted as well. Here’s how it turned out… I was pretty happy with it.
Oh…and I used a bloom from a faux bird of paradise plant as the beak…can you see it? It was much more impressive for us when we did it. It wasn’t really noticed in person.
We also needed lots of fresh greenery for the tropical green walls. I saw that one of my design clients had a bunch of palm trees at his house so I had gotten permission to trim some of his trees for him. I got a combination of smaller palm tree leaves and banana palm or bird of paradise palm leaves. I then stopped at a house that I had been stalking near another client’s home and asked if I could take a few of their fiddle leaf philodendron leaves. I cut 9 branches (they’re huge) before the overprotective neighbor stopped me. Here’s what we were able to create with the help of some of the guys affiliated with the halau.
At the last minute, I ran to Home Depot to buy some uplights to shine on our displays since there were no house lights we could use and it just fell flat without lighting. Once I turned the lights on, it cast shadows of the foliage on the ceiling which was so pretty! I’m so glad I added the lights because this is what the stage looked like without it. See how dark it was on each side?
Meanwhile Alexa was backstage helping her hula sisters get dressed and ready for each dance number. We enjoyed seeing everyone as we’d been away for about 8 months.
Here’s me and my girl at Ho’ike 2017. Glad we were able to join in on the fun even if not as dancers like we were at Ho’ike 2016.
Ho’ike 2016 – May 5th at Napredak Hall, San Jose
I was very happy with how the stage turned out last year. We didn’t really know what we were going to do. The stage turned out to be too small to fit all the dancers so the main stage ended up being on the floor and the musicians ended up on the stage. Just like any project, last minute changes and accommodations need to be made. We weren’t thrilled with the red velvet curtains which had to stay, but it ended up working out really well and created a nice contrast against the green tropical walls. I just love the organic texture of all the tropical leaves. It made for a beautiful backdrop for the photos! Oh, and all the silk plants were created the year before. It’s all about re-purposing and re-using what we have.
It was really fun to participate in Ho’ike together with Alexa. I had danced in my younger days and always wanted her to dance too, but she didn’t really have interest until her BFF asked her to join the halau. Now she loves it!
The opening number was a mother / daughter hula dance even though it got a little lost in translation since the kids were on the floor and the moms were on stage (can you find me?). It was a tight squeeze!
This is my favorite picture of Alexa…she looks so pretty and happy dancing! Feel the Aloha!
Beautiful Ha’a Hula girls…
The finale is always an Ori number, a Tahitian dance with drumming. The dancers took up the entire floor stage. It was pretty amazing to watch.
We were blessed to have friends support us and coming to watch the show.
These beauties are my former hula sisters (from left to right – Alice, Bem, Gladys, Bet and Mike). We used to dance together under Auntie Loke’s reign in our much younger days. They all dance for another halau headed by one of our other hula sisters.
And these two mini beauties (Anaya, Alexa and Maya) belong to the above beauties.
And of course, Auntie Joy, Auntie Yvonne and Emma were there too.
It was a great show…I’m thinking I’ll have to do a highlight video at some point. This was the entire halau at the end of the show.
And a quick shot outside afterwards…
Oh and these goofballs…
Ho’ike 2015 – May 3rd at Covington School, Los Altos
This was the first Ho’ike for Ha’a Hula. Our venue was small and we were literally busting at the seams but that was motivation to make the next year even better and it was!
This is what dancers do to get the wild jungle hair…braids or corn rows. Ours wasn’t pretty (I think I did it) but it worked!
Here are some of the kids during stage rehearsal and they are enjoying the popsicles I brought. They deserve a little treat for all their hard work!
This was the only year we actually had access to the venue the day before which is when we set up and did a stage rehearsal. It was a loooong day. Love that these two were willing to give me a foot massage at the end. Of course, they were 9 years old at the time!
Our stage was pretty small so there wasn’t a lot of room to add a lot of decor but I did build these tropical planters to set on the steps so it could frame the stage. I had my contractors build the boxes out of scrap material from our job sites and I stained them in my garage and filled them with the faux bromeliads and greenery.
We also have two of these tropical florals boxes. They will be reused again and again…
Here’s a peek at them onstage along with the fresh floral centerpieces that were made for the event. So many people thought mine were real too! 😉
Here are some of the dancers “backstage” which was outside. They were so little…half of them are still with the halau and they have grown so much!
Unfortunately, I was working at the event and was on door duty during the performance and tried to take photos of the dancing with my iPhone 5 which was not very good, but something is better than nothing.
Alexa with her Kumu (teacher), Auntie Lou.
And at the end of the show with her BFF / Hula Sister, Taliyah. They look soo young (9 years old, how time flies!)
That’s it for the walk down memory lane with our three ho’ikes. It’s a lot of fun, but a lot of hard work. Making costumes and accessories is my least favorite of all the requirements, but then you see the show come together and it makes it all worth it so, until next year.
A Hui Hou Kākou!
(until we meet again)