IMPERIAL – The City of Imperial celebrated its 10th Annual Luau Night on July 11th, Friday evening at the Imperial High School pool.
Among all the wonderful festivities was a halau (hula group) named Desert Hula that performed authentic hula dancing songs.
Being their first anniversary, they celebrated by performing what they had learned all year.
Leslie Lara, a Desert Hula student said, “I felt we did great at Friday’s luau. We all worked hard learning the Hawaiian chants, dances and songs we performed. I am so very proud of our halau because we are an ohana, a family. “
The halau’s instructor, U’iliani Kau’ilaua’eleilani Rodriguez, is one of two certified Kuma Hula instructors in the Imperial and Coachella Valley’s. She has over 40 years of dance experience and 20 years experience in teaching hula.
“Hula is a way of life. It’s not about dance. It’s about life style and history,” she said.
Her family is from the islands of Oahu and Kauai and she claims her lineage can be traced back hundreds of years.
Rodriguez spent four year in instruction, graduating under a famous Hawaiian cultural preservationist, educator, composer, and musician, Kawaikapuokalani Hewett.
When joining the halau, one learns all aspects of hula and the Hawaiian culture, including language, songs, and how to make Hawaaiian adornments.
Dance student Leslie agreed, “We help each other make our hula outfits, our lets, everything. We are a true school. We take notes, we have homework, and at times we have tests. All our hard work is worth it when we have the opportunity to spread the Aloha spirit at a performance for the public.”
“I was asked by Leslie, who was interested in the culture, and saw an opportunity to educate the community in my lineage,” instructor Rodriguez said.
Classes are ongoing and available for students ages 5 to 75. If you would like more information, go to their website www.deserthula.com or their Facebook page, Desert Hula.