While the pandemic has drastically impacted various industries, it has failed to hamper Hōkūleʻa’s 11th dance season. Its founders, Ale and David, continue to teach and create beautiful art online that represents the authentic Polynesian cultures through music and dance.
In this time of crisis, they have looked back on what made them start the academy: to perpetuate the cultures of Polynesia by staying true and respectful to its people. COVID-19 won’t be enough of a challenge to stop them from pursuing this mission. Opening Hōkūleʻa Academy has allowed them to teach students much more than just dance routines, but the culture, history, music, and some of the languages that support these dances. Their educational and entertaining performances exude authenticity that keeps their audiences engaged and they intend to do so despite the current restrictions by providing a safe learning environment.
All of their Polynesian dance classes have history, language, and culture in the curriculum, available for children and adults, both men and women. “While teaching dance online has been quite a challenge it has provided us with an opportunity to stay connected with our students and provide them with space and time each week to keep moving and allow some type of normalcy to continue,” David said.
They are also offering a Polynesian music class where students can learn the Hawaiian ʻUkulele as well as the Tahitian drums. Hōkūleʻa students have several opportunities to perform throughout the summer months when they bring their show to large events, festivals, and parks across the Chicagoland area.
Today, Hōkūleʻa Academy is offering hybrid classes, strictly following all guidelines provided by local and state health officials to re-open their doors once more for in-person learning. Students can dance at ease as individual spaces have been marked on the floor. Moreover, masks are required inside the building, and sanitizer stations have been added. A detailed cleaning schedule is also being followed at the completion of each class. A video/zoom set up has been created to allow students to continue learning from home. However, David advises that the best way to learn is to be in the studio, especially if you are a beginner.
Amidst all these, Hōkūleʻa is opening a new Men's class and looking for new Male dancers/performers to join their team. The Samoan Fire Dance is an additional dance style taught in this class along with the other Polynesian styles. These classes are scheduled for Thursday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and new student discounts are available.
Anyone who may be interested in joining can e-mail them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at 847-722-8098. Further information about Hōkūleʻa is available on their website www.dancehokulea.com. Dancers have the option of paying a Monthly Membership Fee, that differs depending on class level and schedule, or a Session Membership Fee, 3 months upfront for a discounted rate. They also offer several discounts for multiple family members, couples, and High School/College students.
For David, this extraordinary pause is the perfect time for artists to dive inward and create new and beautiful art. “While many of us artists cannot be out sharing our work with others, we can focus, concentrate, and work more on the development and creation of art,” he shares.
Hōkūleʻa commits to training complete dancers who are well rounded in the cultural essence, protocol, and respect that is the foundation of unique dance styles. Now is the best time to start channeling one’s "locked up" energy towards something positive and self-fulfilling such as dancing with them--a reframing of the mindset that would be helpful to bear the brunt of the present.