Junior brings Hawaiian warmth to Minnesota

Maria Cass

Warm, relaxing stereotypical Hawaiian culture seems a world away in the freezing cold of a Minnesota winter, and unfortunately, it is. But If you are junior Julie Holly, one aspect of the culture is only a car ride away in her friend’s basement. This is where Holly and some of her friends from other schools learn the art of Hula dancing from a friend’s mom.

If you are a sophomore, junior, or senior, you might remember seeing Holly preform at the talent show put on during multicultural week last year, her act was definitely one of a kind. Although Holly is not Hawaiian and has “no cultural ties” to Hawaii, Hula dancing is something she enjoys doing in her free time, that is, when she isn’t participating as a member of the swim or track teams here at Benilde-St. Margaret’s.

Besides the multi-cultural week talent how, Holly said her group usually does performances for nursing homes that put up special decorations for their senior residents so they feel like they are in Hawaii. The costumes the girls wear help add to the authentic feeling: the outfits range from skirts with floral patterns and strapless tops to huge grass skirts, which is traditional, Holly said. Besides nursing homes, the group also performs for an occasional birthday party, adding an extra dose of fun to a Hawaiian theme party.

The Hula is one of three major dances which are collectively called Polynesian dancing. These dances are Hula, Maori, and Tahitian, and each of them is different. The Hula, according to Holly involves “smoother, calmer dancing” and is what most people think of when they imagine a hula dancer. Maori and Tahitian, said Holly, take more energy and are harder to master because they are more complex. Maori involves poi balls (newspaper covered in cloth) which are attached to a string and swung around in circles by the dancer who is at the same time dancing to the beat of the music. “It is really fun but really hard,” said Holly, also adding that Maori is more like a chant. The Tahitian dance involves the stereotypical grass skirt and a headdress: “you just hit your hips as hard as you can,” said Holly.