The popular Ashland Hula School will celebrate its 10th birthday Sunday, Aug. 6, with gala performances by students, free hula lesson, workshops on Hawaiian culture, making a lei and gourd drum, and “spreading a little aloha” with ukulele playing and singing.
This, the first-ever Ashland Aloha Festival, will be held 2:30 to 7 p.m. at Grizzly Peak Winery on the east end of Nevada Street. It’s family friendly and features live music by award-winning slack-key guitarist Stephen Inglis from O’ahu and local Hawaiian band Ha’ena.
The hula show displays classic kahiko (ancient style) and modern 'auana style dances, says the school’s Kumu Hula Andrea Luchese, the school’s creator and the valley’s only master teacher of traditional Hawaiian dance.
The school has grown from a “small, committed” group of dancers which regularly competes in Hawaii and now has 60 members. It’s Hawaiian name is Hula Halau Ka Pi'o O Ke Anuenue.
For students, hula evokes the spirits of nature and spreads aloha, which is a greeting, “but much deeper, the goodness and divinity in each other … grounding yourselves in the true seeing of goodness, a genuine care and concern for others,” says Luchese. “Hula is the path and vehicle to explore and express this.”
Fourteen-year student Lisa Bailey notes she’s spent a lot of her life giving to others and “sending my energy out, taking care of people, so hula is something I take in and restore and invigorate myself. It can be a cruel and challenging world sometimes and hula reminds me to see and look for grace and beauty in the world.”
Ten-year student Catherine Rowe says she spotted hula in Ashland’s Fourth of July parade, where it always gets a big smile and applause — and she saw it as something refreshing and different than her work as a Realtor.
“It looked like they were having a blast. Something drew me to it. It helps me move. I completely got lost in it, the movement and the music,” says Rowe, who has competed in Hawaii three times and, in the over-55 class, helped win the world championship.
“No one can see it and not feel happy,” she says. “It says there is something bigger in the world than us. It’s also good for the brain as you age.”
Hula “leaves a pounding in your heart and a whisper in your soul” and, says Luchese, “can be a spiritual path that uplifts and empowers, whether you are the dancer or watcher. It adds grace and beauty to our lives … and holistically engages body, mind and spirit.”
If you come to get an introductory hula lesson, Luchese says anyone can do it, “you just flow like water and feel nature in your body. but,” she adds, “there’s an old saying, you have to leave your bashfulness at home.”
There will be family friendly Cultural Workshops, with all materials and instruments provided, lei-making, Hula lessons, 'ukulele lesson and sing-a-long, ipu-making (hand drum) and drumming, 'Ohe Kapala demonstration (traditional carved-bamboo cloth stamping) and Hawaiian food catered by Sunrise Cafe, $7-10. Wine is available for purchase.
An all-day pass, including workshops and show, is $25 ($10 for children 12 and under). A show only pass is $15 in advance or $20 at the door ($5 for children). An all-day VIP pass with priority seating, fresh lei and glass of wine, is $40. Tickets are available on the events page at ashlandhula.com and at Houston’s Gallery or Music Coop or at the event. Workshops run from 2:30 to 4 p.m., and the show starts at 4:30 p.m. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 541-973-6267.
Proceeds from the event support the teaching program and trips to Hawaii.
A four-week introductory classes begin begin Sept. 6, with children’s classes starting Sept. 21. See the website for details.
— John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.
(Aug. 4: Story updated to correct ticket information and event end time.)