If you’ve ever visited Disney’s Polynesian Resort, then there’s a good chance you encountered one of the cultural ambassadors, watched a hula dance, or maybe attempted to do a little hula yourself. I’ve had the fortune of knowing a few of these friendly people who live in Central Florida, but keep the spirit of aloha alive through their dance. Some of the cast recently participated in the Hoike Hawaii 16th Annual Hula Competition that was held here in Central Florida.
This annual event brings Hawaiian and Tahitian dancers and dance teams from around the United States to Orlando to participate in friendly dance competition with others who share their love of hula culture. Hula is a dance unique to Hawaii and is used to tell the state’s stories and history through movement.
For Cast Member Rose Monahan, that love began the first time she was introduced to hula dancing at a class taught by another Cast Member Auntie Kau’i who is the Hawaiian cultural ambassador at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Auntie Kau’i is also the team’s hula coach and mentor.
“I went one time and I was hooked,” said Monahan. “Hula dancing is a lot of fun. It’s a lot of work, too, but you make so many great friends and it’s amazing to learn about another culture.”
The group spends every Saturday morning with Auntie Kau’i at the Polynesian resort preparing for the competition. After practicing, they often join resort guests and teach them some hula moves.
Auntie Kau’i has been instrumental in bringing the spirit of the islands to Walt Disney World Resort since she was part of the team that helped open Disney’s Polynesian Resort in 1971. As an experienced hula dancer and a native of Hawaii, Auntie Kau’i teaches Cast Members and guests the spirit of aloha by greeting them with leis, sharing her love of Hawaiian culture and teaching them the basics of hula.
Do you have the Aloha spirit? Will you take a hula class the next time you’re at the Poly?