Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Woodridge 1st Ward Community Luau

After several weeks of costume sewing and crafting, dance practices and dress rehearsals...

As well as advertising, cooking, decorating, delegating, coordinating, and spreading the word...

Kevin and I loaded our ward members into the church building, painted their faces, fixed up their hair and makeup, and got them all ready to perform in our first ever ward luau that was designed to invite the community and help us share the gospel!

My co-chairs, Zeke Johnson and Nate McConkie, thankfully took care of all the advertising, decorations, and food. Which freed Kevin and I up to teach all the dances, gather and make costumes, and organize and present the show.

About 15 minutes after we opened the doors, Kevin and I, as well as other members from my dance group Halau Hula O'Puanani, started the show with an Ancient Kahiko called Keahi Alapa, that was choreographed by my Uncle Bill Kelly!

Then Kevin and I split in a hurry so we could change for the next dance while Sarah and Christine danced Aoia with the ipu.

Then we were up again to dance Ku'u Hoa... all the while, Kevin was being the emcee between numbers. Needless to say, the man is VERY fast at changing costumes!

When we finished dancing Ku'u Hoa, some more ladies from our halau got up to perform the auana, Wahine Ilikea. Unfortunately, we didn't get any pictures because our photographer, Liberty Cameron, was behind stage trying to help Kevin paint a moko on his face.

Which of course brings us to the next dance that Kevin and I did, E Tui/Terina from the island of New Zealand. And I'm happy to announce that I didn't hit myself even ONCE while I was doing the poi balls!

Then Christine, Sarah, and Yoshie came back on to perform a Tahitian Otea and end the professional half of our show.

After they were finished, Kevin gave the ladies a final thank you and then began introductions for the second half of our show that would be performed by ward members!

We started by having the Bishopric lead random audience members through a simple Tahitian Otea (and when I say random, I mean they picked people who had it coming to them!)

Then the Elders Quorum got up and performed a sweet Haka! We had about 15 men on stage (or in front) screaming like maniacs and slapping themselves like wild monkeys...it was AWESOME!

Once the men cleared the stage, the Relief Society got up and performed Palehua. And of course, they had practiced to near perfection, sewed themselves matching costumes, and impressed everyone with their grace and beauty.

Next up were our Young Men. They performed a Fijian War Club dance and looked AMAZING in their table-skirt skirts and face paint. The best part? One of the leaders, Dan Deem, made each dancer their very own club fashioned after hockey sticks! :) Creative and effective!

Our Young Women followed the Young Men with a beautiful aparima called Fakateretere. They had all just returned from a week at EFY only an hour before we started the show, yet they still got up and danced their hearts out!

Then the show stopping High Priest group got up to perform a Fa'ataupati, or slap dance. They came out with so much energy and had EVERYONE in the audience laughing and cheering. It was so fun to watch them dance!

The show ended on a high note with our Primary performing a Samoan Sasa. I'm not sure if a single one of them was doing the same thing at any given time, but they were absolutely adorable and totally stole the show.

When the dancing came to an end, our handsome emcee got back on stage, thanked all who participated, and announced our closing song and prayer.

The closing song was performed by our fearless young woman, Amy Hickenlooper. She played the guitar and sang the Hawaiian Hymn, Kanakawaiwai.

When all was said and done, we ended up with one of the most successful activities our ward has ever had. We estimated somewhere between 200 and 250 people in attendance and a very large number of those people were NOT ward members. But more importantly, our entire ward was united through this massive undertaking. Thank you again to all who helped watch our girls while we were dancing, and who helped with costumes, food, decorating, running the stage and makeup, and those who took pictures and video, who helped teach and organize, or who in any way helped us to pull off this magnificent event. It was worth every second of your hard work!


Kevin Hanks said...

What a fun party! Everyone did really well and danced their hearts out! One lesson I learned: it's tough being the emcee AND dancing every other dance the whole night. I slept for ten straight hours that night!!

Beccarigg said...

Okay I totally have tears in my eyes after reading this and seeing all these pictures. This is so amazing Omi, I am seriously just blown away and can't imagine how much work it must've taken to pull something so incredible off like that. It was really touching to see how everyone in your ward participated. I definitely got a little choked up seeing the primary kids dancing too. So precious : ) I want you to come do that for my ward! That's just an experience of a lifetime that no one will ever ever forget!

Heidi said...

AMAZING. You guys did an incredible job! I'm speechless.

Carl Uda said...

Hi Naomi,
You and Kevin are awesome. I wish you were in our ward so you could do the same here. I know how much work goes into doing the costumes and teaching the dances. We've seen it over the years. :) Congratulations on a great ward party. Ours is coming up on Aug.6th, but our family is going to your cousin's, Sean Beardsley's, wedding reception at the same time. Maybe they'll be able to change the date.


Jennie said...

What can I say but that I'm so impressed by you both for all your hard work, time, and talents! Omi, I know you've been thinking and praying about this for months and I'm glad that it turned out well because you deserve it :) Love you guys so much and can't wait to see you in a few days!!

Uda-007 said...

Congrats again guys. I'm so happy that it worked out for you so well. I knew if anyone could pull off being emcee and dancer it would be Kevin. Love ya guys tons and can't wait to see you Saturday.

Sid and Kelli said...

What a night and how great for the whole ward to participate! Something you will never forget and hopefully carry on in tradition every year!

Janna and Tyler said...

HOLY MOLY! That looks like it was amazing! Nice work you two!

Sarah said...

Naomi and Kevin...you never cease to amaze me. What an awesome luau. I'm going to have to call you sometime and pick your brain. I'd love to do something like this for our ward, but don't know if I could pull it off like you did. Great job.