Lu'au Preview

Dancers practice for the Lu'au

Students grow closer while preparing for the annual Lu'au at Pacific University.

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“No task is too large when done together,” Kristen Apana ’14 said about the 54th annual Lu'au.
Togetherness is the motto for the production of the 2014 Lu'au, themed “Onipa’a I Ku’u One Hananu”, which translates to “One Foot on the Sand.” The dancers and instructors chose this theme to carry the message of never forgetting where you’re from and always staying rooted in Hawaiian culture.
Apana, along with six other students, were appointed to be members of a Lu'au board that oversaw 35 committees and 21 dances that made up the show. What started with weekly meetings and planning has turned into around-the-clock rehearsals to prepare for opening night.
With a week packed full of fifteen-hour rehersals on top of regular class loads and preparing to welcome the incoming parents, the students find what makes it all worth it in each other.
“The comradery is what makes it so worth it. We all come together and, even though it’s stressful, it’s way more fun,” said Jennifor Tunoa ’14.
Apana said the comradery is something that is incredibly unique to the students involved in Lu'au, especially the students from Hawai'i. She said that when everyone is somewhere isolated from home, they try to stick together and share the culture they love.
Along with the regularly anticipated dances like the fire poi and couple’s dances, Apana said the board made the decision to bring back the instructors dance this year and design a completely new backdrop. 
Most of the performers, including Apana, danced professionally back home. For some, the first experience they had dancing Lu'au was in Oregon. Janelle Del Castillo ’14, said this is her first year performing in Lu'au. She transferred to Pacific in 2013 and said it took a while to build up the courage to perform.
“I’m having so much fun. It’s definitely taken over my life lately,” she said.
The comradery amongst the students involved in Lu'au was not limited to Hawaiian students. As a part of a hula class, the Lu'au features a dance completely open to inexperienced dancers who are not native to Hawai'i or the Lu'au culture.
Kathleen Rohde ’14 said that she found a lot of really friendly people and has loved her experience in the Lu'au.
Along with spectators coming in from the Portland Metro area, Appana said she expects at least 250 parents from Hawai'i to be at the Lu'au. As one of the most anticipated events of the year, stress and nerves are no strangers to the performers.
“For some, it’s their first time performing in front of a large crowd. We just try to focus on what we’re dancing. It’s important to feel what you’re dancing because Hula is about sharing stories,” she said.
The doors open to the extended Pacific community on Saturday with a dinner service from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and the show begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Stoller Center.