Dancers visit Tai­wan

Serve Daily - - INSIDE - By Deb­o­rah Good­man for Serve Daily

Three young Springville res­i­dents par- tic­i­pated in a dance group in­vited by the Cul­tural Af­fairs Bureau of Tai­wan to per- form in July at the largest folk fes­ti­val in Asia. The pres­ti­gious and se­lec­tive Yi- Lan In­ter­na­tional Chil­dren’s Folk Festi- val hosted the group—called Ahuna Oha- na—from July 6 - 18.

Start­ing in Jan­uary of this year, Kekai, Emma, and Kekoa Palmer, chil­dren of Brett and Ui­lani Palmer of Springville, be­gan learn­ing and prac­tic­ing the dances us­ing in­struc­tional videos sent by Ui­lani’s un­cle Joe Ahuna, the founder of the per- form­ing group, Ahuna Ohana.

At the end of May, the Palmers flew to Hawaii for an in­ten­sive re­hearsal sched- ule to pre­pare for the trip. Af­ter a week of fi­nal prepa­ra­tions, they left for Tai­wan, where they per­formed Maori, Hawai­ian, Tahi­tian, Samoan, Navajo, and New Zea- lan­der dances.

Nine par­ent chap­er­ones, eigh­teen per- for­m­ers (ages seven to six­teen), Ahuna, his brother Kekoa, and his wife, Jan­ice, made the trip. It was a group ef­fort, and Jan­ice made eigh­teen cos­tumes for the chil­dren.

Be­cause Yi­lan, which is three hours away from Taipei, is more of a ru­ral area and due to the busy re­hearsal and per­for- mance sched­ule, there wasn’t time for a lot of sight­see­ing.

“It was a lot of work. This wasn’t a Dis­ney­land-type of trip,” says Ui­lani. How­ever, they did get to take a cal­ligra- phy class, visit a lo­cal school, and tour a green onion farm.

“The kids loved it. It was a big eye-opener for them,” says Ui­lani. They

learned the value of their tal­ents in mu­sic and dance. They also en­joyed get­ting to know their sec­ond cousins and the stu- dents in their dorm from Rus­sian, Czech Repub­lic, Poland and Columbia.

The Palmer chil­dren’s grand­mother, Iwalani Ahuna-Cur­ran, who also helped them learn the dances, says, “There was a lot of fo­cus on cul­ture, stage pres­ence, and dis­ci­pline.”

Ui­lani says the kids also learned “to keep go­ing and to push them­selves if they felt like giv­ing up.”

Ahuna, a res­i­dent of a Ka­neohe, Ha- waii, has been spread­ing good­will through mu­sic and dance his en­tire adult life. The group be­gan with Ahuna, his wife, Jan­ice, and their six kids, and has since grown to in­clude ten grand­chil­dren, as well as eight great nieces and neph­ews.

His vi­sion be­gan in the late 1970s when he per­formed with BYU’s Young Am­bas- sadors.

Ahuna, who is largely self-taught in the fire knife dance and the ukulele, at- trib­utes the group’s suc­cess to a de­sire to serve the world as a fam­ily. Th­ese ex­peri- ences in­still an at­ti­tude of “kahiau.” Ahu- na ex­plains that “‘kahiau’ means if you learn some­thing, you share it with those around you with­out ex­pect­ing any­thing in re­turn.”

One thing that makes this per­form­ing group so dif­fer­ent from oth­ers is that it’s a fam­ily group—and they never charge money for the per­for­mances they give.

Photo: Ui­lani Palmer­learned

The Palmer Chil­dren, Kekai, Emma and Kekoa.

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