For some members of the Island Sotheby’s International Realty team, hula is still very much a part of daily life - a way they can continue to preserve and celebrate their community’s culture and history.
Every member of Island Sotheby’s International Realty’s administrative team and several agents have at some point in their lives danced hula - or still do. Ranging from comptroller Patti Schumacher to office administrator Hulali Pokipala to real estate agent Kristen Goo, Island Sotheby's team members from across Maui have made hula an integral part of their lives. Take Georgianna Tamayose, the real estate firm’s president, for example.
“I started dancing hula at the age of 9,” explained Tamayose. “I tried different sports and was not an athlete so my parent’s last resort was hula. But I loved it and found that I was a natural hula dancer.”
Nanette Salcedo, Thelma Garso-Pacheco, Patty Schumacher and Georgie Tamayose perform a Hula at the Island Sotheby's International Realty Holiday Event.
Tamayose studied under Kumu Hula Iola Balubar, who in 1975 started her halau out of her garage. After joining that halau, Tamayose went on to perform all across Maui and the mainland, even choreographing and designing costumes for the Hawai’i Club’s hula performances while attending Gonzaga University.
“When I hula I always feel like I’m sharing a part of me and my heritage,” said Tamayose. “I can’t help but to smile and make eye contact with the audience; my hope is that they feel what I’m trying to express. I always feel like my best self when I’m in motion and telling a story with my hands.”
Island Sotheby's International Realty operations manager Nanette Salcedo echoed Tamayose:
“Hula for me went beyond dancing on a stage.”
Salcedo started dancing hula at the early age of 3 with the late Auntie Emma Sharpe of the famed Farden family in Lahaina. She wasn’t actually enrolled in the class, but tagged along with her older sister and cousin. From the back of the room, Salcedo would follow along, copying the motions and steps until the kumu asked her to join the line-up. From then on, she danced hula all through high school until she took a break during college. But as soon as she returned to Maui in 1986, she joined Halau Hula Na Maile Ku Honua, which was lead by the late Kumu Hula Cliff Palikumaikalanilewa Ahue.
Nanette and her Kumu after a performance at Kanaka Village in Fort Vancouver, Washington.
“Being a part of the hula community gave me opportunities to participate in and witness important cultural practices and events,” she explained. “We went to Kaho’olawe and helped hapai pohaku to build a Pa in preparation of the ceremonial transfer of the island from the U.S. Navy to the state of Hawaii.”
She continued: “We scraped kukui trees to gather sap used to dye cloths for the reburial of iwi. And we traveled to Western Samoa to share our hula at a Pacific Arts Festival that brought cultural practitioners from island nations across the Pacific. We gave back to our culture because of hula.”
Hula is also in Thelma Garso-Pacheco’s blood, who works as the administrator for the South Maui office. She remembers how beautiful her own mother looked as she danced hula to greet the ships as they arrived to Pearl Harbor on O’ahu. As Garso-Pacheco grew up, she learned with many halaus, most notably from the late Kumu Hula Leina’ala Kalama Heine on O'ahu until finally she moved back to Maui. Years later, she’s still involved with the Hula & Sign Interpretation Ministry Team “Na Koa Laina Mua – Frontline Warriors” at King’s Cathedral Maui.
Thelma dancing hula.
“Hula is the language of the heart, therefore the heartbeat of our culture,” she explained. “It’s the breath of life that is interpreted using your hands, feet, body and expression in your eyes … it creates a vision of the stories of our people and shares them with the world.”
Island Sotheby's International Realty agent Courtney Brown dances hula as a young girl.
But Island Sotheby’s International Realty administrators aren’t the only ones with a connection to hula. Real estate agent Courtney Brown also danced hula as a child under the late Kumu Hula Nina Maxwell. Brown recalls traveling with her halau to Hana to collect Job’s Tears Beads and Palapalai ferns like it was yesterday.
“It was more than dancing,” said Brown. “It was a cultural practice that taught us discipline, how to work together and about our island home.”
Courtney Brown as a child.