Local Polynesian dance group represents SCV in Hawaii competition

Students from the Polynesian dance group Kalakeke, of SCV, practice Friday afternoon at the Christ Lutheran Church. Eddy Martinez/The Signal.

Kalakeke Pacific Island Dance Co. ranked high at a recent Tahitian dance competition in Hawaii, proudly representing the Santa Clarita Valley.

The group, with class locations all over the SCV, faced over 20 competitors from around the world on the island of Kauai earlier this month.

Kalakeke managed to bring home two awards in the solo dances (third place in the teen girl category and second place in the 40-and-above men’s division) and third in group competitions known as Aparima and Ote’a, which are dances with Tahitian songs and drumming.

“It was an honor to represent Santa Clarita and to be one of two groups to represent the mainland at this competition through dance,” said instructor Tyana Farrell.

Kalakeke competes in Hawaii and wins in multiple dance categories, proudly representing the SCV.
Photo by Janice Saralde

This isn’t the first time the company has earned awards. Since its founding 11 years ago, Kalakeke has won awards in multiple categories in competitions across California and Hawaii.

But despite their growing number of awards, members of the dance company said they’re most proud of their growing family.

“The (Polynesian) culture is all about family,” said Farrell. “Most of the people in our group, we hang out a lot, not just in classes but outside, too. We are now 74 people. We want to grow our family.”

Farrell added that part of what helps the group grow is that a parent doesn’t just enroll their daughter or son; instead, the “moms, sisters and dads join. They dance and play drums and others join us for competitions in Hawaii and help make our costumes.”

Gladys Farrell, owner and director of the dance company, said, “It’s a family affair.”

Kalakeke was started in Castaic in December 2007 by the Farrell family with one core goal in mind: “to perpetuate the Pacific Islander dance and music culture in the SCV,” said Tyana.

Today, with a growing number of participants of all ages and ethnicities, Kalakeke continues to offer basic steps and dances from the islands of Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa and New Zealand for anyone as young as 5 years old. The company also provides entertainment and organizes multiple events in the SCV, including the Te Mana Ori Tahitian Solo Competition and the Santa Clarita Pacific Islander Festival.

Kalakeke is scheduled to host an open house this week, offering free hula and Tahitian dance classes for children and adults. A beginners class for those 5 through 11 years old is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Wednesday, followed by a second one at 5 p.m. for teens and adults, at William S. Hart Hall in Newhall. The same classes are scheduled to take place at 5 and 6 p.m. Thursday at the Sanctuary Church in Canyon Country.

For more information about these events and others visit scvhula.com.

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