Even sitting down, you can experience the hula spirit

From the Ship

Hsueh Yu-huai: Discovering hula magic with Tina

Sep 25, 2023

Hsueh Yu-huai, Tina, the founder and choreographer of Mele HULA, joined Peace Boat’s 115th global voyage from Yokohama, Japan to the beautiful shores of Honolulu, Hawaii. Her passion for hula and presence onboard was nothing short of extraordinary. Tina was joined by her daughter Liu Hsuan-chen, Jennifer, who has specialized in Indian traditional dance as well as Bollywood dance. Their enchanting performance during the voyage kick-off event delighted participants, and their shared love for dance, which shaped their entire time on board, was truly inspiring.

The deeper meaning of hula

In Tina’s first lecture, titled “Feeling that Hula Embrace”, attendees were introduced to the fundamentals of Hula dance and its underlying cultural backgrounds. Tina covered a wide range of topics, from the meaning of hula to its steps, sign language, musical instruments, and costumes. With the three elements of hula being Heart, Smile, and Emotion, Tina embodied the spirit of hula flawlessly. Her infectious smile that brightened the room, and her deep emotional resonance with Hawaiian culture left a lasting impression on all who attended. As participants learned the art of hula steps and sign language while dancing, the experience was not only educational but also incredibly enjoyable. 

During the second lecture, “My beloved Hawaii: Nurturing Hula through Nature and Culture”, Tina delved deeper into Hawaii’s attractions, drawing on her expertise and passion for the different islands of Hawaii. Attendees learned about must-see spots, native Hawaiian tribes, and the intricates of the hula sign language. Her lecture concluded with a captivating tale of Hawaiian mythology, a favorite of Tina’s, featuring the volcano goddess PELE and the couple Oh l’a and Lehua. During the epic finale, Tina showcased the beauty of hula, while Jennifer illuminated the stage with her Indian dance skills, highlighting the similarities and differences between the two art forms.The enthusiasm even led to Peace Boat staff joining in! 

Tina and Jennifer showcasing similarities and differences between hula and Indian danceShowcasing similarities and differences between hula and Indian dance

In addition to the lectures, attendees had the privilege of participating in dance workshops where they could interact more closely with Tina. With music like ”Hukilau Song” and “Rose, Rose, I Love You,” Tina’s passionate teaching made these sessions fun and engaging, and many left the workshop eager to further improve their hula skills. Highlighting that the true spirit of hula comes from the joy and happiness we carry inside, not from wearing the perfect costume or from dancing without making mistakes, the workshops culminated in a grand colorful performance under the full moon where 50 participants danced alongside Tina, creating a fantastic “aloha” atmosphere.

Sunset hula workshopsSunset hula workshops

Throughout her time onboard, Tina’s boundless energy and captivating smile left a lasting impact. Her positivity and power were contagious, and she became a star in the eyes of everyone on Peace Boat. From taking photos with attendees to lighting up every room she entered, Tina’s presence made the voyage unforgettable for all.

Tina with her infectious smile