My name is Cassidy “Mio” Y. Estrada. I am a member of the Halau Hula (group/hula school), Alana’ia, on the island of Saipan. As a member of Alana’ia, it is my kuleana (duty/responsibility) to carry with great respect and honor, the knowledge of hula that is shared with us by our kumus (teachers); Kumu Ed and Kumu Malia Johnson. It is through our hand gestures, smiles, body movements, and how we live our daily lives, even outside of the halau, that one can witness the great values that many of us haumanas (students) have learned. I began my journey as a hula performer 10 years ago as a really young keiki (child). I immediately fell in love with hula then, and my passion for it continues to grow even greater today.
Hula and Halau Alana’ia are important parts of my life, not just as the activities or the sense ohana, but for all the great life lessons they provide. For example, as the halau’s name suggests, Alana’ia, meaning, to rise up, we the Haumana must rise up and endure and overcome whenever we are presented with new challenges in life just as we are to Alana’ia when new dances are introduced or whenever we feel nervous before a performance. Another great lesson that hula as taught me is pono, or as the Chamorro called it in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, inafa’maolek, or to make everything right. In hula, in order to properly tell a story and to share a genuine smile, the presenter, or in this case the hula dancer, must be in a pono state of being.
Hula has had a big impact in my life, it’s taught me to be calm and gentle to everything and everyone. The dances are never fast and they are always peaceful, emotional, and graceful.
I will continue to do what I love and dance hula for as long as I can, hoping that those watching hula too can find their sense of pono.