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Members of the Ewalue Club practice a traditional Hawaiian dance, the hula, for their upcoming Luau on April 19th. (Photo/Ashley Garcia) 
Members of the Ewalue Club practice a traditional Hawaiian dance, the hula, for their upcoming Luau on April 19th. (Photo/Ashley Garcia) 

From Hawaii to UNLV: Club to Host Food and Dance on April 19

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Her presence commands immediate attention even though she is only 5 feet tall. A group of men face her and simply know practice is about to begin. To refresh their memory, Peyton Coronas has them review what they learned last week. “Don’t make me look bad,” Coronas says to them playfully. They laugh while falling into their positions. Music fills the room and they begin to dance.

On April 19, the ‘Ewalu Club, a Hawaiian-culture-oriented organization at UNLV, will have its third-annual Luau in the Student Union ballroom. Coronas and her team have been rehearsing for their scheduled performance.

Traditionally, a Luau is an event where people from different communities gather to not only celebrate, but get a taste of the Hawaiian culture.  Event coordinator Naihe Paikai said this is a concept she wants to share with the UNLV community. This year’s Luau is set to begin at 4p.m. with a traditional Hawaiian feast that will include Kalua pig and long rice.

Although the dishes aim to leave attendees’ stomachs full, the performances that will follow are the main attractions.

Dances, stemming from the Polynesian culture and a more prominent Hula dance, will be performed.

For Hawaiians, the Hula is not just a dance; it is an artistic representation of the island itself. Raised in the Hawaiian culture on the island of O’ahu, dancer Leilani Canapino finds a deeper connection to the dance than what is presented on the surface.

“The movements represent the message of the song and in essence tell a story,” Canapino said.  “As a dancer I can only hope to convey that story to everyone watching.”

As the event approaches, final preparations are being conducted, with practices being held twice a week. In addition to fundraising, making decorations and sleepless nights, members are going to great lengths to ensure this is their best Luau to date.

Hawaii consists of eight major islands and its residents have made their migration’s impact felt in Las Vegas.

The city has developed a large and diverse Hawaiian population as many islanders have made this city their home.  This growing population has transferred to UNLV, adding to the diversity already seen on campus.

The ‘Ewalu Club, which was first introduced in 2005, is one of the largest clubs on campus. It has garnered attention as well as recognition. It serves as a place where students can be connected to their culture—a home away from home.

Club President Scott Miyake spoke about his role as a top-position member.

“We have rebuilt this organization from the ground up. We are great in our numbers and more importantly we have proven to be strong,” Miyake said.

Having strength in numbers, this diverse group of students aims to live up to the principles the Hawaiian culture was founded on: hard work and dedication.

“I see great things for this club,” former-club president Tanner Chee said. “But more importantly I want this club to be successful.”

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