Hawaiian Club Vice President Honors Grandmother Through International Extravaganza


President Crishelle Young and Vice President Salena Honokaupu pose together after their performance. Photo courtesy of Crishelle Young.

Hawaiian Club commemorated its three hula performances at International Extravaganza to the 125th anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom. Hawaiian Club’s vice president, Salena Honokaupu honored the life of her grandmother Linda Honokaupu.

On Friday night the lawn in front of the Sullivan Family Library was transformed into a gathering place of six culture clubs (Indigo Lotus, Filipino Club, Tahitian Club, Micronesian Club, Lumana’i O Samoa the Samoan club and Hawaiian Club). There, each club showcased a performance that reflected its cultural background.

“I think that the audience understood the performance,” said Crishelle Young, president of Hawaiian Club. “We really seemed to take them on an emotional journey. I think everyone has a better understanding of our history here in Hawaii and also are able to see the effects of it even to this day.”

In February, Honokaupu’s grandmother, Linda Nalani Honokaupu, died at 66-years-old from urinary cancer. The 19-year-old Maui resident has been dancing with the club for two years and is majoring in environmental science.  

Honokaupu consulted and looked for guidance and emotional support in Hawaiian Club president, 22-year-old Crishelle Young, a super senior majoring in psychology, and has been dancing for the club for five years.

“She [Honokaupu] actually use to play softball but then she was going through a hard time with her grandmother being sick with cancer,” Young said. “So she actually quit the softball team and focused more on hula because it was her outlet and her way of getting her emotions out, so I knew it was a big part of her life and in order for her to go through the grieving process.”

Young suggested Honokaupu choreograph the final performance of the song “Starting All Over Again” by Israel Kamakawiwoole.

“When she asked me I was very honored,” said Honokaupu. “I even started tearing a little because allowing me to choreograph and express my feelings just warmed my heart and helped me get through what I was going through a lot better.”

Grandmother Linda also danced the hula and would tell Honokaupu to “dance with all your heart.”

Honokaupu explained that she is more of a learner than a teacher, and she was thrilled to be honoring her grandmother’s life. She encountered challenges while choreographing traditional hula dance moves for “Starting All Over Again” because it is not popular to dance the hula to Israel Kamakawiwoole songs.

Young choreographed the first two songs, “Hawaii ‘78” and “E Ala Ē,” also by Israel Kamakawiwoole. Fifteen performers danced in unison to the first song. All were dressed in black except Young, who was portrayed as the queen. She stood out by wearing a white bandeau, an orange skirt and lei hula on her head.

Honokaupu made a wardrobe change for “Starting All Over Again,” from her black dress into a white bandeau on top. To symbolize Grandmother Linda’s favorite color, she wore a blue pau skirt.

As “Starting All Over Again” began, Honokaupu and Young were the only two on stage. Young laid on the ground portraying the dead queen as Honokaupu mourned her death. Honokaupu began to dance the solo she choreographed to honor Grandmother Linda.

“I just kept thinking of how she told me to dance with all my heart and how she has big hopes for me,” Honokaupu said. “When I was dancing ‘Starting All Over Again,’ my heart just opened up to the song.” “I started bawling which went well with what the song was trying to portray, which was being able to come back from all that we’ve been through and being able to start over again.”

Audience members were captivated and sang along.

“The Hawaiian club’s performance was cool,” said Kainoa Saito, a 21-year-old University of Hawaii student. “You don’t really see the hula being danced to Braddah Iz so that was interesting.”

The rest of the Hawaiian Club joined Honokaupu in “Starting All Over Again,” with a wardrobe change into white outfits. The group danced in unison. As the song concluded, Young placed her lei hula onto Honokaupu.

“Being able to dance for Hawaiian Club, it’s not only proud of being Hawaiian but it is also being able to share with others your culture and hula is all about telling your story,” said Honokaupu.