One story from my family’s folklore goes like this: As a toddler, before I can remember, which is why I call it “folklore,” I used to stage my own hula pageants in my mom and dadʻs grocery store on Maui. My three older sisters, who were my babysitters, had taught me all of the hula dances that they were learning. So, I was just sharing. I was fortunate to grow up in an environment where dance was a natural part of our family and community. Each weekend seemed to have a wedding, birthday or holiday party, full of dance. My aunts and uncles were the first to get up and jitterbug. They had learned it from the soldiers based on the island during WWII. Often, my Aunty Shirley, who was from Samoa, would perform with her twirling knives in her feather-adorned headdress and skirt.
Later, my sisters would disco to a deejay, and later still, my nieces and nephews would start the latest line dance. Folk dances were always featured entertainment. My sisters would be called (expected) to perform a hula or a Spanish folk dance. Even our church’s youth choir became a Philippine folk dance troupe, which is how I came to learn of the vast richness of my cultural heritage. Though I didn’t have a dance education as it is practiced today—I had neither a designated dance teacher nor a dance class—everyone in my elementary school had to learn and perform a dance for our annual May Day Lei Day celebration. Lucky me, my life was surrounded by dance!
Today, as a member of Luna, I am happily still surrounded by dance during a moment when Luna is experiencing a profound evolution that will expand our ecosystem and community of dance to engage all bodies, regardless of age and ability. At the heart of this change is our relocation to a new, permanent space at 931 Ashby, where we aim to embody a creative spirit of dance education, one that is joyfully experimental, reflective, deep and transformational. Our new home will allow us to investigate and promote a most holistic notion of dance, one that inspires all bodies to join the thrilling possibilities of the art form. From this body-based hub of education, research and creativity, we aspire to find multiple pathways to address global challenges.
We envision our new home at 931 Ashby Avenue as a community dance center, where all bodies are welcome and where any family can make dance a part of their life. The building will be a dance space like no other, where dancers of all ages and abilities can move freely, explore their imaginations, take command of their decision making and creativity. The new Luna studios will be more than just a building, it will be a fulsome, dynamic community of embodied learners, makers and agents of their/our own transformation.
Beyond the elevator, roof, sprung floor and the other brick-and-mortar elements of the renovation, Luna truthfully and most importantly will be about the deepening and expanding relationships of families, friends, peers, collaborators and stakeholders…people. Dancing folks, like you! We can barely wait to see you there.
– John-Mario Sevilla