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Polynesian dance club at UC Davis hosting annual lu'au

The club promotes Polynesian culture and lifestyle while acting as a home to those who are tracing back their roots.

DAVIS, Calif. — A club at UC Davis is gearing up to celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month through a celebration of traditional dance. 

Nā Keiki O Hawaiʻi is one of the few clubs at UC Davis that primarily serves the Polynesian community. The main purpose of the club is to promote Polynesian culture and lifestyle through dance. 

"It's just to give kind of a home to those people and promote to many people who don't know about it on campus and in the community," said Elaina Chambers, the hula dance chair for the club. 

Chambers has been dancing for more than 10 years and said dance is a big part of her life. 

"It's one of my biggest passions and something I'm comfortable with," Chambers said. 

Vanessa Calantoc, the president of Nā Keiki O Hawaiʻi, had no previous experience with traditional Polynesian dances before joining the club during her sophomore year. She said she's learned that dance is about more than just learning the movements. 

"The cool thing is that when we learn dances, we are learning the meaning of the movements and you know, that's really cool to connect back to the culture because we're not just dancing, we're telling a story," Calantoc said.

The club is currently asking for help to put on its lū'au event. The lū'au is a traditional Hawaiian celebration consisting of food, live entertainment and more. Today, lū'aus are held to mark celebratory moments, including birthdays and ceremonies. 

This year marks the club's 22nd annual event and the first one that will be in-person since the pandemic. It will feature various cultural dances such as hula and Tahitian dances. 

The event will be on Saturday, May 28 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Richard Brunelle Performance Hall. If you want to help, you can donate to the club's GoFundMe page HERE. Donations will help fund the venue space, decorations and costumes for the event.  

You can also buy tickets HERE

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