Category Archives: Meet The (818) Features

Sharing The Polynesian Culture in the San Fernando Valley

Lyn-Del Laua’e Pedersen, owner and director of Aloha Hula Studio, shares the Polynesian culture through teaching Hula and Ori Tahiti at her Granada Hills studio. Following in the footsteps of her ohana, she started dancing at the age of 5, and became a professional dance with 45 years of experience. Today, she gives us a glimpse of her story: how she started teaching hula in the San Fernando Valley, favorite moments, and navigating through the challenge of this pandemic.

What motivated you to open a hula dance studio in the San Fernando Valley?

It was actually my Aunty Ilima Lei Russel and  Uncle Charlie Kiaha who encouraged me to start teaching as they saw a need and interest out here in the San Fernando Valley. It was very important to my Aunty Ilima that I help to perpetuate and share our family culture and so she gave me that “kuleana” (responsibility) .  Back in 2006, I started teaching out of my home and in 2007, I opened my dance studio in Granada Hills where I  teach with my sons Taimane and Kaikea. They now share in this responsibility.

What challenges did you encounter when you first opened your school? 

One of our main challenges would be how some people come with an idea in their head of what they “think it is”. It is my responsibility to help them understand that this is about a culture and not just about putting on a pretty costume and shaking your hips. Most of the time, they love learning about the culture and how it goes hand in hand with dancing.  If they are here for the wrong reason, we try to encourage them to maybe move on to something else.   

In more than a decade of being teaching hula at your studio, what has been the best and most memorable performance/s? 

There are so many! Each Ho’ike (recital) over the years has been special–even our first few that we did at school auditoriums.  But the one that stands out as my most memorable would be the year we did our first BIG stage performance at the Ford Amphitheatre in 2012. We have done bigger venues than the Ford since then but there has been nothing to top the atmosphere and the beauty of performing on that outdoor stage.  We always say we want to do the Ford one more time. Everything about that particular night was magical! 

How does the Polynesian culture resonate with today’s youth as seen in your students? 

We have students who are Polynesian as well as students from many differnt cultures. I try to teach as I was taught , to be respectful, and that to be good at something requires commitment and disipline. I have found that most of our students are willing to put in that commitment and discipline. They are very respectful and excited to be a part of preserving and perpetuating the Polynesian Culture.   

With the pandemic, what challenges have you encountered with teaching online vs. in person?  

For teaching, when the students are not there in studio, I can not really see if they are doing it correctly. It is hard to make necessary corrections.  So, the technique can suffer.  Online learning for some is harder to learn as it is not the same as having personal interaction as well as the “mana” energy of their hula sisters/brothers next to them to encourage, inspire and support. I lost about half of my students after we went online. The other half  were happy that we continued classes on line as it really helped them get through this time.  For the adults, it was easier than it was for the children.

What plans do you have for the studio with everything starting to re-open? 

We have a pretty big wait list of new students who are interested. I will be starting new classes in June. I am happy to say that most of the students who took a break are very excited to come back. I anticipate we will be very busy making up for lost time.  Normally, during the summer months, we are participating in various festivals. We know it will be a slow summer as things start to open back up but we will start to prepare for upcoming opportunities to perform.  We will continue to “Imua” to move forward , to encourage each other to grow into a deeper appreciation of all Polynesian cultures.

Celebrating Year 2

Time sure flies! As Meet The (818) celebrates its second anniversary, I’d like to say thank you for your continued support for this little enterprise of mine. I am truly grateful for all the stories I got to tell and everyone I got to meet the past two years. Sharing your stories and seeing you all work so hard to bring your dreams into reality is truly inspirational, especially this past year. As heartbreaking as it was to see some of our local businesses struggle and eventually close its doors, it was also awe-inspiring to see our community pull together, help each other out and adapt to our current situation. That resiliency and pulling through as a community is just one of the many reasons I love living in and being apart of the San Fernando Valley community.

As a 16 year old who migrated to Burbank, CA in the late 90s, I’ve enjoyed to seeing all the growth and development in the San Fernando Valley this past couple of decades. All the local places I frequented growing up will always hold a special place in my heart but in the same token, I always love discovering new local businesses and supporting local businesses owners. Needles to say, my list of favorite places (which goes beyond local restaurants) has grown quite a bit over the years. (That list, of course, also extends outside of the valley but that’s a story for another time…).

The best thing about living in the San Fernando Valley, apart from the diversity of each city, is the possibility of creating your own dream and living it—be it opening a coffee shop or sharing your art on a community wall or having a safe haven to just de-stress for a couple of hours. At the beginning of this journey, someone asked me what the end game was for Meet The (818), at that time, I joked around and said it was to eventually get an interview with Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. Maybe? Who knows? Even pondering on the question now, I really don’t have a serious answer. I’m just a girl with a blog and a social media account with a love for hearing stories, telling stories, and supporting the area code she grew up in. And that’ll do for now.

Cheers to year two! Thank you for all your support. If you have a story to share, just send me a message and I’ll be more than happy to listen and share.

Take care and stay safe, everyone! Live. Love. Local Meet The (818).

Farewell, 2020. Hello, 2021.

In early February 2020, the last event I attended and covered was the bridal expo at Castaway in Burbank. I remember going around with my handy dandy camera, snapping away happily, talking with small business owners, and thinking that this was going to an amazing year. There were already some rumblings about the pandemic but it lacked any sense of urgency back then. They always say hindsight is 2020. Oh, the irony of it all.

Since then, it’s been a crazy roller coaster ride for every single one of us. We’ve all suffered losses in one form or another; may it be a loved one, a friend, a business, a job. Challenging doesn’t even come close to describing 2020. But despite all this, the one thing that never ceases to amaze me is the resilience of the people and the communities that make up the San Fernando Valley. I’ve seen a lot of businesses think outside of the box to just roll with the ever changing demands and to keep their dreams alive. I’ve seen people donate their time and goods to food bank or toy/supply drive-thrus just to help out those of us that may need it. I’ve seen our frontline and essential workers just roll up their sleeves and get to work just so our community can thrive. There are even those who’ve kept the holiday spirit going with holiday displays at their homes; and even those who’ve created drive-thru experiences just so people can keep the magic of the holidays alive. There have been go fund me pages created just to save small businesses.

2020 has been a tough year but if there is one thing this year has shown me, it’s when the chips are down, support from the community will always be there to give what they can, especially to those who need it the most. I am holding on to the hope of a better year in 2021. May it see an end to this pandemic or at least bring it to manageable levels. I hold on to the hope of being able to gather, explore, and “talk stories” with each other. Until then, stay strong, stay safe. Take care of one another and just forge on.

Here’s to the promise of a better year.


« Older Entries Recent Entries »