23ABC Community Connection


Spreading Aloha: Bakersfield dance group shares Polynesian culture and spirit

Family-owned Aloha Entertainment has been bringing appreciation for Hawaiian and Tahitian music and dance to Kern County for over 20 years.
aloha entertainment
Posted at 5:52 PM, May 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-24 23:23:22-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and one Bakersfield group is bringing Hawaiian and Tahitian culture to Kern County. Aloha Entertainment shares and teaches the tradition of storytelling through dance and music.

Aloha Entertainment dance instructor Deziray Lopez says the group created a space that helps her honor her homeland.

"It's my culture and my background, so my family as a tradition, we like to dance hula and Tahitian just to connect with our roots and our culture," said Lopez.

According to Lopez, she and her mother moved to Bakersfield because living in her hometown on the island of Oahu became too expensive.

While they are far away from family, who all still live in Hawaii, Lopez says she visits as often as she can.

"Ever since I was little and having to go back every summer and just try to connect with my culture, it was kind of hard because of how big and crowded the tourism was," said Lopez.

Lopez says her mother tried to educate her on her culture as much as she could, but she thinks a lot of Hawaiian history has been Americanized, making it more difficult for her to connect with her roots while living in Bakersfield.

Lopez says that being a part of this halau, "school" in Hawaiian, gave her the opportunity to learn about the language, food, and traditional dances. Now, she shares her knowledge with others.

Aloha Entertainment dance student Chole Ciorobea says her favorite part of learning to dance is the music, and the arm movements are the part of the dance she likes most.

Aloha Entertainment dance student James Blevins, who goes by Uncle Jim, originally joined the group to play ukulele. He says that his daughters teach and dance with the halau, and it encouraged him to learn the traditional dances, too.

Blevins adds that an organization like this brings together Native Hawaiians and people who love Hawaiian culture. People like Dee Dee Ciorobea, who is a co-director of Aloha Entertainment.

"I'm not actually Hawaiian, but that's what I think is so special about his culture is that it's just a melting pot of different ethnicities that come together to share a passion of really just sharing our aloha," said Ciorobea.

According to Ciorobea, sharing aloha means to spread joy, love, and kindness to others to encourage positivity in the community.

Lopez says she learns something new every time she visits Hawaii, and her hope is to bring that knowledge back to Bakersfield to share the aloha with the community here.

"It makes me educated so I can come back and educate others about my culture just to spread the aloha because of the aloha that's been brought down generations to my family," said Lopez.

For more information about Aloha Entertainment and how they're spreading their aloha in Bakersfield, book a dance performance, or register for dance classes, please visit their website.