Cabaret: Lei Ho’oheno

By Anh Ta

As preparations for Cabaret 2015 get into full swing for both organizers and performers, we managed to catch a short chat with junior Chelsey Choy, a Cabaret 2015 performer. For her third year performing, Choy is going with a traditional Hawaiian performance titled “Lei Ho’oheno,” a solo dance with live music. With its intimate setting, the performance promises to bring a unique highlight to the wide array of cultural showcases in Cabaret.

A dancer and a performer, dance has always been a big part of Choy’s background.

“When I dance, it is a way for me to express my feelings to an audience,” she said. ”All dance moves have a meaning to it and you are telling a story through dance.”

As such, she has been a part of Cabaret since her freshman year. In her sophomore year, Choy introduced the traditional Hawaiian dance form of Hula to the show, for the first time.

“It was a group performance,” she reminisced. “Everyone really enjoyed it.” Continuing this success, she is bringing Hula to Cabaret once again, but in a different form of a more stripped down and intimate performance.

As a part of her family’s fifth-generation living in Hawaii, Choy really enjoys Hula, not only as a unique dance genre, but also as form of emotional and self-expression.

“The different thing about hula is, there is a lot of hip actions and coordination with your hands,” she elaborated. “It is basically your whole body moving with a lot of fluidity … I also enjoy the music and the language it is spoken in, as it is very lyrical and poetic.”

The uniqueness of hula makes it really interesting, but at the same time, it can be somewhat difficult for non-Hawaiians to grasp the essence of it. The group performance in Cabaret 2014 was a chance for Choy to experience first-hand the diversity of cultures that Lawrentians from all over the world bring to campus.

“The biggest challenge for me was to teach people to move their hips and hands at the same time,” Choy reflected. “I realized that not everyone moved the way I was taught to move. There are a lot of accents to the dance that you cannot teach.”

This year, Choy is performing with a fellow Hawaiian and freshman Sam Alika Bader. They look forward to putting on an authentic and heartfelt performance.

A big fan and veteran performer of Cabaret, Choy appreciates the different avenues the show offers for cultural display, not only through songs and dances, but also through the varying fashions.

“Everyone has their own way of learning about cultures,” she said. “I am a visual learner, so I learn through movements and mimicking. Someone else might enjoy reading about cultures.” The various avenues of expression will not only add dimensions to the cultural presentation, but will also allow Lawrentians to learn in their own ways.

“Lei Ho’oheno” is a performance to watch out for in this year’s Cabaret, alongside many other cultural showcases. These performances remind us of the interconnectedness of our world today. With this in mind, Choy said, “Regardless of whether you are a domestic or international student, you are international wherever you go.”