As my friend and I searched for interesting activities near the blue jungle gym in Ala Moana Beach Park, we spotted a group of women making dance formations and speaking Chinese. Upon closer investigation, we discovered a happy, healthy dance group.
Judy Wu, dance class coordinator, along with thirty women and her husband, were gathered in the park for a three-hour-long senior dance class on the grass. The group meets every week at the Hawaii Chinese Culture & Education Center, but the senior center was closed for a state holiday. The focus of this free dance group is exercising and celebrating good health and happiness.
Judy Wu is the teacher and choreographer for the group. She writes the articles, takes pictures, and says that the class is like a full-time job that she enjoys. Her husband, Steve Wu, is her biggest supporter. He quietly stood on the side, watching his wife teach the other dancers.
Judy says, “When we come to the park and dance together, it is as if we are bringing ourselves back to our childhood. The beach park is our stage; there is no pressure because we are doing this for our happiness and health. It is not for show.” Judy gives her students her patience and her heart. The dancers kindly shuffled between being interviewed and dancing.
Her dancers smile and get in their formations as she runs back to the table to play the next song. They use their hands to make movements, and later in the performance they use Chinese fans. The colorful fans move together gracefully and the group dances as one.
A regular participant, Kil Dong Koh, joined the dance group because it benefits her physical health. She said, “I have diabetes, so I have to exercise. Dance brings my sugar level down and keeps me slimmer. Ever since I began exercising, my leg cramps have gone away. I also love that this class is free.”
Judy explained that exercise releases the endorphins that make people happy. She doesn’t advertise, but membership has grown from two to thirty-two a year and a half. “This dance class has become a healthy cycle. I believe that whatever you give is what you will get. I have given these students happiness,” Judy smiled and immediately was off to plan the next dance routine. What a wonderful, happy day in the park!