Meet Gloria Napualani Kalamalamakailialoha Fujii Nahalea.
Her name means “full of life or vivaciousness,” and she has lived up to it as a teacher of hula, ukulele and Tahitian dance classes around the globe for over 40 years. She opened a new studio on Purdy Drive this summer.
Born in Waialua, Oahu, Gloria first came to this state to study at the University of Washington. While there, she mentored with Kumu Hula Master George Naope, founder of the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, and traveled with the Aloha Airlines-Pleasant Hawai’ian Holidays Tour Company throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Gloria and her husband Bill, a television and video producer, have lived in the Seattle area with their daughter Megan for the last 16 years.
Vicki Nokleby, a dancing student who traveled to Gloria’s classes in Seattle for four years, asked if she’d ever consider teaching in the Gig Harbor area. The reply was yes, if certain requirements were met.
Nokleby, a yoga teacher, went to work finding a place to teach and a new home for the Nahalea family. They have lived in the Glencove area for almost two years now.
“It’s beautiful,” Gloria said about her view across the water to Raft Island and Mount Rainier. She loves the new location in Purdy because of the beach and water.
“It reminds us of Hawai’i,” she said.
Gloria and her family and students have spent the summer participating in competitions, luaus and other gatherings, including the recent tribal canoe journey at Nisqually. She has participated in cultural heritage activities in Seattle schools and hopes to continue here. She loves working with children and encouraging them to be involved in helping others. Many of her programs charge the cost of a donation for the food bank or charities of choice.
“For several decades, I’ve been blessed to teach some of the finest dancers from ages 4 to 94,” she said. One program she has taught in various senior living centers encouraged the older generation to experience hula as alternative therapy for high blood pressure issues.
“It’s holistic, including mental, social, cultural and spiritual experiences,” she said, “and the music soothes the soul.”
There are currently 10 adult students at the Purdy location without any real promotion except by word-of-mouth. There are a dozen in the ages 5 to 14 class.
Classes include basic Hula-Kahiko (ancient Hawai’ian dance), basic Tahitian-Ote’a (traditional), ‘Aparima (central hand mimics) and basic Maori dancing, plus private coaching and competitive coaching. Ukulele and yoga classes are also available.
For more information, call or text 206-484-2511