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Carson City hula class is a loving, but not yet a living

Pat Patera

Sweats, not grass skirts, sway when students show up Friday nights in Carson City to learn traditional Hawaiian dance at Kaulana Na Pua O Hula.

The name means famous are the flowers (children) of Hula.

The class began a year ago; but the founder moved on and left her legacy to two of the students, Ramona Burgess and Joreen Bates. They recently formed a partnership and hope to grow the small weekly class into a viable business.

The partners estimate they’ll need 50 to 100 students to get a studio and make a living from lessons. For now, the class meets at the Western Nevada Performing Arts studio, located above Java Joe’s coffee house on Carson Street.

And the current student head count is just shy of 15. But those come from all age groups and walks of life: doctors, students, retirees, and stay-at-home moms.

Monthly lessons fees: $40 for ages 13 and over, $30 for ages 7 to 12, $25 for ages 5 to 6, and $20 for ages 2 to 4.

The challenge is getting the word out, via flyers, email, and word of mouth, says Burgess.

Raised in Hawaii, Bates started dancing at age five. “It’s a very loving culture,” she says. “If people can’t go there, the hula could bring Hawaii to them.”

Carson City is a great market for this, says Burgess. “There’s nothing like it here.”