September 28, 2017

Mirasol's New "Hulaistic" Treatment Program

Leiola Aquino Galla's home on the outskirts of Tucson is awash in color. There are flowers everywhere and the living room studio is lined with mirrors and adorned with colorful ceramic bowls and musical instruments made from gourds. Nearby is a workshop where bolts of Hawaiian fabric are stacked floor to ceiling. On a Thursday morning in late September, that's where I found Mirasol founder Jeanne Rust and Admissions Counselor Carol Magee, unrolling yards and yards of colorful fabric ... to make 16 hula skirts for Mirasol clients!

Jeanne Rust sewing

Carol and Leiola measure out four yards of fabric for each skirt.

Leiola is a kumu hula (Hawaiian dance master) hula master, born on O'ahu, and raised in the Hawaiian culture, hula, arts, dancing, singing and chanting. She studied under several reknowned kumu hula, and in 1996 she founded the Leiola Hula Halau school of hula in Tucson.

She offers classes for beginners as well as experienced hula dancers, and her halau provides entertainment at events and holiday celebrations. Beginning in October, Leiola will begin teaching hula at Mirasol's adult residential and PHP "day" programs.

It all started when Carol Magee, a long-time resident of Hawaii and former hula dancer, saw photos of the Leiola Hula Halau at a gallery in Tucson.

Jeanne Rust sewing

Jeanne Rust at the sewing machine.

"The next thing I knew," says Jeanne, "I got a call from Carol, and she made arrangements for us to go to hula. I had no idea what to expect, and I was surprised to discover that hula really makes a subtle difference. It's impossible to do this healing, graceful form of dance and not be firmly anchored in your body. I think of it as 'going home again.'"

What's a hula class like? Leiola and Carol demonstrate!

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