By Leland Kim
TORRANCE, California (KHNL) - It's an art form that's synonymous with Hawaii...hula. And it's a way for Hawaiians on the mainland to stay connected with their roots.
The familiar sights and sounds of hula, it's as old as the Hawaiian culture itself, but this Halau isn't in Hawaii. It's in Southern California.
"It's kind of like bringing a wedge of Hawaii and placing it right in the middle of California," said Michael Kekaimoku Yoshikawa.
Yoshikawa runs Kekaiulu Hula Studio in Torrance, California. Moku, as he is known, moved from Hawaii to Los Angeles two years ago. He quickly found a community hungry to learn hula.
"There's a saying that says hula is life, and it does. It becomes a part of your life."
But hula isn't the only thing this studio teaches. Students say they learn about the true meaning of Ohana. Things like respect, humility and responsibility. For these students, this group is also a link to the Hawaii they miss so much.
"Being a part of Kekaiulu Hula Studio puts me around other Hawaiians and Polynesians and so it's very important for me to be here, said hula student Rosie Pulido
Puni Patrick adds "we know once we walk through those doors, we're going to be accepted, we're going to be loved, we're going to grow."
Grow, thrive and spread aloha on the mainland.
"We're continuing here, too. And where we place our feet, so is Hawaii."
So Moku teaches, under the watchful eyes of his Kumu hula.