January 8th, 2010





Susan’s love of hula was apparent at a very early age.  She was familiar with Hawaiian music from the sixties that were favourites of her mother’s such as Mahi Beamer and Alfred Apaka and was inspired by an aunt who was taught the hula while living in Honolulu in 1938.  She immediately excelled in the dance taught by her first teacher, Darcelle Chan, a neighbour in Burnaby. Her education continued when she attended the Josie Debaat studio for twelve more years, entering the Surrey Festival every year. During that time, in 1993, she travelled with the DeBaat group to Oahu where they entered in the World Invitational Hula Festival/Competition at the Blaisdell Centre in Honolulu.  This experience was invaluable.  Over the next few years Susan was fortunate to take workshops from kumu hula such as Leialoha Amina, Uncle George Naope, Willie Pulama, Mapuana De Silva, Robert Cazimero, Manu Boyd, Vicky Holt Takamine, Ku’ulei Gumapac, Ray Fonseca, Sonny Ching, Mahealani Uchiyama, Chinky Mahoe, Tuti Kanahele, Kealoha Kalama, Buddy Carson, Coline Aiu, Auntie Manu Lono, Blaine Kamalani Kia, Kumu Hina and more.

She and her cousin, Ashley O’Hara, were special guest performers at Germaine’s Luau on O’ahu in the summer of 2002.  Susan has enjoyed dancing casually with many local Hawaiian entertainers while in the islands including her favorite, the late Auntie Genoa Keawe.

In 2000, Susan opened the Paradise of Polynesia Dance Studio in the Cloverdale area of Surrey.  Her students have competed in the Pacific West Performing Arts Festival in Burnaby for several years as well as entering Festival Polynesia in Tsawassen for the first time in 2006.  They perform at various functions in the Lower Mainland throughout the year including the Cloverdale Rodeo and parade, multicultural community events, backyard luaus and special events, seniors homes, banquets and the PNE.

Susan looks forward to having her students excel physically and spiritually through the art of hula and other dances of Polynesia.