Hawaiians have been part of B.C. history as long as there has been a British Columbia, and even before.
About two dozen Hawaiians arrived to work in the fur trade in 1811.
In 1829, the Hudson's Bay Company sent an agent to Honolulu to recruit men on two- and three-year contracts.
Virtually every Pacific northwest fur trading post had Hawaiians. Their influence continues to resonate today, even in place names.
Kanaka Bar and Kanaka Creek, across the Fraser River from Langley, were sites the HBC Hawaiian employees lived in the 1820s. (Kanaka is the Hawaiian word for man.)
Along with the Hawaiians came their culture, including dance.
In the Lower Mainland alone, there are at least seven large dance studios devoted to Hawaiian and Polynesian dance, including one in Aldergrove run by Carol Antonsen.
"Our desire is really to keep things as traditional as possible," she said.
Her students live mostly in Langley and Cloverdale, although some come from as far as White Rock and Abbotsford to dance.
The studio has about 45 Polynesian dancers. The youngest member is three while the adult members are 50-plus.
They have a unique venue. From the dance studio, they can look out over Antonsen's farm and see the family dairy operation.
Several of the dancers recently competed in the World Invitational Hula Festival or E Ho`i Mai I Ka Piko Hula. The studio represented Canada and finished fourth of six international competitors.
In addition to receiving high marks and praise for their dancing, there were marks for their authentic costumes and accessories. The competitors spend a great deal of effort making sure their regalia is accurate.
"We were assisted in locating foliage from a plantation and taught how to make the leis and accessories that complemented our costumes," Antonsen said.
Despite being a teacher, she has been training under a Hawaiian dance master for several years to continually add to her skills.
When the group was there, the dance master bestowed a special name on the studio, Halau Hula O Ka Poli Mehana `O Lehua. Roughly translated, it means "the warmth of Lehua of the heart. All of the haumana/students reside as the flower Lehua and provide the warmth for Carol (Ka Poli's) heart. She is the favourite of the heart because she is the one that is on top. The haumana/students are the lehua that favours her."
Antonsen was given the name Ka Poli Mehana Makamae (It means the favourite warmth of the heart. What keeps her compassionate is the warmth of hula and she holds it very dear to her heart).
"Their culture is such that a name is given and it always has poetic reference in it," Antonsen explained.
As a teacher, Antonsen pays special attention to the dance moves because they all hold special meaning. Nature and human's role in it figure prominently in Polynesian dance.
The dance school is holding a special spring dance revue on Saturday, March 28 at the Abby Arts Centre.
Antonsen said the performance is at an Abbotsford venue because it was the closest one large enough.
Audiences will see not only Hawaiian dance, but also the faster-paced style of Tahitian dance as well as the unique style from New Zealand.
By enjoying the dancing, audience members will also be helping children. Partial proceeds from the evening will go to the BC Children's Hospital.
"We just wanted to do something that benefited the community as well," Antonsen explained.