Dancing With Faith
Words: Vina Cristobal | Photos: Jason Perez | Video: Ashley Guzman
Inside the Hypersquad dance studio in Waipahu, Sienna Lalau teaches a hip-hop routine to two eight-year-old girls, to a remix of “Panda” by Desiigner. With an firm-but-fair spirit, she leads and challenges the girls from beginning to end.
It’s hard to believe that the 15-year-old Waipahu junior is an expert in the art of dance. In fact, she’s the youngest choreographer on the island.
Even before birth, Sienna’s parents, Ed and Jeannie, knew that their daughter would be extremely gifted. Ed, a former on-air radio personality in the late 1990s, was the DJ and emcee at several community events, and Jeannie often accompanied him.
“So my dad would have all of these events all the time, and my mom would go with him when she was still pregnant with me,” Sienna explained. “She said because the music was so loud and that she could feel the beat, she felt me kicking in her stomach to the beat. So my parents thought, ‘Okay, maybe it’s a coincidence.’”
It was more than a coincidence. As a child, she started to dance for fun around the house. Noticing her love of dancing, Sienna’s parents enrolled her in a dance class at Hypersquad dance studio, where she has been taking dance classes for 12 years and has since fell in love with it.
In that time span, Sienna also uploaded videos of her dance routines to YouTube, which led her to accumulate more than 20,000 followers on social media. Most of her routines are of the lyrical and contemporary genres, which allow her to fully express her emotions and to connect with her audience.
She participated in several competitions and events, including the World of Dance, and had the opportunity to dance alongside Will “WillDaBeast” Adams, a Los Angeles-based hip-hop dancer and choreographer.
Sienna was also widely praised by her mentors of the acclaimed dance troupe Hype 5-0, who competed in the fifth season of the MTV hit show “America’s Best Dance Crew.”
“I’ve never seen a girl so passionate and dedicated about something,” said Josh ‘Hazmat’ Ulep, one of Sienna’s mentors and a member of the Hype 5-0 crew, in a video about Sienna’s dancing skills. “She is the total package.”
To share the stage with one of Hawaii’s well-known dance crews is an honor for Sienna.
“[Hype 5-0] was been my inspiration, honestly, ever since Day 1,” she said. “[I saw] how much they’ve accomplished, because they were still so young and starting their careers. Being here from the home studio where they started, it’s so mind-blowing and amazing that they actually got to compete in a show.”
But even though she’s made a reputable name for herself as a dancer, Sienna chooses to stay humble, as her strong faith in God keeps her grounded.
“I honestly just put my faith in God, no matter what I do, and it’s just putting my faith in God helps me so much because He gives me peace and reassures me that everything will be okay,” she said. “If I trust in Him, I won’t be feeling like I have to work super hard all the time and put all the weight on my shoulders because He’ll help me out throughout the whole way. I use dancing as my platform [to reach out to other dancers]. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been dancing for the church [Grace Bible Church Pearlside]. Just all the people I’ve met through there and the people I’ve tried to reach out to, it’s just been amazing to see them come to God has been amazing.”
This zealous faith has resulted in her own pursuit to strive for her future goals and to continue dancing as a career and passion, and also to motivate the next generation of dancers in the way her mentors influenced her.
“Just watching the people that I help grow more and more every day and to see them just becoming better dancers and better people as well…it’s so rewarding to see that I actually helped make a change in their lives.”
Follow Sienna on: Instagram | YouTube