Kumu Hula Sonny Ching
William “Sonny” Ching was preordained that he would be the one to continue hula in his family—his grandmother and great grandmother both foresaw it.
When Sonny was born, his great grandmother stated that he would become a chanter. It was when Sonny turned four-years-old that his grandmother started teaching him chants and then would progress to dancing hula. At twelve-years-old, Sonny’s father decided that he should not dance hula. However, his grandmother continued to teach him hula in secret without permission. Ironically, Sonny’s father is now his biggest supporter.
Sonny’s grandmother, Lena Pua‘ainahau Eleakala Nāhulu Guerrero, was his confidant, roommate, and best friend. She taught him one-on-one and usually did things together on a daily basis. They always preceded their training with a prayer in Hawaiian because his grandmother was of pure koko and was fluent in the language. This important ritual is still practiced today—this is how Sonny runs his classes today—before dancing, they pray to Akua and to Laka.