Lila Metzgar

KUGA head Lila Metzgar. Photo by Jerek Barcelona

Hip Hoppin’ the Day Away

by Anne E. O’Malley

KUGA was underground, but look again. What Kaua`i UnderGround Artists founder and dancer Lila

[Balmores] Metzgar ran on her own, in friends’ garages for their kids and for the county is now in two Kalaheo locations and spreading.

We’re talkin’ hip-hop and break dancing that for a long time was invisible on the island but now, says Metzgar, “Going into 2013, we’re seeing more.”

Begun as RAQUAD in 2003, Metzgar says it was such an alternative lifestyle it was as if KUGA were a safe secret place and you just didn’t know they were around.

That was the case, until Metzgar started to showcase this dancing style in a Love Life Creative Festival held annually in May and going on its fifth year. The rest of the year, KUGA also does mini hip hop jams “and battle for prizes, for example, for respect, for trophies, and some sponsors donate cool T-shirts and things.”

Students as young as four years old up to her oldest student, age 46, participate in classes up to four days a week, year-round. The dancer’s commitment is individual — as much or as little as he or she wants.

“Our goal is not to create the next big hit dancer,” says Metzgar. “Through what these students are learning and how they express themselves, they’re learning life skills beyond those of a professional dancer.

“Our goal is to create conscious reliable citizens of our community. It translates to schoolwork, and adults having dreams and going after them.”

Check out the photos below — then continue to read more about KUGA, including upcoming events.