I started this post on May Day which means Lei Day here in Hawai’i. Last year we went to the celebrations in town. This year we had a completely unrelated BBQ with friends. The kids have been practicing hula, chants, and ukelele for next Friday’s program at school though.
The big to-do however, is The Merrie Monarch Festival. My girl and I have been watching it on TV so we can fast forward through the commercials. The commentary is great, but I’ve been fast forwarding through a lot of it since there’s seven hours each night and I’m not keeping my girl up that late!
My favorite for Miss Aloha Hula was Manalani Mili Hokoana English (she ended up winning a very respectable 2nd place). She had such attitude in her ancient hula and was so flirty in her modern one. There was no doubt what the hulas were about.
I also enjoyed Hālau (club or troupe) Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka Lā’s Women’s (Wahine) Hula Kahiko (ancient style based on hula up to the reign of King Kalakaua):
My other favorite women were from Halau Hula Olana.
The chanting and dancing are fascinating, but I also enjoy the costumes. References to the time periods and subjects of the hulas via style and color just get better and better the more I learn about Hawaiian history and culture. Plus, I love the way the ti leaf skirts move and the way the starched fabric made to mimic kapa doesn’t move.
For Men’s (Kane) Hula Kahiko, I liked Hālau Hula ‘O Kahikilaulani (love the green and purple outfits too). They ended up winning 3rd place:
Only six guys but such a strong presence. The women of this Hālau were pretty impressive too.
The men from Hālau Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka Lā use an ulili, which according to an article I red a few weeks ago, is a rarely used instrument in these performances. Speaking of instruments, the guys of Halau I Ka Wekiu danced a procreation hula that I think dates back (in some form) to King Kalakaua’s coronation. I read in Unfamiliar Fishes that something like this completely grossed out the missionaries present. Gotta include that!
Continuing the theme was my favorite Hawaiian singer, Keali’i Reichel’s Hālau Ke‘alaokamaile dancing about the value of gold bars once influence from outside the islands had been established. They won first place.
Saturday night featured hula ‘auana, which is where hula has evolved since the time of the monarchy. This is the style most people probably think of when they think hula. My favorite guys were Hālau Nā Pua Me Kealoha from California, who danced in jeans about a Jeep ride. The little guy in the middle is great.
I liked Hālau Hālau Ke‘alaokamaile because Keali’i Reichel is so lovely to listen to.
But first place winners, Hālau ‘O Kamuela was so much fun to watch.
I can’t not mention the jaunty hats of several of the female groups, or the simple, graphic, black and white lei of the men’s group which danced about an albatross, and especially the tribute to Olympian and ambassador of aloha, Duke Kahanamoku (who won, and in my mind paired beautifully with the winning ladies and their Oahu medley). So many wonderful flowers and costumes!
It’s been a fun few evenings with the TiVo.