Last year’s Moku O Keawe International Festival solo winner Leiomalama Solomon, Beamer Solomon Halau O Po’ohala (Kumu Hula Hulali Covington), performs. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MOKU O KEAWE FOUNDATION FOR NHN)
From Mexico, Halau Ilikai O Waimapuna competes in last year’s Moku O Keawe International Festival (Kumu Hula Aturo Kamana’o and Noemi Aviles Martinez). (PHOTO COURTESY OF MOKU O KEAWE FOUNDATION FOR NHN)
From Hilo, dancers of Halau Na Pua Uluhaimalama (Kumu Hula Emery Aceret) perform a hula noho (seated hula).(PHOTO COURTESY OF MOKU O KEAWE FOUNDATION FOR NHN)
2012 Kupuna solo winner, Mary Jane Kamoku, Hula Halau O Kawananakoa (Kumu Hula Alberta Nicolas.) (PHOTO COURTESY OF MOKU O KEAWE FOUNDATION FOR NHN)
Halau members show the results of hours of practice as they perform onstage during the 2012 Moku O Keawe International Festival. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MOKU O KEAWE FOUNDATION FOR NHN)
Hula workshop students have the unique opportunity to learn from kumu hula Nalani Kanakaole, Chinky Mahoe, Cy Bridges and Iwalani Kalima during Moku O Keawe International Festival this year, Nov. 7-9, Thursday through Saturday, at Hilton Waikoloa Village. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MOKU O KEAWE FOUNDATION FOR NHN)
Noted ipu farmer and ipu craftsman Kalim Smith works on a gourd in an undated photo. Smith will demonstrate his art in a “class without walls” at Moku O Keawe’s Made-in-Hawaii Market Place at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Friday and Saturday. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MOKU O KEAWE FOUNDATION FOR NHN)
Hula workshop students have the unique opportunity to learn from esteemed kumu hula Nalani Kanakaole, Chinky Mahoe, Cy Bridges and Iwalani Kalima during Moku O Keawe International Festival, Thursday through Saturday at Hilton Waikoloa Village. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MOKU O KEAWE FOUNDATION FOR NHN)
“Study the choreography. Examine the hand motions. Watch the footwork,” said Sig Zane, Moku O Keawe Foundation advisory board member. “In this competitive staging, the best will be giving their all. From the traditional hula kahiko to the contemporary hula auwana, the Moku O Keawe International Hula Festival at the Hilton Waikoloa Village lifts the heritage of Hawaiian dance to new heights.”
Not everyone thinks of hula in terms of competition. For many, hula is entertainment—beautiful dancers in exotic costumes and flower lei, their graceful hands and hips that sway to the sweet sounds of ukulele and steel guitars. Some may know that every hula tells a story, that hula and its related arts are as ancient as Hawaii itself, and that the levels of its perfection are intricate, deeply rooted and sometimes demanding, as hula passes down the generations.
The Moku O Keawe International Festival, this year Nov. 7-9, educates the competitive dancer as well as the casual observer in a variety of ways. Now its its eighth year, the competition attracts top-level hula halau from Hawaii and Japan who have practiced all year to bring their best performances to the stage. In the classroom, noted kumu, or teachers, offer in-depth workshops, sharing their individual perspective, skill and talent with hula students. At the Market Place, hula implements, and hula-inspired art, fashion and more becomes available to everyone.
On Thursday and Friday evening and Saturday afternoon (see full schedule below), hula halau from Hawaii Island, neighboring islands and Japan compete in three divisions—Wahine (women age 13 to 45) Kahiko (ancient hula), Kupuna (seniors age 46 or older, auwana only), and Wahine Auwana (modern hula). Points are totaled across both categories to determine the overall group and solo winners.
Competition judges include some of the most esteemed kumu hula of the day—Nalani Kanaka’ole, Cy Bridges, Chinky Mahoe and Iwalani Kalima. With keen eyes and ears from generations of hula training, they will evaluate each performance in 12 different areas:
• Ka’i — the chant or mele (song) delivered as dancers enter the stage. Ka’i must be relevant to the hula performed, as to its theme, honored deities or elements of nature, and appropriate to the time period. Ka’i for kahiko hula must have been composed before 1893; for auwana, ka’i from the Kalakaua era to present day are permitted.
• Interpretation and expression — speak to the artistic expression of the music or chant through hula, the dancers’ body movements and even facial expressions.
• Posture — plays a key role from the moment a dancer enters the stage until well after she exits.
• Precision — only applicable to group performances, measures the ability of halau to move and dance together as one fluid entity.
• Hand gestures, and feet and body movements — are observed and evaluated separately and together as to their expression and execution.
• Ho’i — is the chant or mele chosen for the dancers’ exit from the stage, and is subject to the same judging criteria as the Ka’i.
• Costumes, adornments and grooming — are graded in both kahiko and auwana hula, which require two completely different sets of clothing, lei and hairstyles. Kahiko hula requires traditional costume from the period prior to 1893, which may include skirts made from natural materials. Even the ho’opa’a (accompanying drummer) must be costumed. Hula Auwana is allowed more freedom and variety in color, elaborate floral leis and headpieces, hairstyles and makeup, although cellophane skirts and artificial flowers are never allowed.
• Overall performance — Perhaps more subjectively, each dance is evaluated for its impact as a presentation, and ability to “capture the essence of the chosen mele or chant.”
“Educational workshops are an important facet of the festival as the sharing of hula knowledge is passed down through these classes,” said Zane. “You can partake of the various styles of hula from the esteemed judges who represent many generations of hula. You can also learn to make an exquisite Ni‘ihau shell lei or ipu heke (double gourd drum) from a master craftsman.”
Half-day hula workshops taught by the competition judges are designed for students with at least some hula experience, and dancers should bring a pau skirt or pareau. Class is limited to 50 students and a $50 per-student donation to Moku O Keawe Foundation is requested for each.
New this year is “Following Tradition,” an informal talk-story gathering with Mary Ann Lim and members of her ohana. From North Kohala, their talented family has influenced Hawaiian music, dance and song for generations, from here on the island across the oceans and around the world. The Lim Ohana will share stories of their Kohala foundation, the storied dance stylings, and their musical talents, as three generations will come together for a very special gathering. A $30 donation to Moku O Keawe Foundation is requested.
Ni‘ihau shell lei, treasured for their intricacy and luster, are the expertise of Kele Kanahele. He will teach an all-day lei pupu (shell) workshop on Friday that takes students through the process of creating their own Ni‘ihau shell lei with “pupu alilea,” which is a shorter lei designed to hang at the collarbone. Class is limited to 20 students and a $295 donation to Moku O Keawe Foundation includes the shell kit.
Made-in-Hawaii Market Place
“Extraordinary and remarkable arts and crafts, made in Hawaii, are featured in the gathering of more than 50 islanders,” said Zane. “Hula implements, hand-printed clothing, fresh lei, heirloom jewelry and furniture are part of the offerings at the Moku O Keawe Marketplace on Friday and Saturday.”
Organized by Nelson Makua, the Market Place will be ongoing near the Monarchy Ballroom in the Hilton Waikoloa Village conference area on the ground floor, to registration for workshops and to purchase tickets, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., on Friday and Saturday.
The Market Place will also contain a unique opportunity to participate in the “class without walls,” observing skilled ipu-maker Kalim Smith creating the traditional rhythm instruments from natural gourds.
“The spirit of the person becomes part of their craft,” said Zane. “Each moment dedicated to the implement will be expressed in their hula as the extension of their body. Two large gourds sewn together is the instrument that provides the rhythm and beat of hula kahiko. And these ipu were grown by Kalim and Kuuleialoha Smith on lands of their forefathers.”
In the “class without walls,” students will be able to watch a master make an implement and listen to his instructions in small groups. Instruction is free and ipu will be are available for sale, or students may join in and make their own for a donation to Moku O Keawe Foundation.
For the serious hula devotee, the beginner, newcomer, visitor or interested kama’aina, Moku O Keawe International Hula Festival is an opportunity to learn, experience and celebrate the many arts of hula, immersed in the music, dance and culture of the generations.
Advance registration is required for Moku O Keawe International Festival workshops and can be purchased online or at the festival registration area until one hour prior to class. For more information, to purchase tickets or to register for a workshop, visit www.mokif.com.