Every so often a journey to Hawai’i is scheduled for any and all haumana who can make the trip to refresh the connection with the source. In 2009, a number of haumana traveled to Hāna , Maui to visit very special friends of the hālau, Leokāne & Chris, at their beautiful ‘ohana house. While there, a guest wrote the following recap of a memorable evening shared by all ~
Posted April 24, 2009 by staciemichelle in Hana, Maui.
… The purpose for our visit was a dinner party put on by friends of Leokāne. It happens that Leokāne is an incredibly talented musician of the traditional sort. His ukelele playing, soaring angelic voice and expressive hula dancing is a treat for anyone who has a chance to experience his gifts. The moment that completely changed his life direction, ultimately bringing him back to Hawaii, the land of his youth and family, and bringing his music to us, was because of a party, a woman named Pilialoha Christiansen and her hula group (or hālau) Ka Hale Hula O Pilialohaokalani O Hilo. The hālau was visiting Hāna as part of an inter-island trip that included attending the Merrie Monarch Festival, an annual festival celebrating the art of the hula (if you think the hula is some chick in a grass skirt and a coconut bra, you are sorely mistaken and missing out). Also visiting was Leokāne’s nephew and bride (Joey & Sallie) celebrating their honeymoon.
The night consisted of an introduction to a dozen hula dancers from Grass Valley, CA. I’m fairly certain they were all over 30, most over 40. A varied group of ladies with great smiles, contagious laughter and kindness exuding from their every pore: This welcome attitude and gentle generosity is known as Aloha Spirit. They busied themselves around the kitchen, their every movement of this communal cooking appearing like a choreographed dance. The rest of us were kept out of the kitchen (too many cooks spoil the pot?), drinking wine on the lanai (porch or deck) and eating delicious Pupus (appetizers). Dinner was laid out buffet style, but the food was anything but! Huge coconut shrimp, pork tenderloin, fresh salad with fruit, prawns…delicious! After dishing ourselves a plate, we all gathered in the living room in front of the TV to watch the best of the Merrie Monarch Festival 2009.
Watching the varied types of hula, the myriad dancers alike, I was in awe! The hula is divided into the two recognized styles: the ‘Auana and the Kahiko. The ‘auana is the more modern hula which can be accompanied by a full group of musicians and string instruments are allowed. The kahiko is the more traditional form and can only be chanted with a percussive instrument accompaniment. Each hālau performs both an ‘auana and kahiko. The categories are divided even further by gender – wahine (women) and kane (men) plus the category of best overall. Additionally, there is a competition for solo wahine for the title of Miss Aloha Hula in which each dancer must perform both an ‘auana and kahiko. Still with me?
… It was a lovely evening and I’m lucky to have been able to be a part of it. The ladies were wonderful and Chris & Leokāne are now two of my favorite people.