PREPARING FOR THE MERRIE MONARCH
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The wahine of Keolalaulani Halau Olapa 'O Laka visited the Kilauea lookout at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park yesterday to pay respects to the goddess Pele. Kumu hula Aloha Dalire was the first to throw her ho'okupu, or offering, into Kilauea Crater. CLICK FOR LARGE
Halau honors its heritage
A trip to the Kilauea lookout pays tribute to goddess Pele
HILO » Regardless of what happens at this year's Merrie Monarch Festival, kumu hula Aloha Dalire said she is pleased that she did her part to keep alive the heritage of the dance that has meant so much to her.
She and her wahine of Keolalaulani Halua 'Olapa O Laka made the drive to the Kilauea lookout at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park yesterday morning to pay their respects to the goddess Pele with their mohai aloha, "our gift giving" in the form of oli (chant), dance and ho'okupu, leis tied up in a basket of ti leaves.
On what started as a cool, overcast and foggy morning, Dalire, her halau and her supporters walked barefoot to the lookout point, in deference of entering Pele's residence.
Once settled in, the halau's Miss Aloha Hula contestant, Lewalani Duarte, did her own sitting hula, a stirring presence even with her hair done up in blue curlers in preparation for that evening's competition. At the conclusion of her dance, the chirping of a lone bird could be heard before Dalire struck an ipu to signal for the rest of her wahine to begin their hula.
Afterward, the wahine lined up along the rim of the crater and sat down to prepare their ho'okupu, carefully removing all of their leis pinned to their flowing hair and around their necks.
A lehua blossom tree was in rare bloom near them, a flower that has significance to the song "Ipo Poli Anuanu." Tomorrow night during the 'auana competition, the halau is expected to dance to the song, using an arrangement by Shawn Pimentel.
While the wahine wrapped their leis with ti leaves, Dalire showed Pimentel a broken lehua branch she found on the ground, its sap the color of blood. To Dalire the broken branch also represents the heartbreak that infuses the melancholy spirit of the song.
When the halau members finished their ho'okupu, Dalire chanted an oli as the wahine stood up near the rim. Each of them took a private moment before tossing their gifts into the waiting crater.
Amid their tears and quiet crying, Dalire told her wahine to "absorb what you can from this moment and keep the experience with you always.
"All of your years in hula has come to this. What you feel right now is part of your everyday life. This is what survives every generation of dancers. You have to open up your heart. If hula means that much to you, you have to absorb it, 'kay?
"I can honestly say that I have never been to this lookout and seen it this way this morning," Dalire said.
"I've got a good feeling about what I have done today," Dalire said later. "Our mohai aloha has been accepted. No matter what happens before the judges over the next couple of nights, I feel I've kept my ancestors and the lineage happy."
But before turning back to the parking lot behind them, Dalire's youngest daughter, Keola, took the red blossom from behind her ear and nestled it within the branches of the lehua tree.