MERRIE MONARCH FESTIVAL: HOIKE SHOWCASES MEXICAN FLAIR
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Ka Pa Hula Ke Onaona Lokelani of Mexico, under the direction of kumu Rosa Elena Lopez Arriaga, performed last night at the hoike ("to share your knowledge") at Edith Kanaka'ole Tennis Stadium in Hilo.
Hula? Si, se puede!
A Mexican halau at the Merrie Monarch Festival is a testament to hula's global reach
HILO » The competition that starts at the Merrie Monarch Festival tonight might take up most of the media attention, but last night's hoike at the packed Edith Kanaka'ole Tennis Stadium showcased how hula has become huge in metropolises including, of all places, Mexico.
A small group of select kumu and students actually first performed during the regular Wednesday exhibition back in 2001, but this year, Ka Pa Hula Ke Onaona Lokelani of Mexico came with more than 50 dancers -- plus a mariachi band.
Under the direction of kumu Rosa Elena Lopez Arriaga, the halau is made up of what Ariana Morales calls the best dancers of around 300 halau in places like Mexico City, Jalisco, Guadalajara, Acapulco and other big cities.
First fascinated with such well-known exports as "Hawaii Five-O," the Mexicans were inspired more recently by visiting Hawaii kumu and hula experts.
Morales, herself the kumu of the Tiare Tahiti Polynesian Studio in Mexico City, said invaluable help has been given through workshops put on by people like Syl Kop of Hula Supply Center and kumu Ray Fonseca, the individual mainly responsible for hula's burgeoning popularity in Mexico.
"The halau that has come to Hawaii includes eight teachers of their own halau," said Morales.
Surprisingly, when the Mexican halau decided to include a mariachi portion of their program, the dancers had to, in fact, learn their traditional dance from scratch.
"It took us half a year to make this show," said Morales. "We wanted to show that we were proud to show people our native dances," reaching as far back as ancient, pre-Western contact times.
Another halau that has helped Morales when visiting Mexico also danced in last night's exhibition: Te Vai Ura Nui, under kumu Charles and Cathy Temanaha.
The name is Tahitian for "the great flame in the water," and the Honolulu-based halau was back at Merrie Monarch after a four-year absence. The veteran dance group was also celebrating its first-place showing at the Heiva I Honolulu at the Waikiki Shell last month.
Made up of 45 students, mostly of college age, from Hawaii and Tahiti, the halau "travels the world over at various fetes and festivals," Cathy Temanaha said. "My husband is originally from Tahiti, and we met when we both danced in the South Seas revue at the Hawaiian Hut in the 1970s and '80s. When we left that, we thought it gave us a nice chance to teach kids about Tahitian dance."
While both the Tahitian and Hawaiian languages are similar, things that distinguish Tahitian dance, Temanaha said, are the use of drums like the wooden "toere," and skin-head drums, the "fa'atete," the "tari parau" and the "pahu tupai."
Boys' leader Mana Gauthier said last night's performance was the same one that won them first place last month. Choreographed by the Temanahas, it was a love story called "Manino and Fanovai."
"It's from back in the day," he said, "that starts with girls on the shore and the boys out fishing. When the boys come back with the speared fish, the girls make a live net of themselves.
"A circle is then formed, then I dance as the main character as the boy who wants to marry the girl. But her dad thinks I cannot provide for her, but we end up doing a solo as a couple." After the boys do a haka and the girls a slow hula, it all comes to a happy ending as the couple is married, wrapped in a ceremonial blanket.
HALAU MAKES OFFERING TO PELE AT KILAUEA LOOKOUT
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Dancers with Halau Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniakea, under the direction of kumu Kapua Dalire-Moe, were escorted to the Kilauea Lookout by Volcanoes National Park rangers (since the lookout is closed to the public) to dance and chant to pay their respects to Pele yesterday. Volcanic fumes spewed from Halemaumau in the background. After the halau danced and chanted, they threw all their leis into the crater, returning them back to the earth.
When to watch
The festival will be televised on KITV4 for three nights starting today at 6 p.m. with the Miss Aloha Hula competition. Tomorrow at 6 p.m., the male and female halau perform kahiko (traditional) dance. And on Saturday starting at 5:30 p.m., the halau perform auana (modern) dance, followed by the awards ceremony.