Kumu knows best


POSTED: Saturday, April 18, 2009

HILO » Moses and Eliza Kane didn't know their daughter Cherissa was going to be chosen by her kumu Keali'i Reichel to be her halau's Miss Aloha Hula contestant until they received a letter from Reichel.

;[Preview]  Halau I Ka Wekiu - Kahiko

Halau I Ka Wekiu perform their hula kahiko to “;He Inoa No Kamakaeha”;.

Watch  ]


“;After that,”; said Moses Kane, “;we just trusted his judgment. After all, he's the kumu hula, so he knows.”;

He did know. Kane's steady and composed dancing in both her hula kahiko (ancient) and hula 'auana (modern) earned her the coveted title of Miss Aloha Hula Thursday night at the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo.

Even though Reichel has an established reputation in contemporary Hawaiian music, it was still a stunning victory for Kane and Reichel's Halau Ke'alaokamaile, in their debut appearance at the festival.

Cherissa Kane's opening chant for her kahiko number, “;Maika'i ka 'Oiwi Ka'ala,”; also won her the festival's Hawaiian Language Award. Her ancient hula was warmly received by the sell-out audience, but it was her modern hula that really captured the crowd. She danced to “;Ka Nohona Pilikai,”; sung by Reichel and his band.

Moses Kane, who is a regular member of Reichel's backup group, admitted he was nervous during his daughter's performance.

“;While I was concentrating on my playing, I looked up and took a glance at her, here and there,”; he said.

Cherissa Kane grew up on Maui and was enrolled in the Hawaiian immersion program at King Kekaulike High School in Pukalani.

But according to her dad, she didn't take to hula immediately. He remembers asking her when she was a youngster whether she wanted to dance hula, and she said no. But she eventually came around to loving it, without it being forced on her by her parents.

“;I leave everything to our children to decide what they want to do as they grow up,”; he said.

There were tears all around after Kane was announced the winner. Kane and Reichel tightly embraced as they were surrounded by their ecstatic halau and extended ohana. Then Dad and Mom each had their private moment with their daughter.

“;I love you”; were the first words out of Kane's mouth as she held her mother, who herself was holding her daughter's ipu prize.

“;I LOVE YOU!”; Kane emphatically repeated as reinforcement.

Kane's eyes welled up again when reminded about the recent passing of Auntie Leona Stephens, Reichel's main support person in Halau Ke'alaokamaile.

“;She was very important to us. Auntie was also my godmother, and a second mother to me. When I was on stage, not only was I dancing for her, but for my family, my kumu and my hula sisters as well. And when I heard my name called as the winner, I was absolutely stunned.”;

“;My husband and I have always been proud of her,”; said Kane's mother, Eliza, “;and what she did and accomplished here tonight is the icing of the cake. She did it both for herself and her family.”;