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HulaÖit makes me feel so good!

By: Ekko Maemaekapauaokahala Ota

Date Posted: 2001-10-08

The mood in my Halau (hula school) is getting really hot now. Itís not because itís summer, but there are only three months left until the hula festival scheduled for three days starting Nov. 15 in Kona, Hawaii Island.

We have three teams that will perform in the festival. Two teams will be in Auana (modern hula) category, of which one will be in Lokomaikai (over 25-year-old) and the other in Kupuna wahine (over 50-year-old). Another team will participate in Kahiko (classic hula) category. Haumana (students) in each team are practicing really hard.

So far, we have only performed in the King Kamehameha Hula Competition in Japan with only Japanese dancers. But this time we are going to Hawaii to perform with all the home teams from Hawaii. I teach exactly what I have learned from my Master Kumu Hula to my Haumana, so I am pretty confident that they move as they were taught. Though, they seem to be nervous and worried, especially those who have never been to Hawaii before.

Now in Japan, hula is very popular. I heard that it ranks among the best three of what people want to learn. There are over five hundred schools around the nation and a magazine featuring only hula is published. Many hula musicians have come to Japan. Thanks to all that, hula has been taken in Japan in more adequate way than it was before. One of the best-known events is the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival that has become one of the biggest hula events in Hawaii. My Master Kumu Hula first started this event 38 years ago, with the aim at promoting both hula and Hilo in Hawaii Island. It is not only popular for those who learn hula, but also for anyone who wants to watch it. Tickets are usually sold out one year ahead.

Traditional culture usually dies out if itís only preserved, but hula has become popular with the public through competitions. Now even the Japanese are showing interest in a big way, not only watching it.

This is what the hula festival concretely is like. In the invitational festival like this, the organizer sends you an invitation card with the concept of the festival and its rules. On understanding the concept, you request the entry, and fill out all the application forms. In the mean time, there is an important task that we, Kumu Hula (hula instructors) have to do. We have to decide the songs, make a report on how we understand them, explain the reason why we chose the colors and design of our dresses, and write lyrics of the songs in correct Hawaiian. If itís a classic hula, the reports have to be based on the traditional form. It can be exhausting work, and I made two trips to Hawaii in í99, in order to complete the report. I will tell you the story of these trips next time.

Aloha! A hui hou! Halau Hula Kalakaua

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