The Beauty of the Modern Hula, Last of the Merrie Monarch 2013

As we entered the Merrie Monarch Competition for the last time I was sure I would not enjoy it. This night was the Auana. The modern-day hula. When visitors come to Hawaii, this is what they think of when they think of the hula. It is not as historical as the Kahiko which is ancient hula nor is it as exciting.

It is graceful, musical, and colorful. You are more likely to see swaying hips and hands as graceful as swans, slowly waving hypnotically.  The dancers are fully clothed more often than not as this was part of the influence of the missionaries.

Unlike the Kahiko, there is singing and instruments playing. You don’t have the drums nor chanting. I was pleasantly surprised at the dancing this night though and the music was fabulous as well as the singing. There were many noted performers singing t and it was like a consort and hula competition all rolled into one.

IMG_0967The photo above is of Queen Kapiolani who was the wife of King Kalakaua, the Merrie Monarch.

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These ladies came from Japan to watch their kumu. As it happens this particular kumu (teacher) also teaches in Japan as well as in the islands. I just loved how they all chose to dress up in this particular style for the night. They looked beautiful

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Hard to tell what their hula was portraying. A lot of the auana dances have fun themes.

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These costumes which are also part of the competition were so unique. You can double-click on these to get a closer look at the hair pieces.

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So colorful.

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When these women all dance in unison along with the color it is beautiful to watch

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Long hair adds so much to the gracefulness of the dance.

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Here you can see that the musicians are on the side of the stage and not on the stage as in the Kahiko where the kumu drums and chants.

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The men step lively

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These women reminded me of swans

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Not only were they beautiful in their purple dresses their hats and flower pieces in their hair were stunning.

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Close up of their hats

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Such color

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They had the jade plant in their hair and they looked beautiful

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Beautiful velvet dresses swaying

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Even though some colors show up more than once they are still unique in their style and headdress

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These lively guys were just a joy to watch. I really enjoyed their dance

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Now were getting down to the grass skirts

DSCN2020And what most people think of as in hula when the come to the islands.

So my trip to Hilo was full of surprises, a bit of disappointment (my camera) but most of all It was an exciting experience. Happily I enjoyed the auana too. I enjoyed it all.

If you want to take in the Merrie Monarch some time I would suggest that you get your tickets last month! Yes it sells out that quick.

My next visit to Hula land will most likely be the competition at the Hilton Hawaiian Hotel to see my grandson dance. Let’s hope they have not picked up on the Merrie Monarchs forbidding and that they will still allow us to use are DSLR.

Hula Oni ʻe

Once again two of  my grandchildren were competing in the Hula Oni e competition at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. These photos are really bad and it was at this competition where my Nikon camera gave out. But I wanted to share some of it with you even though they are not the best shots it still gives you an idea of what went on.

This was my grandsons first competition. That’s his blurry face in front. They brought the house down with their hula “The Boy from Laupahoehoe” If you would like to see a version of the dance even though casual I think it will give you an idea of why the audience loved it so much(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Wr61GKYeuE)

This is my grandson’s Kumu (or teacher) coming through the hall after their second performance. You can just see her halau (troop) behind her. She was ecstatic as the boys did so well with both performance even though they had not competed before.

This was their official photo. At the end of the competition they learned that they had taken first place both in the Kahiko (ancient hula) and Auana (modern hula.) I am not sure but I believe that their outfits for the Kahiko that they are wearing here reflect the historic time of King Kalakaua  whose reign was influenced by the missionaries, hence the well covered bodies.

Trying to catch the action and feel of the hula. It’s a bad photo and yet I was happy with the hair and skirts movements.

After trying to capture images inside I gave up and thought I would try for outside but these were truly snapshots without having time to focus. Though I was using my point and shoot they still came out blurred.

Even after all the excitement of the competition a mother is a mother

Waiting to perform in the auana

I saw these guys coming down the hall ready to perform. I kept shooting and hoping but again….

So as the sun sank slowly in the west I was able to take somewhat of a decent shot that day. Though it was not the competition, it made me thankful once again that I was lucky enough to live in Hawaii.

So as my son and I left the Hilton Hawaiian I tried one last time to take a photo but it just wasn’t to be. I am going to return with my Canon and this time get the picture straight.

Hula, Halus and the Hilton Hawaiian

Tee shirt for this years Hula Festival

Being one that does not like traffic jams, expensive parking spaces and crowded streets I seldom go into Waikiki. But once I’ve navigated through all of that and I get out of the car and look around I chastise myself. There is a lot of beauty in a day that begins with trade-winds, blue canals and the thought of Hula Kahiko. ( Ancient Hula)

Ala Wai Boat Harbor is the first to greet me as we park the car to go into the Hilton Hawaiian Village

My son is trying to be patient with me as we head on to the hotel grounds. He is talking to me and walking ahead when he realizes that I’m still at the statue taking photos. The sculptures are graceful, full of meaning and captivating. I need to take a picture. How else can I tell a story.

This tells the story of the making of Kapa by two sister in an ancient legend. The seated woman who is pounding Kapa is Puanani Van Dorpe who has learned the ancient ways of Kapa Making and passed it on so that the art of Kapa won’t be lost. She has been named a Living Hawaiian Legend.

So my son backs up and tells me it is OK he understands  and once again we start for the festival. Then I see the chapel on the grounds and what’s that in the window? A bride. I must take a photo.

The wedding chapel where a Japanese bride is waiting. Many Japanese come from Japan to get married here. They most likely will have had the traditional Japanese wedding at home but still pay big money to have an American wedding here. Usually it is just the bride in groom and no guest.

I’ve purposely left the photo large so that you can see the bride inside the window.

My son now has told me that it is getting late and if we don’t hurry we won’t get a good seat. So I leave all the Kodak moments behind and we head into the hotel.

As we step out of the elevator we step into the heart of the festival. By that I mean the preparation. I’m not sure why a lot of the work is going on in the hallways. Maybe the hotel did not provide the halaus with an area to prepare or the halaus just spilled out into the walkways. What ever the reason I find it thrilling and immediately start taking more photos.

Dancers are working on a Ti leaf skirt

One of the males is being fitted for his skirt.

Bird of Paradise flowers have been wrapped in preparation for head pieces

A hairdresser adds fern, ginger and the Bird of Paradise to the dancers hair

Finished hair piece

My son has now managed to relate the urgency to me as I take my last photos. I just could not pass up these leis.

Leis for sale

Orchids and more orchids
Leis are works of art

We are finely inside and like my son said, we should have walked faster as we are in pretty bad seats. But what I could see they were all pretty bad seats as they were level with the stage so that I could not see a lot of the dancing. To make things worse I had forgotten my tripod and had to take hand-held photos without flash. So my photos are a bit blurry

The fixture lights up signaling the beginning of the festival.

Auana Hula (modern hula) This is what most people think of when they think of Hula. The graceful dancers whose hands seem to float tell a story about the snow.

This halau appears in the style of King Kalakaua era in the 1800’s

The Kahiko (ancient hula)

When the halau enters the stage  the kumu calls  to get ready. The excitement begins. The audience which by now is full of other halaus call out loudly and excitedly. This is a competition but everyone has worked hard, raised money, put much time and sweat into their routine and when a strong move is performed they are not competitors but co-hearts, all are one in the perpetuation of an ancient art that almost disappeared because of the outside influences to the islands. I can’t help but cry I am so emotional to watch my calabash granddaughter perform.

The performance is over and the kumu hugs one of her performers. Love and respect passes from the dancer to her teacher. They’ve worked hard and the expression on the kumu’s face shows how much she cares for her girls.

It’s over now. The Kumu calls her girls together and they wait for the elevator to head back to their rooms where they will change and come back to the auditorium to then cheer on the other halaus.

My son and I head out of the hotel I with my camera in hand now that I am not on a time frame. But everything seems to pale after all the color and excitement. Then I see this one last sculpture.

I believe it sums up the day. What a beautiful tradition