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

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