Mau Kau Kau (Are You Ready?)

It’s Friday morning and I call my friend, Yvonne. “OK the paper says that “Saving Mr. Banks” is playing at 10:30 at Kahala Mall. So let’s make it for Sunday, that way there will be even less traffic for me to drive in.” Yvonne lives in Waikiki so she is close to the theaters. “We can watch the move and then go get some lunch” I add.

Yvonne thinks that sounds good and I think I’m pretty smart because if I go into town at that time and on that day I will save myself a lot of stress driving.

Sunday arrives, I zoom into town and I pick her up and we are at the ticket office by 10 AM. I get my ticket. Yvonne puts her money down and for some reason the woman who is selling the tickets ask Yvonne, “Do you want the 1:00 PM show. She never asked me that she just gave me my ticket. We both say “No!”

I look at my ticket and notice mine says 1PM. “We want the 10:30 show the one that was in the Friday paper.” Ohʻ she says. The schedule changes on Sundays.

“Oh no!” I’m going to be stuck in traffic. Yvonne this is the absolute last time you will see me. If you don’t take the bus out my way I’m just not coming into town! And so my day begins. Full blown curmudgeon. I’m here, I want to see the movie, I have no choice. I jam my ticket into my wallet and try to calm down.

So we decide to walk through the mall and stall for time and take in an early lunch. So we start our stroll with plenty of time to kill.

DSCN2235In the middle of the mall there is a crowd waiting for something to start on the stage

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The people were waiting for these little girls.  I whip out my not so trusty pocket camera and try to focus. For some reason I can’t get a clear photo. Trust me these blurry little faces were adorable.

DSCN2210Here again as in my last blog these children who are getting ready to perform on stage in front of dozens of people are so calm and can think of nothing else but what is going on with their wrist.

DSCN2230Well one of them is paying attention and is standing ready at the stage. But where are the others?

DSCN2213They are laughing and enjoying themselves in line. No longer examining their hands they start to form some sort of line with their little ukuleles held tight. Still they are calm and collected.

DSCN2226At last they stand by the stage. Mommy makes last-minute adjustments.

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DSCN2224They watch as their kupuna (elders) finish their performance

DSCN2227And now it is time for their little bare feet to step upon the stage and warm the hearts of all those friends, families  and shoppers.

DSCN2228Another Mommy makes another last-minute adjustment and…DSCN2234Mau Kau Kau?DSCN2215Ai (yes). There little bodies move, maybe not in unison but they dance their little hearts out. Who knows. Maybe the next “Little Miss Keiki Hula is in this halau.

Now I have to admit, I truly enjoyed this. I went to have lunch with my best friend we looked in stores and I found a few things I needed. We then enjoyed watching the story of the making of Mary Poppins even though it made me feel like crying remembering how much I loved Walt Disney, the man not the studio. As a child I was ever hoping that I would see him one day at Disneyland. But alas when he died my dreams were shattered.

Then it was time to go home. To drive in what I knew was going to be a mess of traffic. How did I know? Because I’m a know it all. And as they say “mau kau kau?”  for the traffic? Aʻole (no.) And was there traffic? Aʻole. But am I going to go back? Not anytime soon.

Hula And the Family, Hula Oni E 2013

IMG_2011Youngsters really, step onto the stage, but when the chant begins you become enthralled. So confident, graceful and thrilling. As I watch ,I admire the ability to step onto a platform and perform as though they were born dancing. The leis, hakus and costumes can take time and money.

Pain and hours and hours of practice is all behind them now as they immerse themselves into the past.

It is time for the Hula Oni e competition 2013 at the Hilton Hawaiian resort.

IMG_2281They aren’t just beautiful and graceful, they ARE the hula. In deep concentration, aware of every move, the face betrays none of this but relaxes as it tells the story.

IMG_1923My grandson has been dancing for about 3 years now and enjoys every step he makes. He has poise and confidence and executes his moves perfectly.

When his and other  performances are done  pockets of  audience disappear. We’ve managed to get our photos. I’ve managed to get back up with my camera from my kneeling position without falling over. I join the exodus. The families, excited, file out the doors and down the hall to greet and hug their kids and add their, “job well done.”

In the past I’ve tried to show some of the behind the scenes as well as types of performances watched. But this year seemed different. As families and friends we have come together now for a few years to watch. In doing so we’ve grown more and more involved as we see the kids mature and grow in their art.

So I thought I would share the love and pride that is shown among families and friends back stage. There are also a few behind the scenes shots that I thought were colorful.

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While waiting to perform these two boys kept each other entertained. “I’ll take a photo of  you then……IMG_2123you take a photo of me.”

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completely dressed to perform but keeping warm while they wait.

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These girls might have been from Japan as groups do come over from there to compete. They are concentrating on something. It might not even be performance related

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These young girls were adorable. They may even be related. But they were all dressed up and waiting and family started to take photos so I did too.

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I took a photo of these two as no one had a camera so I photographed them for one of the relatives and emailed it to them.

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This guy was relaxing with a cool drink of water and wearing his socks. I love photos that are so out of context. It remind me of the admonition that entertainers are no different than us because they have to put their pants on one leg at a time. 🙂

IMG_2138Then when I went back into the auditorium to watch more hula here was the guy who was drinking water. He got up their as cool as could be and gave a powerful, solo performance.IMG_2251

This guy was posing and having a lot of fun while waiting to go on

 

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The kids are close in each halau as close as family and they gravitate to each other after their performances.

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The grandparents grab the kids making sure to get their photos together.IMG_2318

These two siblings compete in the hula and with each other.IMG_2314

Mom and auntie’s turn to poseIMG_2309

 

Grandma has something special  for her girl.( I just love how beautiful and long  Kili’s hair is gettingIMG_2023Proud fatherIMG_2079

By now the kids are getting tired and want to be with their friends but wait. There are more grandparentsIMG_2043

 

And Dad wants a photo with his sonIMG_2030

Mom is back again with both kids nowIMG_2239

And even the mentor who helped my grandson to stay on track throughout the competition steps inIMG_2247

and though my grandson has on his hat and is ready to make it he has still more family that wants those photos.IMG_2234And last but not least I manage to get  into one shot, all washed out from running around trying to take everyone’s photo.

but that’s what family is about and we support the kids in their endeavors. But families here in Hawaii extend beyond blood.IMG_2075

 

The most important family in hula life is the Kumu. You can see the admiration for kumu Snowbird on Kili’s face.IMG_2049

And of course there are the hula sistersIMG_2227And the hula brothers.IMG_2353

And the very touching love of friends.

I’ve said it before but I can’t say it enough. What touched me most about living in Hawaii is how much children are loved. They, are to be seen, and they, are to be heard.

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.

LEAVING HOME TO GO TO THE HOME OF THE MERRIE MONARCH Part II

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The Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, a fascination destination for me, was celebrating its 50th year of competition.

I tried to envision the old gym it was held in. Open sides I was told and very cold in the evening. In my mind’s eye I could see the portable benches going up the sides of the building, the smell of old wood and everyone sitting where ever they could in a first come first serve seating.

 

And now here I was and I was pleasantly surprised. My son dropped me off in the front while he drove around looking for parking. Parking was at a premium to say the least. I stood in the front lot looking at all the peopled dressed in various stages of casual to beautiful full dressed Polynesian. Muʻu muʻu and hand-made lau hala hats with huge flowers pinned in the hair.

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From a distance I saw this man dressed in Hawaiian costume talking on a cell phone. I thought he was just a sort of welcoming committee. But later inside he was to proceed Princess Kawananakoa, A distant decedent of King Kalakaua, as she was ceremoniously guided to her seat.

Now if there are any of you out there who would know what the proper name for his position is I would be very happy if you could fill me in.

IMG_1147This is what I saw as I entered what I had imagined to be a little basketball gym.

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We sat right behind these people and had the best view of the stage even though it was a side view

 

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You are looking at about three-fourths of the audience.

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King Kalakaua. He was known as the Merrie Monarch. He was responsible for bringing back the Hula. During his reign he defied the missionaries who had banned the dancing and at all his events he would have halaus perform. Thus the name of the competition.

IMG_1156With all her leis, she is one of the judges.

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This is the Kahiko competition. Kahiko is the ancient style of hula. It is danced to the sound of drums and chanting. There is no music or singing. My camera was heavy as I carried it that night but I was so excited to be able to at last have a zoom lens and capabilities to get shots without blur. Unfortunately I also became a critic and kept waiting for the right shot instead of just firing away.The only got this shot of these men.

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This young girl proceeded her halau with what is called a hoʻokupu or gift or offering. I’m not sure who or where she took it to as I could not see once she got off the stage.

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Here the dancers are getting ready to enter on to the stage. The seated woman is their kumu or teacher. She will do the chanting and the playing of the ipu or gourd.

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This particular style of dressing was not what I thought was indicative of the kahiko. Since we were unable to get a program, as they were all sold out, I was not sure what they were performing. Even though I had read as much news on this particular competition I never read that the kahiko might be from a later period of time. When I think of Kahiko I think of pre-contact or Captain Cook’s time when drawings and written accounts were first made available of Hawaiian dancing. I know they never dressed like this.

I was a bit disappointed and again I chose to wait to do more photographing once the more traditional dancers came on. Boy was I in for a surprise. As the break between each performance came on I was trying to line shots up as I looked at the stage and audience with my camera. As I held my camera up to my eye an usher came up to me and said “excuse me, you can not use DSL’s to photograph this event unless you have a special pass.”

What? Why not I asked as I looked around at all the cameras going off. He told me I could use my camera phone or point and shoot. And what was I going to do with my cell phone? I looked at my son and all the people in front of me who had turned around and seemed to be as perplexed as me.

There was a time when this competition had almost failed because it just was not catching on. And now that it is world renown and they are selling shirts, books, and what have you they don’t want you to take a good photo as they (I think) are afraid you might sell it and make some money? Of course this may not be true but this is exactly what I felt.

So my son turned to me with my old Nikon point and shoot and said to me. “Good thing I brought it yeah?” He was laughing but he was mad. I was not laughing and wanted to leave. At last I calmed myself down and put my heavy, no use to me camera away and turned on the point and shoot.

So in part three I will continue with blurry photos and not as close up shots as I would like. Seems like old times doesn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.