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.

DSCN1968

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

DSCN1970

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

DSCN1974

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.

DSCN1976

So colorful.

DSCN1978

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

DSCN1983

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

DSCN1984

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.

DSCN1986

The men step lively

DSCN1995

These women reminded me of swans

DSCN1998

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

DSCN2001

Close up of their hats

DSCN2003

Such color

DSCN2007

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

DSCN2009

Beautiful velvet dresses swaying

DSCN2011

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

DSCN2012

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

DSCN2013

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.

Advertisements

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

DSCN1963

With point and shoot in hand these are what I captured the rest of the night. Maybe it’s not so much that these photos are blurry but I’m disappointed that I could not capture the essence of the dance. That has nothing to do with the camera it only has to do with me. Does that have to be inborn? Or maybe I have to do more reading and shooting. I’m sure I have to do more what ever it is.

DSCN1959

As the dancers enter the stage part of how they approach is judged also. They will enter like the girls on the right then dance on to the stage in stages.

DSCN1948

I love to capture  the hair and skirts as they swish in the same movement. Many think of the ancient Hawaiian women with their log hair down their back but their was a time during Capt. Cooks visit that the women actually cut their hair very short and bleached it in the front. How they bleached it I don’t know but it was quite stunning. We have drawings of the women at the Bishop Museum.

DSCN1947

Withe such a large group it is very hard to manage a dance and have it totally synchronized. DSCN1939

When the men enter the stage the house gets uproarious and hoots and clapping, whistling and energy rises. Even though the patterns on the costumes may seem too modern there are actual Kapa clothing in our displays at the muse with this pattern. There are also sketches of ancient Hawaiian dancers with this exact style being worn as the men dance. Kapa clothing was quite colorful contrary to what many people thing of.

DSCN1930

This move is not as easy as it looks and many hours goes into practicing this in order to be able to carry it out flawlessly.

DSCN1928

All the greenery you see here is made by the dancers. I know that some halaus even go into the mountains to pick all of the vegetation that they wear.

DSCN1926

Here the kumu, I believe she is the gray haired lady, and her group do the chanting and accompaniment for the men.DSCN1925

Again I am not sure exactly what period this is because it definitely has the influence of the missionaries which does not seem kahiko to me. But then again it is the 50th anniversary so I am not sure what they were trying to portray here as kahiko.

DSCN1920

This reminds me of the Sumo outfits I’ve seen. Even the hair. I so wish I had the program to be able to tell what this represented.DSCN1903

This is my grandson’s kumu and the above photo shows her men dancing.

DSCN1900

The costumes can be very elaborate and costly. I’ve heard that you might have to pay around 1500 in cost just to be in one of these competitions. This particular competition is  non-profit.

DSCN1894

I love the ankle and hair pieces along with the costuming.

DSCN1880

This costuming is more what I think of the Kahiko style and of course the men always bring the house down when they dance. It is really high energy.

DSCN1878

Again they are performing a difficult move but with their long hair hanging down in back I think it is so beautiful.DSCN1864

The ti leaf draped over the skirts just makes the whole look.

DSCN1863

DSCN1859

DSCN1853

DSCN1849

DSCN1847

This halau is from Oakland California. Their kumu in not quite traditional but oh these guys were great. I would love to see them again. People went wild when they danced. Unfortunately they didn’t eve place.

DSCN1844

The kumu for the above men is in sunglasses. Perhaps that is part of what takes marks away from their performance. I don’t know as it certainly wouldn’t be considered traditional. But as I think back to all of the Hula I have seen through the years all of it has changed what was traditional then is rarely even seen today.DSCN1843

These were the drums he used. I don’t know what they are made from. The drums we have at the museum are made from coconut and the top is stretched with sharkskin.

DSCN1842

Again some blurred photos for your enjoyment 🙂DSCN1839

DSCN1837

DSCN1833

DSCN1832

I had taken over 200 that night and these were the only ones that turned out half way decent. On part 4 I will tour the island a little bit visiting the birthplace of my kids grandparents.

 

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

IMG_1143

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.

IMG_1145

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.

IMG_1148

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

 

IMG_1149

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

IMG_1152

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.

IMG_1189

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.

IMG_1191
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.

IMG_1193

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.

IMG_1195

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.

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