For any of you who know my family (and particularly our daughter), you will know that the last few months for her have been filled with the excitement of hula as she and halau partake in the annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hilo, Hawaii. Hula has been an incredible part of her life for the past 22 years and this being the first time in several that she is returning to competition with her kumus and hula sisters for the 50th Anniversary of the festival is something that we are all so proud of .
If any of you are avid hula lovers or those of you who are new to hula, this is one weekend you won't want to miss. Starting this evening on KFVE, their Backstage at The Merrie Monarch will be aired sharing incredible wonderful Ho'ike performances (of which our beloved Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka will be performing as well). Tomorrow night (Thursday) is the coveted Miss Aloha Hula solo competition (we will be cheering on the halau's beautiful soloist Manalani English, #4), Friday is the men and women's group Kahiko performances (Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka is #13 this night and the last) and Saturday is the group Auana performances and awards ceremony. We are excited to support the halau as they embark on their journey to competition and share the beauty and pride so prevalent here on Maui, and of course to us as their family who are so proud of the dedication of our children.
And fear not, for those of you not currently in Hawaii to watch the competition locally, as it is livestreamed over the internet as well. For more details, check out the official Merrie Monarch website or the KFVE website for information on the livestream. Wishing the halau the best of luck as well as their fellow Maui halau who will no doubt represent the island with pride, we will surely be enjoying a full weekend of incredible hula!
For those of you currently here on island enjoying the sun and ocean, this coming weekend is an extraordinary opportunity for you to experience some incredible Hawaiian culture...not to mention an event that is particularly close to home for me. If any of you are staying on the West side of the island (Lahaina, Ka'anapali, Napili, etc) you may have heard of the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, proudly boasting the title of "Hawai'i's most Hawaiian hotel" due to their great attention to cultural detail. Well, this weekend they take it to the next level as they host the 20th Anniversary of their Hula O Na Keiki Competition. This is a wonderful opportunity for those of you who love our islands, Hawaiian music, hula, and Hawaiian culture at large to sit back and enjoy truly fantastic hula and music by some of the most talented kumu hula, musicians, and competing children, ages 5-17.
It is an event close to my heart considering the fact that my daughter Jade has been a longtime hula dancer for the past 21 years, and she had the privilege of competing as a soloist in this very competition her senior year of high school. It was her very first solo competition, after years of competitive hula with her hula sisters and kumu hula, but this was truly a life changing experience for her as it challenged her to rise to a level of independence we had never known before...it was an overwhelming experience as her parents to sit in the audience and watch the culmination of so many years of hard work come to fruition while she took the stage by herself at the age of 17. It was an emotional, beautiful, unforgettable moment for me as her mom that I will always be grateful to her kumu hula for. I encourage any and everyone to check out this wonderful children's hula competition and enjoy our incredible local talents! For more information check the KBH website.
I am so excited to share this event with all of you, as I am thrilled to be attending it myself. I have missed watching my daughter dance hula for the past 2 years while she has been on a break, but this year she will grace the stage once again with her wonderful halau for their annual Mohala Mai fundraiser concert. The funds raised from the concert as well as the Silent Auction support the halau in their competitive endeavors, as they have received honors from the most prestigious hula competitions in the world. Please come support Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka for a night of truly incredible Hawaiian music featuring the brilliant voices of Napua Makua, Aaron Sala, Hi'ikua and Weldon Kekauoha as they inspire the dancers with their music. It will surely be an unforgettable event you wont want to miss!
Mohala Mai 2012 - Fundraiser for Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka
Saturday, October 27, 5:30 PM
Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka under the direction of nā kumu hula, Nāpua Makua and Kahulu Maluo, will perform their annual hō‘ike and fundraiser in an evening filled with inspiring traditional and contemporary hula, oli (chant) and mele (song). The award winning hālau shares the stage with Hawai‘i’s finest musical groups and solo artists, such as Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winners, Hi‘ikua and Weldon Kekauoha, as they meld melodic voices, graceful hula and the imagery of Hawai‘i into a production that promises to be moving and memorable. A silent auction will open at 4 pm in the Yokouchi Pavilion Courtyard. Check out the MACC website for more details.
Yesterday was a very special day at Seabury Hall, the school we are so proud to have had all three of our children attend for their formative years. Each year they celebrate Hawaiian culture in what has formerly been known as "May Day", of which all three of my children have actively performed in with their classmates, as well as on the May Day Court. However, this year my daughter's talented kumu hula Napua Makua elevated the entire performance to what is now known as He Ha'upu Aloha...where each class performs a hula, as well as independent competition groups to celebrate our beautiful island home and the rich culture that thrives here. It was wonderful as a parent of 3 alumni to just be able to attend and enjoy the day of wonderful performances and bring back those of the days when my kids were there. Congratulations to kumu Napua and the Seabury Hall community on a wonderful and unforgettable day!
And for any of you lovers of Hawaiian music, I will be asking my daughter to help post some favorite Hawaiian albums as recommendations as well...the first being the woman who has inspired her passion for hula for the greater part of her life, two-time Na Hoku Hanohano award winning female vocalist of the year Napua (Greig) Makua! You can check out her beautiful albums Pihana & Mohalu on itunes or on mele.com...truly beautiful Hawaiian music to add to your collection.
For those of you who may not know, I am the mother of a hula dancer. For 20 of her 25 years my daughter has grown up heavily immersed in hula and Hawaiian culture, one of her greatest passions in life. She began dancing at the age of 5, began dancing competitively in statewide hula competitions with her halau at the age of 13, as well as professionally in private lu'au shows as well as traveling with the Maui Visitors Bureau. Hula has always been one of the biggest parts of her life, and our family has taken such great pride in supporting her through her journey as a dancer as it has greatly shaped her into the woman she is today.
Her dream since high school has been to compete as a soloist in the Merrie Monarch Festival, which is the most prestigious hula competition in the world, often considered the 'Olympics of Hula' so to speak. My husband and I have had the privilege of attending this wonderful competition the 3 times our daughter has competed, the last of which when she finally realized her dream and represented her halau as a Miss Aloha Hula soloist. It was the challenge and dream of a lifetime for her, and was a moment our family will never forget watching her brave that stage, those lights and cameras and for the thousands of people throughout the world who were watching over the internet livestream. It was a dream come true for us to watch her live her dream come true.
Since then she has allowed herself the opportunity to focus on mastering other passions that have called to her, but hula has and will continue to be a big part of her heart. Thus this past weekend it was wonderful for us to enjoy the Merrie Monarch Festival from the comforts of home with her, as she giddily tweeted after each number and was truly inspired by each performance. It is one of the many gifts we are so fortune to enjoy here in Hawaii, and continues to touch my heart not only by watching Merrie Monarch, but knowing how deeply it moves my daughter...for no matter where she goes, or how many years may pass, I know hula will always live in her heart.
For those of you who may have missed the festivities, you can check out this year's many wonderful performances on the KFVE website or youtube videos of years' past to enjoy one of the many beautiful parts of our island culture.