Merrie Monarch 2015 Ho'ike
Cue to: 0:20 (chant opening)
Cue to: 1:20 (hula noho - kneeling hula)
Cue to: 3:50 (dance with ipu - gourd drums)
Cue to: 5:00
Cue to: 6:35 (dance with kala'au - sticks)
“Hula is a reflection of life. Hula is a way of telling history.”
– Pua Kanaka‘ole
Hālau o Kekuhi is the hālau hula (classical dance company) and the center of cultural knowledge for Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation. The cultural beliefs and practices in which EKF is anchored radiates from the traditional practices of the hālau hula that can account for eight generations of kumu hula (hula masters).
Hālau o Kekuhi is celebrated for its mastery of the ‘aiha‘a style of hula (dance) and oli (chant). The ‘aiha‘a is a low-postured, vigorous, bombastic style of hula that springs from the eruptive volcano persona Pele and Hi‘iaka, characteristic of Hawai‘i Island’s creative forces. Hālau o Kekuhi has earned local, state, national, and international recognition for their art.
“The music is more primordial, closer to the deep chants and rituals … Big thumping drums, stomping, and full choral call and response are the signature sounds…”—Adam Greenberg, AllMusic review of Hānau Ka Moku
The leadership of the dance company is currently transmitted through matrilineal succession and with the passing of Edith Kanaka‘ole, her daughters Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele and Nālani Kanaka‘ole (photo above) assumed the role of kumu hula. In 2007, Pualani relinquished her position to her daughters, Kekuhi Keali‘ikanaka‘oleohaililani and Huihui Kanahele-Mossman, who, along with Nālani, are now the kumu hula of the hālau. In December 2014, Kaumakaiwa Kanaka'ole had an 'aha ni'o, an ascension ritual where she inherited the role of kumu hula for the Halau, alongside her great-aunt and aunt.
In 2015, Kaumakaiwa was awarded a highly-regarded 2015 Native Hawaiian Artist Fellowship by the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation. During her fellowship year, she will choreograph, collaborate, compose new chant verses and stage presentations with her family to create bodies of work ready to tour in 2016. “It is the vision of our matriarch that we revolutionize the performance and secular aspect of hula for the greater public to witness,” said Kanaka’ole. “Composing is an ongoing process for me. It is our plan to include a musical segment into the performances we plan for hālau touring, with original songs as well as songs that are significant in my family.”Hālau O Kekuhi touring group: 8 dancers (men & women), led by 2 ho‘opa‘a (drummer & chanter – the culture-bearers).
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