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Hula O Na Keiki perpetuates Hawaiian culture

By Staff | Nov 5, 2009

Last year, the overall wahine and kane awards were captured by Kaysha Auli‘i Vierra, 17, and 12-year-old Kamalei Kapualana Hanamaika‘i Kawa‘a. Photos by Randy J. Braun.

KAANAPALI — Kaanapali Beach Hotel is proud to host the 19th year celebration of “Hula O Na Keiki,” Maui’s only keiki solo hula event, on Nov. 13-15.

This popular event will feature eight halau from the Hawaiian Islands and Japan.

The nonprofit event was established by the staff of Kaanapali Beach Hotel in 1990. Hotel and community employees volunteer their time for the competition, which promotes awareness and perpetuates Hawaiian culture through music and dance.   

“Close to $15,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded to the participants and kumu,” said awards Chair Lori Sablas.

“Our awards still remain our top expense, which is possible because of generous support from our community partners like Hawaiian Airlines, Trilogy Excursions, Williams & Associates, ‘Ulalena, Old Lahaina Luau and many others.”

Last year, the overall wahine and kane awards were captured by Kaysha Auli‘i Vierra, 17, and 12-year-old Kamalei Kapualana Hanamaika‘i Kawa‘a. Photos by Randy J. Braun.

Festivities begin at 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 13, and Saturday, Nov. 14, with live music and entertainment throughout the day.

Cultural arts and crafts (for purchase) will be featured both days from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a variety of artisans from Maui, Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island.

Guests are encouraged to watch and partake in the cultural workshops and demonstrations, such as lei and hula implement-making, pahu drum carving, lauhala weaving and making nose flutes.

The hula competition begins Friday at 5 p.m. (doors open at 4 p.m.) and concludes Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. (doors open at 1 p.m.).

Open to the public, tickets for the event are going fast. Last year’s competition was a sellout.

Ticket outlets include Kaanapali Beach Hotel’s ‘Ohana Fun Center and Native Intelligence at 45 Market St. in Wailuku. General admission each night is $15 for adults, $6 for keiki (12 and under) and $20 for reserved seating (sold only at Kaanapali Beach Hotel). To enjoy the show up close, get premium seats for $25.

A variety of plate lunches, salads and desserts will be available for purchase throughout the weekend. The hotel provides free offsite parking with shuttle service to the hotel, or guests may take advantage of valet service for $11.

Each keiki participant is required to perform twice during the competition: kahiko (ancient) and ‘auana (modern) hula styles. The kahiko requires that dancers perform the same mele (song), however, each kumu hula’s interpretation reflects their unique style.

Dancers are judged on their chanting, the execution of the dance and the appropriateness of their costume and adornments. This year’s kahiko chants were written by Keali‘i Reichel.

Competitors not only vie for solo awards, but may also enter as palua (boy and girl pairs). The ‘auana competition also has an award for musicianship — an integral part of the performance and a real treat for the audience.

Led by head judge Hokulani Holt, this year’s panel of distinguished cultural experts includes Leialoha Lim Amina, Tony Conjugacion, Shane Kamakaokalani “Maka” Herrod, Vicky Holt-Takamine, Charlani Kalama, Luana Kawa‘a, Auli‘i Mitchell and Kathy Holoaumoku Ralar.

Each judge is a kumu hula whose award-winning halau have participated in competitions all over the world, and they continue to share their talents throughout the state, Mainland and overseas.

Prior to competing on stage at Hula O Na Keiki, each keiki and ‘opio (teenager) entrant has an interview with the judges, where they are asked to share their mana‘o (thoughts) about the dances they will be performing and explain their choice of costume and adornments. The judges’ interview counts for 25 percent of each student’s overall score.

To purchase event tickets, or for detailed information on the two-day event, call Kaanapali Beach Hotel direct at (808) 661-0011.

This year, Kaanapali Beach Hotel is proud to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Ke Kula O Ka Po‘okela, the hotel’s foundational cultural education program for its employees.

Kama‘aina rates start from just $99 per night.