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Show to highlight Farden family’s rich legacy of music and hula

By Staff | Nov 26, 2010

From left, Martha Medeiros, Bernardette Kidder and Pualalea Cabacungan help carry on the Farden family’s legacy. Photo by Jose Morales

KAHULUI — The Schaefer International Gallery exhibit “Ho’oulu: The Inspiration of Hula” opened earlier this month at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, setting the stage for a performance on Saturday night, Nov. 27, at the MACC’s McCoy Studio Theater called “Generations — The Farden Family in Hula and Music.”

In this intimate venue, the audience will experience the talented descendants of Charles and Annie Farden and the “Sweet Voices of Lahaina” up close and personal.

“It really revolves around Aunty Emma’s legacy, because the hula is what they’re celebrating — the hula traditions of the Farden family — and really our hula traditions started with Aunty Emma (Kapiolani Farden Sharpe),” family historian Hailama Farden explained.

“Especially,” the Kamehameha Schools Kapalama Campus vice principal continued, “because hula was forbidden by her father. Her mother knew that Aunty Emma was studying privately, but father did not know; so she had to sneak away to learn. Although she never said these words, I know that by her description of what she studied, she learned hula kapu from Kauhailikua.”

“Tutu Kauhailikua was a dancer in the court of Kamehameha IV. I know she was a Lahaina person, because her father was her teacher. Her father’s name was Lituanui,” Hailama added, “… which is beautiful because it brings the Lahaina hula.”

In an interview with the Bishop Museum, Hailama said, Aunty Emma “talks about her learning, and she said ‘what I teach is basically from my teacher, Kauhailikua — her fashion, her style.’ She had two other teachers, Joseph Ilalaole and Mary Kawena Pukui, but most of her stylings are from Kauhailikua.”

(Kathy) Holoau Ralar, grandniece of Aunty Edna, is a kumu hula of the Na Pua O Kapiolani Hula Studio, along with senior kumu Martha Medeiros. Both studied under Aunty Emma.

Ralar described her grandaunt’s style.

“We dance very flowery, meaning the fingers flow. The fingers are together, but they flow very, very gracefully, not so regimental and straight,” she said.

Ralar and Hailama will co-emcee the evening performance.

“The main musicians are our family group. The group is called Puamana, which was formed by Aunty Irmgard (Aluli). It consists of two of her daughters, Aima (McManus) and Mihana (Souza), and Luanna (McKenney). Luanna is Irmgard’s niece. She is the daughter of the first boy, who was Carl Farden,” Ralar said.

The opening act on Saturday night is just a prelude for the lively celebration of song and dance.

The arrangement, composed by Aunty Emma and recorded by the Annie Kerr Singers, is called “Hula o Pakipika.”

“The original title was ‘Hula Pakipika;’ ‘Pakipika’ is ‘Pacific,’ right?” Hailama said.

“It became a sister’s dance,” the immediate past-president of Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts recalled.

There were 13 siblings in the Farden family, and seven of the sisters lived to adulthood. Each sister will be represented in this festive family dance by a direct line descendant.

Hailama detailed the arrangement, by verse.

Aunty Diana danced Hilo verse first; her granddaughter (Jenna Fernandes from Hawaii Kai) will be dancing that for her.

“The second verse belonged to Maui, Aunty Emma,” explained Hailama.

As her grandniece, Ralar will dance this verse.

“Aunty Maude was the Oahu verse. Bernardette (Kidder), being our senior cousin at age 75, will do the verse for Aunty Maude. Her daughter lives in Washington State. If her daughter were here, she would fill in for her mother,” Hailama noted.

“And the Kauai verse is Aunty Irmgard’s verse. Mihana will dance for her mother.

The song then takes you back to Lahaina, Hailama described.

This is Aunty Edna’s verse, he said.

At 92, Edna Pualani Farden Bekeart, number 12 in the line of siblings, is the family matriarch, the sole remaining Farden family sibling.

Aunty Edna will be flying in from Waimea on the Big Island to join the family celebration.

Her daughter, Marquita Dennison, will dance this verse for her, Hailama said.

Luanna McKenney will dance the first haina.

“The second haina, the entire family will get together and dance. We just love that song, because all the aunties danced,” Hailama remembered.

The second act is a chant: “Kananaka.

“It is an old chant from Lahaina that Aunty Emma taught us all. She told us she learned it from the old folks — the tutu ladies of Lahaina,” Hailama said.

The next composition was written by Aunty Irmgard Aluli and Mary Kawena Pukui called Maui.

Puamana Farden, the youngest daughter of Buddy Farden, the youngest sibling, is the lead in this set.

“It really talks about how proud she (Irma) is of the island of Maui. She speaks about this being her birthplace; it being majestic. ‘Stand firm as the island of Maui. Stand firm as the island of Maui,’ ” Puamana explained.

Other nostalgic and lively hula tunes will be featured during the night.

Hailama will dance “Boy from Laupahoehoe;” Holo (Ralar) will dance to a song written by Aunty Irmgard and Frank Kahala, “Pua Mohala i Ka Weikiu,” and “we’ll be doing ‘Ginger Memories’ by Aunty Edna,” Hailama added.

“We’re gonna play a CD of the Farden sisters singing. This goes back to ’57. The Farden sisters recorded about eight or nine singles in ’57. One of them is ‘That’s How to Do the Hula.’ In this song we’re recognizing Aunty Maude, because Aunty Maude is singing a solo the second time through.

There will also be keiki performing.

Talking story… telling the history… will be part of the program style,” Ralar said.

“Because we are so close to the people in the McCoy Studio, I have a feeling that people are going to be laughing and want to stand up to hula,” she added. “It will take on a world of its own.”

“I think the audience will have a very intimate reaction with the family. I’m sure there’s going to be lots of storytelling,” Puamana added.

“I’m looking forward to the performance, because it is an outstanding representation of the genealogical continuation of hula and music in the Farden family. They have contributed to several generations of people who enjoy their music and hula tradition. It is also to support and encourage families to maintain a family tradition, because we and future generations are the beneficiaries,” MACC Cultural Director Hokulani Holt said.

Tickets for “Generations” are $25 for adults and $12.50 for keiki. Call 242-SHOW.