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Festival to pay tribute to Emma Farden Sharpe

By Staff | Aug 21, 2014

Emma Farden Sharpe learned traditional hula from Kauhai Likua, dancer for King Kamehameha IV’s royal court.

LAHAINA – An event on Saturday, Aug. 30, in Banyan Tree Park will honor renowned L?hain? Kumu Hula Emma Farden Sharpe.

The Emma Farden Sharpe Hula Festival will feature auana (new) and kahiko (old) hula, exhibits, workshops, artisans and a lifetime achievement award dedicated to a pillar in the hula community.

“Aunty Emma” made it her mission to perpetuate hula and Hawaiian culture, so she created the Emma Farden Sharpe Hula Festival that started in conjunction with Na Mele O Maui, a choir contest between Maui County schools that continues today.

“Aunty was one of the founders of Na Mele and added on a hula festival in her name. Sadly, it phased out in the early ’90s. Today, we want to breathe life back into this event and continue perpetuating her legacy as a ‘L?hain? Treasure,’ ” noted Daryl Fujiwara, who is helping to coordinate the festival with LahainaTown Action Committee.

The opening ceremony at 9 a.m. will be followed by hula performances by Halau Hula Kauluokala under the direction of Uluwehi Guerrero, the Napili Kai Foundation, L?hain?-Honolua Senior Citizens Club and Aunty Emma’s halau, Na Pua O Kapi’olani Hula Studio, now under the direction of her grandniece, Kathy Holoaumoku Ralar. Aunty Emma’s niece, Mihana Aluli Souza, will also perform.

At 9:30 a.m., Kumu Hula Ralar will teach a hula workshop. Register by calling (808) 264-8779; space is limited.

At noon, Molokai Kumu Hula Moana Dudiot will be honored for her dedication to hula.

At 4 p.m., the closing ceremony will commence. All of Aunty Emma’s former students are invited to gather and dance the Farden family classic “Puamana.”

At 6 p.m., enjoy Hawaiian falsetto music by the award-winning band Kuini.

“Movie in the Park” at 7:30 p.m. will feature the internationally acclaimed “Kumu Hina.” The film’s content may not be suitable for all audiences; for more information, visit www.kumuhina.com. The movie will be shown on the lawn of the Old L?hain? Courthouse (Pioneer Inn side); bring blankets and low beach chairs to sit on.

Under the Banyan Tree, there will be lei-making, keiki activities, Maui Made crafters and artisans from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

From the 1920s through the late 1980s, Emma, known as the “Fabulous Farden,” was a popular Hawaiian entertainer.

She brought authentic hula to many thousands of visitors, as well as dancers who would then become leading kumu (teachers), who joined in her vision to preserve the dances of antiquity.

These include the legendary Nina Maxwell and Ralar, who are now continuing these traditions to an even newer generation of dancers.

Aunty Emma learned traditional hula from three teachers. Her first, as a young girl, was Kauhai Likua, dancer for King Kamehameha IV’s royal court. Likua was her true mentor, whose style she passed on to her own dedicated students.

Another mentor was hula master Joseph Ilala’ole, from whom some 90 percent of hula taught today can be linked, festival organizers reported. Sharpe’s third kumu was Hawaiian scholar Mary Kawena Pukui.

Event sponsors include the County of Maui, L?hain? Hawaiian Civic Club, L?hain?Town Action Committee, Daryl Fujiwara-Smythe Fujiwara Design, Na Pua O Kapi’olani Hula Studio, Kathy Holoaumoku Ralar and ‘Ohana Farden.

For more information on the festival, call (808) 264-8779.