homepage logo

Festival to honor renowned Lahaina Kumu Hula Emma Farden Sharpe

By Staff | Sep 24, 2015

The Emma Farden Sharpe Hula Festival will feature hula performances, lei making, keiki activities, crafters and a movie screening. PHOTO BY HIDEHARU YOSHIKAWA.

LAHAINA – On Sunday, Sept. 27, the community will honor renowned Lahaina Kumu Hula Emma Farden Sharpe with a celebration of hula – auana (new) and kahiko (old) – as well as exhibits, workshops, artisans and a lifetime achievement award dedicated to a pillar in the hula community.

The Emma Farden Sharpe Hula Festival is slated in Banyan Tree Park from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

According to event organizers, “Aunty Emma” made it her mission to perpetuate hula and Hawaiian culture, so she created many events and sat on numerous community boards and organizations.

One of these projects was the Emma Farden Sharpe Hula Festival that started in conjunction with Na Mele O Maui, a choir contest between Maui County schools.

Na Mele continues today, but the hula festival was canceled. Today, hula enthusiasts are breathing life back into this event and continuing to perpetuate Sharpe’s legacy as a Lahaina Treasure.


The opening ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. followed by hula performances by Halau Hula Kamaluokaleihulu under the direction of Kahulu Maluo, Pukalani Hula Hale under the direction of Hi’ilei Maxwell-Juan, Lahaina-Honolua Seniors, Napili Kai Foundation and Na Pua O Kapi’olani Hula Studio (under the direction of Sharpe’s grand niece, Kathy Holoaumoku Ralar) and a special performance by members of ‘Ohana Farden.

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

At 3 p.m., kumu Ualani Maka’ike Calleja will be honored for her dedication to hula.

The closing ceremony will commence shortly after 4 p.m. All of Sharpe’s former students are invited to gather and dance the Farden family classic “Puamana.”

Under the Banyan Tree, there will be lei making, keiki activities, Maui Made crafters and artisans from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A movie will be shown on the lawn of the Old Lahaina Courthouse on the Pioneer Inn side; the community is invited to bring low beach chairs and hali’i to enjoy the movie.

Festival honoree Calleja of Halau Hula I Kona Mau Lima has been teaching hula for more than two decades. She learned hula from revered kumu, including Darrell Lupenui, Pali Aihue and Keali’i Reichel.

In 1998, she began teaching hula basics at the University of Hawaii Maui College. She opened Halau Hula I Kona Mau Lima in 2000 with the blessings of

her kumu.

In 2005, she took on one of the biggest kuleana of her life, entering Maui County Correctional Center to teach hula to the incarcerated. She gave them opportunities to grow in hula by entering these kane and wahine in the annual Maui hula competition, “Ku Mai Ka Hula,” and prepared their hula performances for their participation in “The Queen’s Story,” written and directed by Lane Nishikawa.

She credits her father, who instilled a deep respect for hula and the culture – where the learning never ends.

From the 1920s through the late 1980s, Sharpe – the “fabulous Farden,” as she was known – dominated entertainment in the Hawaiian style.

She brought authentic hula to uncounted thousands of visitors as well as dancers who themselves would become leading kumu (teachers), who joined in her vision to preserve the dances of antiquity. These include the legendary Nina Maxwell and grandniece Ralar, who brings these traditions to an even newer generation of dancers.

Auntie Emma learned the traditional hula she passed on to thousands from three teachers. Her first, as a young girl, was Kauhai Likua, dancer for Kamehameha IV’s royal court. Another was hula master Joseph Ilala’ole, from whom some 90 percent of hula taught today can be linked. Likua was her true mentor, whose style she passed on to her own dedicated students.

Sharpe’s third kumu was Hawaiian scholar Mary Kawena Pukui.

Event sponsors include the County of Maui, Lahaina Hawaiian Civic Club, LahainaTown 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.