I Ka Leo Ke Ola

Mamiya Theatre, June 10, 2012

Pā’ū” style, in what had become more kuahu than theater. Then we tried something so old that it seemed new: story-telling with hula, and hula with storytelling, all with the intent of honoring the nūpepa traditions of 19th and early 20th century Hawai‘i in which mele and mo‘olelo enjoyed an easy and mutually illuminating relationship.

We opened by carrying our plant guardians on stage and dressing ourselves, “Kākua

First up: the story of Hi‘iaka’s journey through Kailua during which she experiences first love with Ka‘anahau, encounters Hauwahine mā at Kawainui, and turns with regret and resolve to the hardships of the trail ahead.


Next: the sweetly told and danced memories of a more recent journey: that of our Merrie Monarch ladies to Hā‘ena, Hawai‘i, the home of “Ke Ha’a La Puna i ka Makani” and “Lei o Hā’ena,” the setting of the Hōpoe verse of “No Luna,” and the inspiration for Kahikinaʻs newly composed and choreographed “Aia i Hā‘ena.”


After that: Moses Goods in the one-man, multi-character ha‘i mo‘olelo “Nanaue” (the shark-man of Waipi‘o Valley) whose story is interlaced with nūpepa-like transitions to such relevant mele hula as “Pūnana ka Manu” and “Kananaka.”


And finally: a story-telling session with the kumu as she remembers learning “Makalapua” in the living room of Aunty Sally Woods Naluai, of putting “A Maunakea ‘o Kalani” back together again from the leo-but-not-the-hula memory of Ka‘upena Wong and the hula-but-not-the-leo memory of Aunty Pat Namaka Bacon, and of learning “Nani Kīlauea” from Kalani Akana, the friend who initiated our now twelve-year involvlement with the Festival of Pacific Arts.


The concert, in fact, was held as a fundraiser for the Hawai‘i delegation to the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in the Solomon Islands. It was conceived and conducted by Kahikina de Silva and pulled off with less than three weeks of practice and publicity by a hiki-no team of ‘Apiki, Lanihuli, Kupukupu, and Lālā Ola dancers. Although we performed for a less-than-full house, the consensus of participants and audience was clear: this really worked; letʻs use it as a building block for future concerts; hana hou. I ka leo ke ola: there is certainly life in the voice of story and dance.


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