‘Uā ka Pihe

The King Kamehameha Hula and Chant Competition 2009

unsettling interpretations of traditional material -- by harmonies, tempo changes, irregular rhythms, ‘āla‘apapa texts stuffed into ‘ōlapa forms of delivery, contrapuntal choreographies, strobe-light instrument work, and hana keaka interludes -- the new look of Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima was unapologetically old and spin-free. Men and women together for the first time. Men for the first time. Women for the twenty-third time. "Hana Waimea" as taught by Aunty Edith McKinzie; "No Luna" as taught by Aunty Maiki; "A Maunakea ‘o Kalani" as taught by Aunty Maka Bacon and Uncle Ka‘upena Wong. The three performances brought tears to this observer‘s one good eye and invoked memories of an Aunty Maiki ‘ūniki in 1976 at Paumalu, Pūpūkea. The men there danced like men, and the women danced like women, but they all danced the same hula and looked, above all else, like Maiki's students. I got the same impression in the three-quarters-empty NBC Arena. No fiddling, no tinkering, no concession to fashion, no crisis of identity. Just HMI from head to Aito. ‘Uā ka pihe! A shout is raised for the old folks and their defenders.  

In a kahiko competition characterized by new and often