She said in previous years, elders in the hula community found themselves dismayed by the dances performed. Nothing about them was familiar to them. Traditional dances were being ignored in favor of newer variations.
But this year the küpuna (elders) were delighted. In the kahiko (ancient) portion of the competition there were four mele ma'i (procreation chants) performed. Of the four, two were top winners: "Tü 'Oe,"performed by the Ke Kai O Ka Hiki halau, led by kumu hula O'Brian Eselau; and "He Ma'i No Kalani Ha'u Ha'u E," performed by Hälau Nä Mamo O Pu'uanahulu, with kumu hula Sonny Ching.
I was glad to see that mele ma'i is the in thing now. After all, my halau has by now become quite adept at dancing "Ka Ua I Hämäkua," a procreation chant (also known as a genital chant) honoring Kamehameha the Great. As I told my class, by now we are veritable gynecologists of the mele ma'i.
In other news, I'm excited about the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, which has been created in Portland by the Ford Foundation to support and promote the arts and cultures of the American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native communities. The new CEO of the foundation is a native Hawaiian, Tara Lulani Arquette, formerly the executive director of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, who is moving from Honolulu to lead the organization. 'E komo mai (welcome) to Portland, Tara!
I studied hula for three years in Aloha, Oregon, and along the way developed a passion for all things Hawaiian. I also studied 'ukulele and the Hawaiian language.
When I'm not hula'ing, 'uking or practicing 'olelo Hawai'i, I am a professional writer with years of experience writing for local, regional and national publications. Most notably, I was a regular for The Wall Street Journal for 17 years.
Someday I hope to write a book about my obsession with Hawaiian culture.