Video by David Corrigan
It was a performance never before seen in modern times. Adorned in kapa, the fabric made from beaten tree bark in the Hawaiian tradition, Kumu Hula Nalani Kanaka’ole directs Hilo’s own Halau O Kekuhi through another stirring Merrie Monarch Festival Ho’ike opening performance.
This video shows only the highlights of the much longer hula set. It includes the final mele honoring the kapa masters who lent their talents to creating the apparel for the halau.
The halau is practically royalty in the world of hula. From the Halau O Kekuhi website:
Halau O Kekuhi is a traditional classical dance company that can account for seven generations of family practitioners and leadership in the indigenous Hawaiian performing arts of hula (dance) and oli (chant).
The leadership of this dance company is transmitted through matrilineal succession and with the passing of Aunty Edith, her daughters Nälani Kanaka‘ole and Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele are the Kumu Hula of the Hälau O Kekuhi. The Hälau O Kekuhi is celebrated for its mastery of the ‘Aiha‘a style of hula and chant. The ‘Aiha‘a is a low postured, vigorous, bombastic style of hula, which springs from the eruptive volcano persona, Pele and Hi‘iaka. Hälau O Kekuhi has earned local, state, national and international recognition for their art. Hälau O Kekuhi is also the primary fundraising entity for the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation Higher Education Scholarship program which has been able to give out over $113,000.00 in scholarships since 1991.