By Patti Cook
The Beamer Solomon Halau O Po’ohala’s 5th generation Hula Loea Hulali Solomon Covington – the hula master whose kuleana (responsibility) is to be “the culture keeper” of a particular style of hula, chant or music – and her work to “po’ohala” (pass on) this knowledge to the next generations — will be in the spotlight during the halau’s fourth hula drama at Kahilu Theatre on Sat., March 16, 2013.
Doors to Kahilu Theatre will open at 5 p.m. and the show will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets for the performance are $15 presale, or $25 at the door. For tickets in advance, call 938-6357 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hula Loea Covington will be joined on stage by her sister, Malama Solomon, the halau’s Kakau ‘Olelo (historian), and hula school’s keiki to kupuna dancers. Together, they will share an extraordinary glimpse of this family’s 150-year hula legacy as it has transitioned through Hawai’i’s own historical evolution, from pre-contact native traditions as a sovereign Pacific Island Kingdom to a 21st Century American State.
Hulali Covington actually wears two papale – hats – for the halau. First as Kumu Hula, the instructor of this particular school of dance. Her second responsibility as Hula Loea means she alone is entitled to enhance the style handed down by a respected line of Hawaiian women that reaches back to the mid-1800s.
The story will begin with Great Great Grandmother Isabella Hale’ala Desha, the first Hula Loea who taught her daughter, Helen Desha Beamer. Great Grandmother Helen Desha Beamer, also a celebrated Hawaiian composer, shared the hula traditions with her daughter-in-law, Grandmother Louise Leiomalama Walker Beamer, who in turn taught her daughter. That daughter is Flora Tita Leiomalama Desha Beamer Solomon, mother of Hula Loea Covington and Kakau ‘Olelo Solomon. Better known simply, “Tita Beamer Solomon,” she became the recognized choreographer who, in practice, formalized the Beamer Solomon method of dance, which she passed on to her two daughters.
But the story doesn’t end there. The 6th generation – Kakau ‘Olelo Solomon’s daughter, Leiomalama Tamasese Solomon, will be the featured dancer carrying on the legacy. Leiomalama recently placed first as a solo dancer at the 2012 Moku O Keawe International Hula Festival. Her competition number was her Great Great Grandmother Helen Desha Beamer’s renowned “Kimo Hula,” which tells of the Henderson family home in Hilo in the early 1900’s and the glories of its magnificent flower garden, named “Moanikeala” – a fragrant breeze.
A UH-Manoa freshman, Leiomalama also recently presented a solo hula at Opening Day ceremonies for the 2013 State Senate.
The Kahilu show – as the fourth in its “Eia Ka Hula” series, is titled, “He Makana Aloha – The Gift of Love.” It will share Hula Loea Covington’s impressive style of dance and many of her original choreographies through renditions of classic Hawaiian songs, Beamer family music and chants authored by guest artist Kumu Keala Ching.
Distinguishing this halau is its attention to proper execution of the basic foot patterns of the hula, which takes seven years of dedicated practice to master. Interwoven with the steps and movements are lessons in traditional Hawaiian core values of Aloha (love) and Lokahi (unity), values that prepare students to achieve as a soloist or within a group.
There’s more to this story than the beauty of masterful dancing and music. The underlying kaona – or hidden meaning – is of the ongoing challenges faced by both Hula Loea Covington and Kakau ‘Olelo Solomon to perpetuate traditional native dances in the 21st century. They conclude the key to the continuance of the art form is leadership’s ability to connect native Hawaiian hula mana’o (thoughts) dating back to the 1700’s to students and families as they live in today’s world. These associations demand constant creativity. As these connections are made by the students, families and the audience, the sister’s believe their inherited hula legacy will continue.
Providing a stunning backdrop for a portion of this performance will again be a selection of the late Hawaiian artist- historian Herb Kawainui Kane’s Voyager collection to help illustrate songs, dances and chants that commemorate the historic Pacific migrations that turned a trackless blue Pacific Ocean that encompasses one-third of the earth’s surface into a network of familiar seaways for people who shared a common ancestry.
Providing musical accompaniment to the performance will be Russell Paio on lead guitar, Ha’I Kelly on bass and Kama Hopkins on guitar, along with Hula Loea Covington on ‘ukulele.