(BIVN) – The deep connection between the ʻĪlālāʻole Hula Tradition and Kumu Hula Kimo Alama – and subtle nuance of his hula – was the subject of a Merrie Monarch Cultural Enrichment Program talk held at ʻImiloa on Thursday.
Kumu Alama spoke before a full crowd, and relayed some chicken skin stories from his own life of teaching hula and chanting, and how his journey has been interwoven with the tradition of ʻĪlālāʻole.
The ʻImiloa Astronomy Center program materials explains more:
ʻĪlālāʻole passed away in 1965 and was the last of the nineteenth century chanters and kumu hula to have lived in the 20th century. He was very well respected in the community not only for hula and mele but also for his extensive knowledge of things Hawaiian. He had lived with Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani as a boy while he attended the Royal School. Because of his being a part of the Kamehameha family, he is largely responsible for much of the repertory of the chants and hula that we have for the Kamehameha family today. Queen Emma was his favorite aliʻi and she would stay with the ʻĪlālāʻole family when she passed through Kaʻū and Puna. We are fortunate for her chants and dances, as well as those for Kamehameha IV, that were remembered and passed on through ʻĪlālāʻole. His approach to hula comes from a definite Hawaiian mind and heart.
ʻĪlālāʻole learned hula from a grandfather who taught hula in Kaʻū and one of his teachers was 100 years old! This means that the teacher was born and raised before contact with the outside world and those chants and hula were definitely of ancient traditions. When ʻĪlālāʻole’s daughter, “Mama Betty” Atkinson, passed away, she named Kimo Alama Keaulana as a “hānai” son. As a hānai, he is proud and privileged to be a part of this impressive hula family and lineage.
Kumu Alama was also joined by Kaʻiulani Damas to demonstrate the hula, ʻUla Noweo.
ʻImiloa’s Merrie Monarch Cultural Enrichment Programs continue Friday with Papakōlea’s Finest at 10 a.m. and Hawaiʻi’s Music at Its Finest at 1 p.m.