Ho’ike Hawai’i 2013

The 16th annual Ho‛ike Hawai‛i competition was held in Orlando on July 27-28, 2013.  It’s a weekend that many of us look forward to … a chance to renew friendships from previous years and to make new friends for the coming years.   As always, the competition is high quality, with beautiful costumes and wonderful music.

This year’s competition brought dancers from many places:



Only the Gracious Ladies (Makuahine, or Kupuna) competed from my halau this year, and we did well again:  3rd place in ‛auana (Haleakala Hula) and 2nd place in kahiko (Oli O Aulani).  The competitors in each category are excellent dancers, even if they don’t place in the final results which are announced at the end of the competition.

The competition also features many talented musicians who are either local from the Orlando area, or within the state of Florida, or they come to accompany a particular halau.  This year I was introduced to the music of Komakakino who sang for Halau Ha’a Kea O Mokihana.  I purchased their CD, ‛O Kēia Ka Manawa… Now is the time… and have really been enjoying their music.

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The Makaha Sons at Ho’ike 2012

I was introduced to the music of The Makaha Sons (John Koko, Jerome Koko, and Louis “Uncle Moon” Kauakahi) very early in my hula journey.  Their CD, Heke Wale No: Only the Very Best of the Makaha Sons, was my second Hawaiian music purchase and I’ve done my best to wear it out, along with all the others that they’ve recorded that I can get my hands on!   They’ve been singing for over 30 years and have won several Na Hoku Hanohano awards (the Hawaiian Grammys), and their music draws my soul to the islands.

Often during their concerts they invite different halau up to the stage to dance with them while they sing.   Our halau had danced with them before, but I didn’t even think about putting it on my bucket list.  But oh– how wonderful it would be!  Then, for the concert in 2012, our halau was invited to dance, and those of us who were competing would be the participants.  Sweet!

Then came devastating news:  John Kapualani Koko died on June 25, 2012, age 51.  We were stunned.  Many of us knew that John had heart issues that spanned many years but he was always so vibrant, so full of the spirit of aloha, and we would forget just how seriously ill he really was (he was awaiting a heart transplant at the time of his death).  And many of us were friends with John on Facebook; we always got birthday greetings and often a comment on one of our own posts.

As July approached, our hearts were torn: excitement about competition, excitement about dancing with The Sons, countered by deep grief over John’s death.  The concert was billed as a celebration of John’s life and it was certainly that.  We danced, knowing that he watched us from above,  smiling broadly as we honored him with our hula.  His son, John, sang a Fijian farewell song, Isa Lei… I cannot convey in words the power of that performance.  He sang it in Fijian and altho we did not understand the lyrics, our hearts understood.

Isa Lei – The Farewell Song

Isa, Isa you are my only treasure
Must you leave me, so lonely and forsaken?

As the roses will miss the sun at dawning,
Every moment my heart for you is yearning

Isa Lei, the purple shadow falling,
Sad the morrow will dawn upon my sorrow;
O forget not, when you’re far away,
Precious moments at Sonaisali

Isa, Isa my heart was filled with pleasure,
From the moment I heard your tender greeting;
Mid the sunshine, we spent the hours together,
Now so swiftly those happy hours are fleeting

O’er the ocean your island home is calling,
Happy country where roses bloom and splender;
O if I could but journey there beside you
Then forever my heart would sing in rapture.

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A new year

It’s time to catch up on what’s been happening on my hula journey.  The big event of the summer was Ho‛ike Hawai‛i in Orlando.  It was the 15th annual event and certainly the biggest one I’ve attended in 5 years.  There were numerous halau from many different places, including Hawai’i, Nevada, Virginia, California, Georgia, Florida, Canada, and Japan.

Because of the large number of halau this year, the Hawaiian segment of the competion was spread over two days with both group and solo competitions.  ‛Auana was held on Saturday, and kahiko was moved to Sunday morning, followed by Tahitian, Maori, Samoan, and Tongan competitions and exhibitions.

Our halau did well:  we took a 3rd place in wahine kahiko, a 2nd place in kupuna (gracious ladies) kahiko, a 3rd place in kupuna ‛auana, and 3rd place (ages 11-16) in solo ‛auana and solo kahiko.  While we are all very proud of our results, we were especially excited for our young lady who placed third in two categories in her very first competition!

Saturday night was The Makaha Sons concert, a bittersweet time for all of us.  More to come on that very special evening.

So now we will begin competition mode in the next few weeks.  We were definitely challenged by the caliber of the 2012 competition  (it’s always excellent but this year seemed to be exceptionally so) and we are ready to take on the challenge as we know several groups who attended last year will be returning in July 2013.  This year’s theme is the Island of Maui.

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Merrie Monarch 2012

After a year of intense preparation for the annual Merrie Monarch Festival, the competition has come and gone.  I have only been able to watch a few of the terrific performances so far, and am in awe of my east coast friends who sat up pretty much all night, three nights in a row, to watch the performances live (I wussed out, I’m afraid).

I must also admit to being positively thrilled that Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima, with Kumu Hula Māpuana de Silva, did so well this year.  Kumu Māpu has been bringing her halau to Merrie Monarch for over 30 years, and this year they did extraordinarily well in the competition.

The Results

Miss Aloha Hula 2012:  This year’s winner is Rebecca Lilinoekekapahauomaunakea Sterling of Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima.  This young lady began dancing with Kumu Māpu when she was four; 20 years later, she has won this most prestigious prize.

Hula Kahiko:


  1. He Lei ‘Ala No Likelike : Halau O Ke ‘A’ali’i Ku Makani , Kumu Hula Manu Boyd, Kaneohe, Oahu
  2. Hiehie Olomana : Halau Mōhala ‘Ilima, Kumu Hula Māpuana de Silva, Kaohao, Kailua, Oahu
  3. Maika’i Ka ‘Oiwi O Ka’ala : Halau Hula Olana, Na Kumu Hula Olana Ai and Howard Ai, Puuloa, Aiea, Oahu


  1. Hanohano Waimea : Halau I Ka Wekiu, Na Kumu Hula Karl Veto Baker & Michael Nalanakilaekolu Casupang, Pauoa, Honolulu, Oahu
  2. Pōhaku o Kaua’i : Halau Hula ‘O Kawaili’ulā , Kumu Hula Chinky Māhoe, Kailua, Oahu
  3. Kakuhihewa : Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka La, Kumu Hula Kaleo Trinidad, Kapalama Uka, Honolulu, Oahu

Hula ‘Auana:


  1. Hiehie Kīlaulani : Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima, Kumu Hula Māpuana de Silva, Kaohao, Kailua, Oahu
  2. ‘Iolialoha : Halau I Ka Wekiu, Na Kumu Hula Karl Veto Baker & Michael Nalanakilaekolu Casupang, Pauoa, Honolulu, Oahu
  3. Punalu’u : Ka La Onohi Mai O Kaehae, Na Kumu Hula Tracie Kaonohilani Farias Lopes and Keawe Lopes, Kahauiki, Oahu


  1. Pua Lawena : Halau I Ka Wekiu, Na Kumu Hula Karl Veto Baker & Michael Nalanakilaekolu Casupang, Pauoa, Honolulu, Oahu
  2. Ha’uha’u E : Halau Hula O Kawaili’ulā, Kumu Hula Chinky Māhoe, Kailua, Oahu
  3. He Mele Ho’ohanohano Kēia, No Ka Ho’okūkū Hei Pipi : Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka La, Kumu Hula Kaleo Trinidad, Kapalama Uka, Honolulu, Oahu

Another wonderful aspect of Merrie Monarch is the gorgeous costuming, whether kahiko or ‘auana.  The dresses for this ‘auana are simply stunning:  None Hula / E Maliu Mai, Halau Kawaili’ulā, Kumu Hula Chinky Māhoe.  As are the dresses in the Miss Aloha Hula 2011 farewell performance by Tori Hulali Canha, with Henohea Kane (2009) and Oralani Koa.

Additional results are here.  Videos are available on youtube and at KFVE, Honolulu.

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Catchin’ up…

Paeʻaina 2012:  This was my 4th and final paeʻaina!  It feels so very good to have it completed.  Our little group, Team Kaunaʻoa, choreographed and performed a kahiko.  Our theme was Princess Kaʻiulani (her full name:  Victoria Kaʻiulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawēkiu i Lunalilo Cleghorn) and our hula was entitled simply “Kaʻiulani”.   In addition to the choreography, we designed our outfits (peasant blouses, pantaloons, and a paʻu skirt–  the design on the fabric turned out to be the halau colors!  Unplanned but delightful!)  Using fern fronds and the occasional orchid, we made lei poʻo for our heads and lei kupeʻe for our wrists and ankles.  We purchased maile leis from the big island of Hawaiʻi to complete our costumes.  My maile lei is now draped over the bulletin board in my office and each morning when I open the door there is a lovely fragrance in the room.  So nice!  Next year we will be judges for this event.

Merrie Monarch 2012:  This is Merrie Monarch week at the Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium in Hilo.  There are 23 halau scheduled to perform, including two from California and one from Las Vegas.  Thursday April 12 is the Miss Aloha Hula competition; Friday April 13 is kahiko; Saturday April 14 is ʻauana.  The competition begins at 6 p.m. local time and you can watch it on your computer (or tv if you’re local); that is unfortunately midnight to 6 a.m. here on the east coast so I’ll be catching up with the performances at a later time.

Merrie Monarch

Hoʻike Hawaiʻi competition, Orlando, 2012:  This is the next big event for our halau and we are all hard at work.  Last year the gracious ladies performed ʻauana; this year we will be doing both ʻauana and kahiko.  [Watch for the sales of Icy Hot to soar!]  The wahine have also begun their practices, and we have at least one soloist this year.  We are all excited for her as she begins her competition journey.

Hoʻike Hawaiʻi

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Siva Samoa

Talofa!  I’d seen the Samoan siva at some point during my first year of hula and loved both the dance and the dancer.   She danced to Mamalu O Samoa and it looked like so much fun that it went on my bucket list as something I wanted to learn someday.

When I got to the Ho’ike workshop in December, I discovered that they’d changed the time for the Samoan siva class.  In past years it had always been scheduled at the same time as hula so I had pretty much decided I’d never get the chance.   Ten of us  signed up:  9 haoles and 1 Hawaiian!  Turns out it was on their bucket lists too!

The song that we learned is Musika Malie (by Pacific Soul), and oh, what fun we had!  Both the hand and foot movements are quite different from hula and parts of  it were a real challenge.  We laughed until we cried, and the three-hour classes seemed to last only 15 minutes.  We persevered, though, and conquered it!

On Sunday afternoon of the workshop there is an exhibition time where everyone shows what they’ve learned.  We did our siva and proclaimed that we were Saaaamoan, at least for 5 minutes!  And we all plan to return to this class at the 2012 workshop.

Here’s an example of the traditional siva… unfortunately I don’t know the name of the song or who recorded it.


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Ho’ike Workshop Weekend

This weekend the Ho‛ike Hawai‛i organization will be holding its 6th annual workshop. I attended my first workshop four years ago and made my first (and thus far only) Hawaiian quilt. It’s a gorgeous thing with turtles and dolphins frolicking on a darkening ocean with starlight flickering on the waves.

The last two years I’ve taken the hula class with Kumu Hula Mapuana de Silva from Halau Mohala Ilima in Ka‛ōhao, Kailua, Hawai‛i.  We’ve done hula noho (seated kahiko), ‛auana, and chanting. Kumu Mapu’s husband, Kihei, is a scholar and songwriter, and does an astonishing amount of research for the hulas that we learn, and we have been blessed to have him teach us as well.

This year I’ll be taking the hula class once again, and it’ll be a special time, as the class will be taught by my own Kumu, Kawehi Punahele. We’ll be learning a kahiko (Aia Emmalani la i ka uka) and an ‘auana (Palisa [Paris], by Kuana Torres Kahele.  It is on the cd Kaunaloa, which is one of 13 music albums on the preliminary ballot for the Grammy nominee.)

The workshop covers many Polynesian traditions.  In addition to the hula class, I’m also taking a lei making class.   Other courses include:

  • Hawaiian hula
  • Tahitian ori
  • Maori poi ball dance
  • Samoan siva
  • Samoan knife dance
  • Hawaiian quilt making
  • Tahitian toere drumming
  • Ukulele playing
  • Bone fish hook carving
  • Ipu heke making
  • Fish hook tying

Someday I hope to also take the Samoan Siva (a dance), the Tahitian Ori (also a dance, likely to put me in traction but I’m willing to suffer for the cause!),  the Tahitian toere drumming (I already have a partner commitment for this one for next year), and perhaps strum a few chords on a ukulele.

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