Pae ʻāina

I suspect you’re probably thinking:  what’s a “pae ʻāina”?  This is our halau’s annual recital.

Pae ʻāina means group of islands or archipelago, in this case the Hawaiian islands.  Each year the new students are assigned to a group and you remain with this group throughout your time in the halau.  When I joined I became a member of the Kaunaʻoa group.  Our island is Lānaʻi, and our flower is kaunaʻoa.

For the first-year recital you must research and learn three ʻauana (modern hula) that have been performed by the halau.  The research includes the place or person that the song is about, the song’s history, its author, any kaona (hidden meaning), what costume you are wearing and why, and you must document where you got your information (a librarian’s dream project!)  You present your research to the kumu, and he determines which song you will perform solo at the recital.  My first year I performed “Nani Hanalei” (Beautiful Hanalei) by the Brothers Cazimero.  The song references the area of Hanalei on the island of Kauai so my muʻumuʻu was purple (the official color for the island of Kauai).  Leis must be made of real (i.e. not plastic) materials, so my lei was made of kukui nuts which were only worn by royalty until the monarchy ended.

The second year is a solo kahiko (ancient hula) and you research one song (same information as for the the first year).  You must add a kaʻi (entrance) and hoʻi (exit) chant.  Last year I did “He Inoa No Liliʻuokalani”, a mele inoa (name chant) for Queen Liliʻuokalani,  written in 1894.  The kaʻi/hoʻi was “Hoʻopuka e ka la ma ka hikina”.

And now we’ve arrived at the third year when the whole group must work together on this project.  We had to pick an ʻauana, a kaʻi/hoʻi, research the ʻauana, and choreograph everything.  As part of this year’s responsibilities, we make the leis for the judges.  We do not share this information with anyone until the day of Pae ʻaina so it is a surprise for everyone, including our kumu, when we perform.

I don’t want to say that we all turned out to be strong-willed individuals (LOL) so let me just say that we had some “moments” early on!  But once we got past the initial phase of the project, we came together and our dance is pretty awesome.  We love the music, the dance, and our dresses, and that’s all that matters.  (You’ll have to come back to get the scoop on this year!)

Next year we will choreograph a group kahiko; the fifth year we will be the judges.

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