Cool breezes, beautiful flowers and fantastic Hawaiian music on the morning of January 19, 2013, marked the beginning of the Polynesian Cultural Center’s 23rd annual Moanikeala Hula Festival Pacific. Once again, many of the world’s premier halau hula (hula schools) from Hawaii and Japan took the stage to honor PCC’s first Hawaiian Instructor, Aunty Sally Wood Nalua’i and her 60-year dedication to hula.
Started originally as a keiki hula competition, the Moanikeala Festival has since evolved into an annual hoike for dancers of all ages — from keiki to kupuna — to share the spirit of hula. However, this year’s festival also featured a new element, the kupuna solo competition, with 11 entrants. Kumu hula (hula instructors) of participating halau could select one haumana (student) to their mastery of the art, and in the end, JoAnn Evalei Loa (pictured at right) of Hula Halau O Kawananakoa based in Keaukaha on the island of Hawaii won the heart of the judges.
“Aunty Sally would be so proud to know that hula is thriving in today’s modern world. In the last few decades we have really seen a reclamation and revival of the Hawaiian culture, and hula is great way to perpetuate and celebrate the culture,” said Cy Bridges, Cultural Director at the PCC, and one of Aunty Sally’s former haumana. “Not only is hula thriving in Hawaii, but it is immensely popular internationally as seen by the many dancers from Japan, Russia and the Ukraine that joined us this year.”
The Moanikeala Hula Festival kicks off a year’s worth of cultural events during PCC’s 50th anniversary year, including the We Are Samoa Festival, featuring the popular World Fireknife Championships in May, Te Mahana Hiro’a Tumu O Tahiti Tahitian Dance Festival in July, and Te Manahua Maori Cultural Festival in August.
This year’s festival featured a wonderful mix of both hula auana (modern hula) and hula kahiko (ancient hula) performed by the following halau (followed by the name of the primary kumu hula and their location):
- Napuananionapalionakoolau, Sunday Mariteragi; Laie, Oahu
- Joan S. Lindsey Hula Studio, Joan S. Lindsey; Pearl City, Oahu
- Na Mele Hula Ohana, Rie Kubota; Gifu Japan
- Hui Park Hula Studio. Coranne Kepoomaikalani Park-Chun; Honolulu, Oahu
- Ka Pa Nani O Lilinoe, Lilinoe Lindsey, Aiea, Oahu
- Pīkake Leilani Hula Halau, Shizuko Onishi, Nara, Japan
- Ka Hale I O Kahala, Leimomi I Maldonado; Kahala, Oahu
- Halau Hula O Namakahūlali, Shirley Kanemura Recca; Maunalua, Oahu
- Halau Hula O Hokulani, Hokulani De Rego; Waipahu, Oahu
- Hula Hui O Kapunahal, Carolee Nishi; Honolulu, Oahu
- Halau Hula Olana, Howard and Olana A; Pearl City, OahuHula Kao Studio, Kaori Izumi; Amami Oshima, Kagoshima, Japan
- Hula Halau O Pua Loke, Mona Yamada; Kaneohe, Oahu
- Halau Na Pua Lei Ilima, Reina Sugimura; Nagoya, Japan
- Hula Halau O Kawananakoa, Alberta Nicholas, Keaukaha, Hawaii
- Hula Halau O Keanuenue O Na Pua Wilipuia, Keiko Uchino; Tokyo, Japan
- Hula Halau O Kekela, Kekela Miller; Laie, Oahu
A record number of hula dancers from Japan took part
in this year’s Moanikeala Hula Festival.
In addition to Loa, the kupuna solo competition included: Audrey Aukele Kuulei Kahakui, Joan S. Lindsey Hula Studio, second place; Winona Bryson, Halau Hula O Hokulani, third place; and Donna Lee Napua Kaanaana Fernandez, – Hula Halau O Kekela, fourth place.
Other competitors included: Mariko Hayashi, Na Mele Hula Ohana – Gifu Japan; Ann Teruya, Ka Pa Nani O Lilinoe; Yvonne Ulumea Lutero, Ka Hale I O Kahal,, Betty Hall, Halau Hula O Namakahūlali; Patricia Mae Perez, Halau Hula Olana; Kaori Izumi, Hula Kao Studio; and Lani Castro of Hula Halau O Pua Loke.