A mul­ti­cul­tural show­case

Ho‘ike fea­tures dances of Hawaii, Mex­ico, Philip­pines

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By JOHN BUR­NETT

Thou­sands de­scended Wed­nes­day upon the Edith Kanaka‘ole Mul­tiPur­pose Sta­dium for the Mer­rie Monarch Fes­ti­val Ho‘ike, a free ex­hi­bi­tion of hula and cul­tural dance from around the Pa­cific Basin.

Hilo’s own Halau O Kekuhi, un­der the di­rec­tion of kumu hula Nalani Kanaka‘ole, cel­e­brated its 20th an­niver­sary of Ho‘ike per­for­mances with a hula hon­or­ing Hi‘iakaikapo­liopele, fo­cus­ing on her trav­els through Ko­hala.

Na ‘Ohana O Kahik­i­laulani O Mex­ico de­liv­ered a per­for­mance that in­cluded hula and Mex­i­can folk dances. The halau, led by Aida Araceli Gar­cia Cruz, Brenda Marissa Mo­rales Arzate and Esper­anza Ros­alinda Pare­des Her­nan­dez, takes its name from Hilo’s Halau Hula ‘O Kahik­i­laulani and is a prod­uct of in­ter­na­tional out­reach by the late kumu hula Rae Fon­seca.

Paran­gal Dance Com­pany, a San Francisco-area dance troupe un­der the artis­tic di­rec­tion of Eric Solano and mu­sic di­rec­tion of Ma­jor Ju­lian, per­formed dances from in­dige­nous peo­ples in Lu­zon to the north, Visayas in the cen­ter of the is­land chain and Min­danao in the south of the Philip­pines. One dance in par­tic­u­lar, a trib­ute to the Ata Manobo of northeastern Min­danao, chron­i­cles the plight of the tribe at the hands of cor­po­rate and para­mil­i­tary in­ter­ests. Ju­lian noted “a par­al­lel” in the plight of the Ata Manobo to strug­gles faced by Na­tive Hawai­ians and Na­tive Amer­i­cans, and the group proved to be a crowd fa­vorite.

“It’s amaz­ing. I was re­ally sur­prised by their col­or­ful cos­tume and their style of dance,” said Hawaii ra­dio leg­end Jac­que­line Leilani “Sky­lark” Ros­setti, a Na Hoku Hanohano life­time achieve­ment award win­ner who for more than three decades served as the voice of Ho‘ike be­fore re­lin­quish­ing the sta­dium’s mi­cro­phone two years ago.

Wrap­ping up the night was Halau Kala‘akeakauikawekiu of Kona, un­der the di­rec­tion of 33-year-old kumu hula Aloha Vic­tor.

“It’s his first time at the Mer­rie Monarch,” said Ros­setti, who nar­rated the halau’s per­for­mance. “He’s pay­ing trib­ute to all of the peo­ple who have helped him in Kona. He’s salut­ing the fam­i­lies that are very spe­cial, that have songs writ­ten about them or who have writ­ten songs about these spe­cial places in Kona, that come from the side of the is­land all of his hau­mana (stu­dents) are from.

“It’s all about his home­town, Kona. Those spe­cial peo­ple in­clude Aunty Fanny Au Hoy from Hulihe‘e Palace, whose mother, Aunty Lei Collins, was quite a mu­si­cian and com­poser, who wrote plenty of beau­ti­ful songs.”

About Vic­tor, Ros­setti said, “I think he’s mar­velous. He’s teach­ing the kids right. And he gets his chance to show that Oahu doesn’t have all the cre­ativ­ity and magic, that the Neigh­bor Is­lands are just as mag­i­cal and fab­u­lous.”

The three-night Mer­rie Monarch Fes­ti­val hula com­pe­ti­tion starts tonight with 10 young women vy­ing for hula’s most pres­ti­gious ti­tle for a solo dancer, Miss Aloha Hula. The group hula kahiko (an­cient hula) com­pe­ti­tion is Fri­day night and the group hula ‘auana (mod­ern hula) com­pe­ti­tion is Satur­day night.

Fes­tiv­i­ties be­gin at 6 p.m. each day with the en­trance of the Mer­rie Monarch’s Royal Court.

Pho­tos by HOLLYN JOHN­SON/Tribune-Her­ald

Halau O Kekuhi of Hilo, un­der the di­rec­tion of kumu hula Nalani Kanaka‘ole, per­forms Wed­nes­day evening dur­ing the Mer­rie Monarch Fes­ti­val Ho‘ike

Mem­bers of Na ‘Ohana O Kahik­i­laulani O Mex­ico dance Wed­nes­day dur­ing Ho‘ike.

HOLLYN JOHN­SON/Tribune-Her­ald

Mem­bers of Paran­gal Dance Com­pany per­form dur­ing Ho‘ike on Wed­nes­day at Edith Kanaka‘ole Multi-Pur­pose Sta­dium in Hilo.

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