Monday, February 15, 2010

Hula on the Big Island

April 4 - 10 2010 is the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo. The central event is the hula competition, taking place over Friday and Saturday nights.

This is a rare opportunity to watch performances by hula halaus from all over the United States. The kumus or hula teachers are each from a particular lineage, where they pass along the style and stories from their teachers, who learned it from theirs, and so on. A kumu can trace her or his history back for generations.

The halau is more than a dance studio. It is a repository of Hawaiian culture and practice, where the old Hawaiian culture is perpetuated and practiced through arts and crafts, language, story telling, and the dance that is hula.

There are two Hawaiian styles of hula: traditional kahik0 that includes chanting and drums, and 'auana, the more modern hula accompanied by song and slack key guitar and other instruments.

If you are thinking of planning a trip to the Big Island, and Hawaiian culture interests you, you may wish to include this festival in your itinerary, along with a stay in or near Hilo for the event.

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