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Our Dances

Hula Implements

Hula O Kahawai presents dances old (kahiko) and new (‘auana), using ancient and modern interpretations. We incorporate a variety of implements, including the ipu (a gourd drum), ‘ili‘ili (stones used as castanets), ‘ulī‘ulī (feathered gourd rattles), pū‘ili (split bamboo sticks), and kalā‘au (rhythm sticks).

'Ahulili This song, with its many versions and kaona, is about 'Ahulili, a mountain peak in Kaupo, Maui. The song was composed by Scott Ha'i and we dance to the version by Raiatea Helm. Choreography by Barbara Chung and Andrea Luchese.

Aia La 'O Pele I Hawai‘i This traditional hula kahiko pays tribute to the ancient Hawaiian goddess Pele, the fire goddess of all volcanic activity. The gestures in this dance symbolize powerful rivers of molten lava, fires rising above the cliffs, lava popping and hissing as it devours everything in its path. Pele is regarded as both destroyer and giver of life; she personifies the cycles of nature from birth to destruction to rebirth. Choreography by Barbara Chung.

Hawai‘i Aloha If you ever go to a concert in Hawai‘i, everyone rises at the end, holds hands and sings this song together as one. It symbolizes the aloha—love—for Hawai‘i Nei. Choreography by Barbara Chung.

O Hawai‘i sands of my birth
My native home rejoice in the blessing of heaven
O Hawai‘i love
Happy youth of Hawai‘i, rejoice, rejoice
Gentle breezes blow, love always for Hawai‘i

Hawaiian Wedding Song This song, often performed at weddings, is performed at Kaua‘i's famous Fern Grotto. Choreography by Barbara Chung.

He Mele No Lilo This song, performed by Mark Keali'i Ho'omalu and the Kamehameha School Children's Chorus, is from the movie Lilo and Stitch, and honors the last two monarchs of the Hawaiian Kingdom: Queen Lili'uokalani and King David Kalakaua. Choreography by Barbara Chung.

King Kalakaua
King David Kalakaua

Queen Lili'uokalani
Queen Lili'uokalani

King Kalakaua ruled the Hawaiian Kingdom from 1874 – 1891. As a lover of music, poetry and philosophy, King Kalakaua labored diligently to restore his native culture and traditions and to prevent their extinction amidst the growing influences of the flow of immigrants. He is attributed to restoring the artforms of the chant, hula, myths and legends, and the public performance of these artforms. He was proud of his heritage and sought to restore the self-esteem of all Hawaiians. Nicknamed the “Merrie Monarch”, King Kalakaua is honored today with an annual week-long festival of hula and Hawaiian culture. Hula halaus come together from all parts of the world to dance and honor King Kalakaua. He inoa no ka lani Kalakaua-ku lele ~ A name song for the chief Kalakaua.

Queen Lili’uokalani ascended to the throne at the death of her brother, David Kalakaua in 1891.  Her reign lasted through 1893 when she was forced to abdicate the monarchy.  She was an accomplished writer and her story is recorded in her book, Hawaii’s Story. Lili’uokalani played the guitar, zither, ukelele, piano and organ.  She has also written many songs, most famous being Aloha ‘Oe, (Farewell to Thee)

Home Kapaka This hula 'auana pays homage to Kapaka, a district on O'ahu named after the crop that was once grown there — tobacco. This song fondly recalls the beauty of Kaliuwa'a (Sacred Falls), the murmur of the ocean, the scent of lipoa, and the hospitality of "Home Kapaka." Choreography by Manu Boyd.

Ho’okipa Paka This beach on the north shore of Maui has monster waves and great windsurfing. Ho‘okipa Paka celebrates Hospitality Park, where people come to rest under shade by the hau tree leaf, watch surfers, and feel the sea spray tingle their skin. Choreography by Sonny Ching.

I Ali‘i Nō ‘Oe This fast, traditional Hawaiian song is performed with the colorful ‘ulī‘ulī (feathered gourd rattles). The first lyrics translate to: You are a chief and I am a commoner, obedient to your command. The song continues with: You are insincere, I’ve lost my love for you, those eyes wink at someone else… And finally: This bird will break the bonds that bind. Choreography by Barbara Chung.

Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai This song is a beautiful mele praising plants of the sea. It speaks of the fragrance of the līpoa (seaweed) and the enticing limu kohu (an edible reef plant used for flavor in Hawaiian cooking). Choreography by Barbara Chung.

Ke Ao Nani This tranquil song is danced with ‘ili‘ili (stones used as castanets) and was written for children. Meaning “The Beautiful World”, it has five versus, each about an element in nature: Above, birds of the heavens. Below, flowers of the earth. In the mountains, the forest. In the sea, fishes of the ocean. This is the story of the beautiful world, in the name of the children. We dance this either noho (sitting down) or standing up. Traditional choreography by the Beamer family.

Ke Kaua A Kukauakahi Chanted by Mark Ho'omalu. This kahiko describes the Battle of the Owls. A man named Kapo'i took eggs from an owl's nest. After the owl pleaded, Kapo'i returned the eggs and built a heiau (temple) called Manua in honor of the owls. Kakuihewa, King of Oahu, learned of this and decided Kapo'i should be put to death. Owls came to the rescue, covering the sky, pecking and scratching with their claws. The owls conquered and Kapo'i was released. From that time, owls have been recognized as a powerful aumakua (personal god or family protector). Dance presented by a hula sister from Kaua'i, choreography added by Barbara Chung.

Ku‘u Hoa This song, which means My Companion, was written by Francis Keali`inohopono Beamer for his wife. It is danced with an ‘ulī‘ulī (feathered gourd rattle) in one hand, and a pū‘ili (split bamboo stick) in the other. This touching love song begins with "Love for my sweetheart, My gentle-eyed companion, Who resides in the mountains..." Traditional choreography from the Island of Moloka'i, taught by Verna Yungen.

Lei Hinahina This song expresses the discontent of unrequited love. The woman – referred to as “lei Hinahina” is being worn (courted) by someone worthless who is “hoe hewa,” unskilled at lovemaking. Choreography by Barbara Chung.

Mai Ha’i ia Ha’i The music composition and choreography of this playful hula ‘auana are by Robert Cazimero. The song begins telling the story of the full moon in the vast sky and hints at a love that should remain a secret ~ "tell no one of our closeness, a favor for me, please dear, tell no one." Choreography by Robert Cazimero.

Maunaleo This song tells of the beauty of the mountain Mauanleo on Maui, near Wailuku, on the north shore. Maunaleo stands majestic, proud, a beacon of comfort, warmth, and love. Choreography by Barbara Chung.

What A Wonderful World First performed at the 2006 Festival of Lights, Hula O Kahawai wanted to do a dance in the name of peace. Choreography by Barbara Chung.