So we all know that Merrie Monarch is here this week and it starts tonight with Hōʻike. If you do not know what the Merrie Monarch is, what rock have you been living under? LOL. Nah just jokes I know that there are people out there who have no idea what it is and maybe those people are lucky and fortunate not to know about it. Here is a quick review of what it is…
Some people call it the SUPER BOWL and PRO BOWL of HULA all wrapped in one. A week long celebration of HULA and Hawaiian Culture. The festival honors the last King of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, David Laʻamea Kalākaua. It is pretty much HULA at its FINEST! Kumu Hula prepare their hālau or dance schools to showcase their BEST on the Edith Kanakaʻole Tennis Stadium for three nights. Fresh adornments, leis, beautiful clothes, uniforms, and live chanting and singing. It is an honor to take that stage. But some may be thinking it used to be an honor with how political it has gotten and how blatant they are about having their favorites and then some. Okay back on track from that little rant haha.
I just read this article posted online on the Midweek site. Midweek is a weekly newspaper type of thing that is released in Hawaiʻi. The article is here: http://www.midweek.com/political-views-hawaii/merrie-monarch-ignoring-hula-mua/ and I applaud the author for voicing himself. But he better watch out, those traditionalist might want his head on a stick HAHA! I mean I know some that want mine, but they can’t have it, HAHA! Ok now to comment on this article!
I understand and appreciate the traditionalist in their efforts to preserve the art of Hula, it’s history, the stories. and everything included with the beginning of hula and all. It is important that the traditions are continued and observed. It is also important for people who are practitioners of hula, especially those who teach it, understand our past. On the other hand, I also believe that EVERYTHING EVOLVES and this includes HULA!
For discussion purposes, let us take for example the Hawaiian religion. We did ceremonies on heiau and made sacrifices and rituals as well. In fact, Hula finds part of it’s origins through these religious ceremonies or rituals. When these practices faded into oblivion because of Western Contact and Missionaries and all that good stuff that happened because of Kamehameha the second and Kaʻahumanu, we no longer had a religion. If you practiced it you were jailed or killed. Hula was already done amongst the warriors in preparation for war at this time, and it was the Hawaiian form of the maori’s Haka, it was called Haʻa. So from the heiau to the battle field, that was EVOLVING! Then from majority of MEN doing hula to todays picture of HULA being a WOMENS thing, that is more evolving!
How about another theory, Kapō taught HULA to Laka who taught hula to Hōpoe and Hiʻiaka. So from the Gods to Human’s, YAY more EVOLVING!
Then there is my Theory… In the Kumulipo, Kāne created the earth and then with the help of the other gods he created man and woman. In all of this, arm movements, leg movements, and incantations (CHANTING) was needed…in essence he was doing HULA, so therefore MAN was the originator of HULA and then once again EVOLVING from man to woman to HUMANS and to what we have today!
Okay back to the article and my thoughts, LOL…What I am saying, and not to be rude or disrespectful, but to be open minded in today’ß society, our “traditionalists” should show an understanding on how HULA has EVOLVED throughout the years. YES, there are those “HULA TRADITIONS” that have been the staple of the HULA world for years and years and more years. For example, the late Maiki Aiu Lake and her “Hula Tradition” or “Hula Lineage” still lives today and has lived for years and will continue to live for years to come. Even the late Edith Kanakaʻole and her “Hula Tradition” or “Hula Lineage” is carried on today and will be carried on for years to come. This is maikaʻi, but I can guarantee you that there is some tweaking being done and some newly infused passion being implemented. Why? because HULA EVOLVES! People can bitch and moan all they want about how I am wrong and what not, but I am RIGHT. And just so you know, THIS IS MY PERSONAL OPINION and MY BLOG, haha!
Okay back to the article, for real… The author brings up a good point. The judges, who are in a nutshell, “HULA MASTERS” all have their own opinions and their own relationships with the kumu and the hālau who take the stage. They have their own styles and they prefer this way over that way, so if you are not in the loop or in their good graces you can kiss your chances good bye! The author of the article also mentions when big names such as HĀLAU NĀ MAMO O PUʻUANAHULU enters, you know they will win EVERYTHING! Which in essence is true, we all know they can have the worse performance and they will at least place. This is what I mean by it being so political already. You can go and look at the winners of previous years and see the pattern. You either come from a strong “HULA LINEAGE” or “HULA TRADITION” or you are a MUSICIAN and KNOWN throughout the HULA community and moreover the world. That is just how it works. Well in MY OPINION and it has proven to be true year in and year out.
As for Kumu Hula Mark Kealʻi Hoʻomalu and his haumāna of the Academy of Hawaiian Arts, well lets just say I am biased, thats my ʻOHANA! LOL. Just jokes. Kumu Mark, Kumz, is Innovative and I look up to him and admire his work! He keeps to the tradition that he knows, and he does as his kumu has told him to do! He does traditional hula steps and it is infused with his own style and his own movement and nothing about any of what I just said is BAD, in fact it is AWESOME! I am not going to lie, I feed off of his energy and his creativity. It is exhilarating and at some points mind blowing! But I love the man, he is a prime example of how HULA LIVES beyonds its boundaries! GO GET ʻEM AHA!
The other kumu mentioned in the article is Kumu Patrick. I met him a few times. He too is innovative and takes hula to the extremes. I don’t agree with some of the things he does, but I appreciate and applaud him in following his HEART and for also keeping HULA ALIVE well beyond the boundaries.
Anyway, I think I blogged enough. Sorry if I rambled and went in every direction, but yeah thats just how my mind works! Got comments, questions, or want to bitch me out, please feel free to do so!
GOOD LUCK TO ALL MERRIE MONARCH PARTICIPANTS!!!