Soak in the Culture, Creativity and Costumes of Hula at Moku O Keawe this November

Soak in the Culture, Creativity and Costumes of Hula at Moku O Keawe this November

It's no surprise that hula is a way of life for many here on the islands. But not many are aware of the huge presence of hula throughout Asia, California, Europe and throughout the rest of Polynesia too. This was the inspiration for the Moku O Keawe International Festival, which takes place this year (2008) from November 6 – 9 at the Waikoloa Beach Resort on the Island of Hawai'i. Founded by Nalani Kanaka'ole, descendant of legendary composer and kumu hula Edith Kanaka'ole, and her husband Sig Zane, the festival extends the invite to dozens of hula halau and interested followers, who flock to cultural heritage sites around the island and soak up knowledge from leading Hawaiian cultural authorities.

The third annual Moku O Keawe features a dance competition, an evening concert and dance performance, daily workshops and cultural excursions. Admission to the festival is open to all.

Halau from all over the world perform and are judged on November 6, 7 and 8th; on the last day, a grand prize winner is awarded the festival's highest honor. Worth the ticket price alone is a chance to see the intricate costumes, elaborate flower arrangements and orchestration. The precision in which these halau perform their dancing and chanting is nothing shy of an art form–one that is perpetuated through events like Moku O Keawe.

"I would like to think that we're offering unique opportunities for education in the practice of hula with its associated arts along with the competition venue of this festival," said Nalani Kanaka'ole.

This year, the organizers of the festival pulled no punches when arranging the daily workshops and excursions. An excursion to Hulihe'e Palace led by Hauoli Akaka peaks when participants honor Princess Ruth Ke'elikolani with a special hula on the Palace grounds. Another excursion features culture specialist Keala Ching who takes a group to Kawaihae to learn about the Hawaiian sailing canoe and its connection to life in Hawai'i. Kahuna Charles Kaupu leads a jaunt to Kalopa Park, where participants will gather flowers for lei, learn chants and other rituals that prepare the spirit for dance. Moku O Keawe founder and kumu hula Nalani Kanaka'ole will also teache a special 3-hour hula, in a separate workshop.

Finally, an annual highlight of the festival is award-winning kumu hula, chanter, songwriter and musician Keali'i Reichel's 2-day class open to all advanced hula participants. In it, Reichel emphasizes the poetry within the language, and the hidden meanings behind the movement and words in hula.

Throughout the course of the weekend, a Hawai'i marketplace is set up at the resort to show and sell top products from local vendors, including fresh flower lei, collectible festival posters created by artist Kathy Long, Sig Zane fashion wear, jewelry, woodworks, organic coffee and more.

Admission is $15 daily, and free to keiki under 5. To participate in workshops, fees are generally $50 (including the two-day, Keali'i Reichel shop).
Visit www.MokuOKeawe.org for more information or call 808 886-2055

"I would like to think that we're offering unique opportunities for education in the practice of hula with its associated arts along with the competition venue of this festival," – Kanaka'ole.