Hula Kahiko is the ancient style, usually the instruments are natural instruments and chanting. The implements can vary from ipu gourds to river rocks, to shark-skinned pahu drums. My experience is limited, but I thoroughly enjoy any chance I get for further exposure.
This year four different cultures were exhibited, ancient-style hula, Alaskan (Inuit? not totally sure) native dances, Korean ancient fan and queen's dances, along with modern pieces, and the Maori.
Touch of history, the hula, while ancient in origin was almost lost when missionaries saw it only as a form of deity worship, rather than a cultural medium to tell stories, (which also has a great deal of deity worship). So hula was either forced underground or eliminated from the culture for many years along with the Hawaiian language. While this was wildly inappropriate on the missionary's part, the damage has been done. However, Prince David Kalakaua came along and initiated a Hawaiian Renaissance, celebrating hula each year with a Merrie Monarch celebration...
Back to modern day we have an outstanding craft fair where artisans from all over the island bring their lei, clothing, jewelry, woodwork, instruments, lua weapons and much more to sell and share with the visitors. I myself get a clip-in flower hair piece each year, and have a growing selection which I enjoy using and sharing with friends at events.
I absolutely ADORE Hula Kahiko, for a Choir-girl who has a background in Sign Language and loves dancing, it's LITERALLY the perfect combo.
I thoroughly enjoyed this group, it felt like being back in the Pacific Northwest. That said, I could identify most of their implements, the pelt moccasins and feather implements. However, I'm trying to figure out what the row of standing dancers have in their hands. It's clearly not feathers, too floppy, it looks like some sort of fur, but it's REALLY long, much longer than the fur on their boots or headpieces. Thoughts?
The Koreans were lovely, this is the second time I've seen them dance. I feel like many of their costumes represent every little dancing girls dream of having loooooong flowing sleeves and big feathered fans to accent the movements. As someone of Western descent, I appreciated that this year was a little easier on my European trained ears. Last time they had a dance where I could hardly focus as the performer was hitting pitches which I am trained to see as sharp and flat. I acknowledge this is a cultural-upbringing... thing. I was amused at the end, as they did a crossover of all the pieces they had performed, which musically and visually combined traditional, modern, hula and sounded like rock. I appreciate the nod to all the pieces they did.
The Maori were a crowd favorite, and my other favorite next to the hula kahiko. While I was originally just going to show clips from the dances, I just about died of laughter on this one, our gracious Maori host would spend time to give further insight and description to what was going on and this clip he talks about "Celebrating 250 years of Captain Cook" which got mixed reactions, I started laughing cause I knew where this was headed, as he referred to the Captains final voyage to Kailua-Kona where he died on Valentines Day. He then stated "We just wanted to thank you for finishing him off."
The crowds reaction was priceless, I couldn't hold the camera still I was laughing so hard. But its also because I've been recently told, "You know Captain Cook? He wasn't Lono... he wasn't pono... but he WAS ono."
(Tourist Translation: Lono- the deity the Hawaiians mistook him for on his first trip. Pono- respect, he did terribly disrespectful things to the people/culture. Ono- yummy.)
All in all I had a lovely night!
And I hope you got to enjoy a taste of Merrie Monarch's Exhibition Night!