Earlier this year, my hālau performed upon the kahua hula at Kaʻauea in Volcanoes National Park. On that day, we prepared for the exhibition in this thatched single room hale. According to the Historic Hawaiʻi Foundation, the hale was originally erected in 1980 and has been maintained and restored throughout the years.
On that day, rays of sunlight and stray raindrops came through the roof above, while smooth pebbles gently massaged the soles of my feet with every step. Hundreds of dancers whose hālau prepared to demonstrate their respective traditions once stood where I stood and hundreds more would do the same after me. I was grateful to join such an illustrious membership.
The kahua hula we danced upon was the brainchild of Edith Kanakaʻole. Edith played an integral role in the proliferation of Hawaiian culture within and beyond traditional and western educational systems and I consider her one of my contemporary role models. Edith understood the importance of cultural education and devoted her life to the endeavor of perpetuating Hawaiian lifestyles for the well-being of our community. Dancing to Pele, Edith’s ancestor, smoldering at Halemaʻumaʻu in the distance, was a mahalo to Edith and her ʻohana for the legacy she left and that we continue to perpetuate.
Normally, Hawaiian words have several different meanings that vary based upon context, but for this entry, here is how I’ve defined them:
- hālau: hula school of a particular tradition
- kahua hula: hula platform
- hale: building
- mahalo: thank you
- ʻohana: family
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