Mahalo to Anne E. O’Malley for the great photos and putting up everything for our Facebook Friends
“The Show Must Go On”
Historically March has been a challenging month for E Kanikapila Kakou, mostly due to extreme weather conditions … nothing like the polar vortex, but the heavy rains do not go easily ignored on this island. We have had past performances barely attended because the radio stations told everyone not to be on the roads unless very necessary; we have had to cancel a night of EKK four hours before start time because the hotel was flooded and the parking lot had become a lake, and the closing of the gates on the highway have kept some communities on lock-down. Once we found out an hour before our program started that there was no electricity in the building, so at the last minute we switched to a nearby facility on super short notice, which was a miraculous save in itself, and was able to have our program after all. After the steady rains of this past week-end, I looked at my “teru teru bozu” doll hanging from the corner of my roof and sang the Japanese nursery rhyme asking for god weather, “Teru teru bozu, teru bozu, ashita tenki wo mite okure!” and woke up glad that the rain had subsided a little, but because it’s March, it could be anything.
This past Monday, I found out just two hours before our program that a medical emergency dictated that I shift some gears and then, an hour before the start, that a second medical emergency might seriously affect our program, and after the program started, yet another medical issue was going to affect the program. I looked up and asked, “Can you help me get through this night?” Nathan Kalama, one of the two presenters, and nearly all of the expected halau hula dancers showed up looking bright-eyed and bushy tailed and ready to put on a show. Nathan is a true gladiator; he calmly carried on like the trooper he is. No one could even tell, unless he mentioned it, that he is sight-impaired, or as he laughingly puts it, “maka po” or blind. Doric Yaris showed up just minutes before the program began; no one even knew he had been sequestered in the emergency room for hours because he was joking, joking as always. The biggest unexpected surprise is that Puna Dawson who was supposed to be en route from Europe to Japan, showed up just minutes before her halau’s scheduled number. They all really understand and embrace the theatrical concept — “the show must go on” — and no one in the audience even had a hint of the challenges that were overcome to do just that. Way to go, gangy!
Monday, March 10, 2014
“A Legacy of Aloha”
Due to the unexpected tardiness of his father Doric Yaris, DJ Yaris stepped up to the plate and became kumu DJ to the ‘ukulele circle. It was tricky as the song came with no chords, but DJ had them all strumming and singing in no time, leading them with his beautiful voice. Nathan called for interested hula students to step up to the stage; Nathan and his halau dancers had the twenty-five plus ladies swaying to the song Kenui Aloha Style, a mele inoa Nathan composed about his long time friend, the late Kenui Kasparovitch whose job was to greet folks at the airport with leis. Nothing like performing on stage for your first hula lesson. The ladies did have a chance to go back up onstage during the second half to perform for the whole audience.
Nothing seems to stop Doric. Right on cue he appeared in the ballroom and pulled himself up on the stage with his ipu heke and said, “My voice is loud enough so I won’t use the mic.” After he chanted an ‘oli he began the program with three ladies and three men of his halau dancing two kahiko numbers. Swishing hula skirts and the synchronization of pu’ili and ‘uli’uli hula implements with the chants was a good way to begin the program.
He introduced the first of his two guests for the evening. Aunty Beverly Kauanui and her ladies danced to a medley ofNani Hanalei and Koula. What a heartwarming sight to see twenty-two tastefully attired ladies in two piece sheath-like hula dresses in soft moss green and violet, hair pulled back and topped with huge floral head pieces. Each woman glowed, looking and feeling beautiful as they danced for the appreciative audience shouting hana hou. Kamawailualanii (the original name for Kaua’i) is a love song about their romantic westside rendezvous composed by Momi Yaris, Doric’s late wife,choreographed by Aunty Bev and elegantly danced by the halau. Again, huge applause and shouts of appreciation.
On February 19, 2014, as part of the Waimea Town celebration at the historic Waimea Theater, Puna Kalama Dawson was honored as Kaua’i’s first Ambassador of Aloha for her work teaching hula in Europe, Japan and Kaua’i. She and her hulau did an evening performance after which she was presented with many gifts, among which were a proclamation from Mayor Bernard Carvalho, an ipu heke from Bank of Hawai’i, an ‘oli composed by Kumu Hula Maka Herrod and chanted by his halau, two hula numbers by Kumu Hula Doric Yaris’s halau, and the mele inoa He Aloha No E Puna E composed by Nathan Kalama.
Nathan taught He Aloha No E Puna E to the whole audience. He prefaced the interactive “lesson” with an explanation of the purpose and format of the early days of E Kanikapila Kakou, a program that he hosted for ten years. In the early days of EKK, it was easy to get the 100 – 125 folks in attendance to learn to sing a song, but attempting that with over 350 audience members took a lot of guts. He taught them how to pronounce each word, gave its meaning, and had everyone repeat it over and over until they got it. Then on to the singing. They sang the song over and over until all the voices were synced, and by the time they got through the last refrains, the singing sounded like a Hawaiian choir. It was beautiful and heartwarming. Just as they sang the last refrains of the song, who should arrive next to Nathan but Puna herself. She told me she would be flying from Europe to Japan at this time so was unable to be at EKK . . . but here she was. She had delayed her trip to be with her husband who was in Wilcox Hospital.
As always, before the intermission, we give the audience a sample of how the “giveaway” Kamoa ‘ukulele sounds. Lady Ipo, the ‘ukulele lady of Kaua’i, asked, “Shall I sing?” Applause of approval was reciprocated by Lady Ipo and Garrett Santos harmonizing in parts a Kaua’i favorite Lei I Ka Mokihana by Henry Waiau, which began as a traditional chant Maika’i Kaua’i (How beautiful is Kaua’i). The Kamoa ‘ukulele giveaway at the end of the evening is always exciting and no one was more excited than Izzy from Kapa’a; she jumped up from her seat in the front row and gave her dance of joy when her name was pulled by Uncle Nathan. Very cool . . . it’s never to late to learn to play the ‘ukulele! A big mahalo shout-out to Kamoa ‘Ukulele for their generosity.
After the intermission, Nathan called on the participants of his hula workshop to take the stage for Kenui Aloha Style. It never fails to amaze me that folks can pick up on hula moves that quickly; I never could. Nathan’s story of his kupuna halau is that he started at the Neighborhood Center and then moved to a new location and then to his home. His dancers followed him everywhere and to this day dance together as a halau. In addition to his six gracious ladies, most of them are septuagenarians or octogenarians, he introduced EKK Patron Alice Fix, who danced with him for many years; she is 90 years old but definitely does not look it. Wearing white lace shawls over their hula dresses, the kupuna danced to Nani Helena, a song written for the wife of Henry Owen by Alvin Issacs and choreographed by Beverly Muraoka. Later Nathan’s kupuna halau, attired in dark purple shawls and long strands of white pupu leis, danced a hula to Ka Beauty A’o Mililani, composed by Nathan for his sister when they traveled to Europe with Aunty Puna’s halau.
Backed by the musical talents of Garrett Santos and DJ Yaris, Iwalani Ka’auwai Herrod represented Kumu Hula Maka Herrod’s halau with a song written by Napua Makua of Maui. The song Lawakua is about Napua’s kumu hula sister, a person that Napua greatly admires. Three ‘opio dancers from Maka’s halau performed to the music sung by Iwalani and her daughter Anuhea. Maka is currently teaching hula in Japan and could not be here.
Puna Kalama Dawson came racing in with Mayumi, one of her key hula dancers, who Puna picked up en route to the hotel. Fortunately, Jeremy Brown, Puna’s halau musician, was on standby and together they sang a beautiful rendition of her cousin Frank Kawaikapu’okalani Hewett’s song Ka Pilina about three birds — the Elepaio who represents his grandmother, the Apapane who represents Puna’s mother, and the I’iwi Polena who represents Aunty Emma De Fries, Frank’s hanae mother and sister of Puna’s mother. Such a small world.
Nathan introduced Doric for his auana numbers. “I met Doric when he was still in high school and playing drums for Kapu Kinimaka; it’s so wonderful to watch him growing through the years!” Doric joked, ” . . . and growing . . . and continue to grow and grow and grow!” making reference to his substantial girth. Nani Wai’ale’ale is a Kaua’i favorite danced by the six members of his halau. Doric’s second guest was slack key artist Paul Togioka who accompanied Doric’s recent halau trip to Japan. Together they sang a song written by Makana for his mentor Sonny Chillingworth – Song for Sonny. Halau Hula o Haleili’o brought the evening to a close with two lively hula numbers. Celebrating the Hawaiian sailing vessel Hokule’a as it embarks on its sailing journey around the world, Doric and his musicians sang Na Pe’a O Hokule’a. Ha’a Hula was their final number for the evening. It was a couples dance in which there was quite a bit of dosey-do and the couples danced around each other much like the western square dance with hula skirts and bare feet instead of bandana and boots.
Instead of the usual Hawai’i Aloha ending, the hui chose to end the program with the solemn Pilipa’a. With all the voices raised in unison, it was truly a fitting ending to an evening of hula, singing, stories and a wonderful display of the close-knit hula ‘ohana whose signature style is to include and embrace others. Bound by their alliance as Hui O Kalama’ola, these four kumu hula support each other and their separate endeavors; it is very special for them to be together at EKK because all four of them are very busy traveling all over the world to spread their Aloha.
Who’s Coming Up Next at EKK?
Monday, February 24, 2014, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
E Kanikapila Kakou “Continuing the Legacy”
Kamakakehau Fernandez, William Yokoyama and Kapono Na’ili’ili
6:00 – 7:00: Ukulele & Hula Circles
7:00 – 9:00: Performance
If you have a disability and need assistance please email Carol Yotsuda at <email@example.com> for Monday events.
(s) Carol Kouchi Yotsuda, www.gardenislandarts.org — “Celebrating 37 years of bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS”
E Kanikapila Kakou 2014 Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, and the Garden Island Arts Council supporters with support from the Kaua’i Beach Resort.
Garden Island Arts Council programs are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through appropriations from the Hawai’i State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.