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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, July 20, 2007

Hula festival pays homage to legacy of a king

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Halau Hula O Maiki is set to perform at 12:30 p.m. at the Prince Lot Hula Festival at Moanalua Gardens.

Advertiser library photos

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Halau Hula O Ka Wehi Kau I Ka Pali takes the stage at 2:35 p.m.

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PRINCE LOT HULA FESTIVAL

9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday

Moanalua Gardens

Free, but a $5 button helps defray expenses

839-5334

Notes: Free shuttles are available at Tripler Army Medical Center. Commercial photography is not allowed

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As founder and prevailing emcee at the Prince Lot Hula Festival, which marks its 30th anniversary Saturday at Moanalua Gardens, veteran entertainer and Hawaiiana guru Nalani Olds says hula endures and attracts locals and global spectators for a simple reason: It has mana'o.

"Hula is a way of expression that is not done in quite the same way in any other place of the world. It has a spirit; it speaks from the heart; it evokes emotion, not only for the person performing it, but from the person who is viewing it," she said.

The festival, a noncompetitive event which is probably the best Island spectator sport in one of the loveliest natural settings honors King Kamehameha V, who adored and supported the dance that has thrived over time and remains rooted in tradition. The festival's theme is " 'Olelo Mai Na Kupuna mai (The Legacy Lives On)."

Olds, who learned a lot about hula and culture from her grandmother, said competitions as is the custom with the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo were never part of the performing landscape.

"The dancers would do challenges," she said. "That would be the extent of it."

"It's pretty overwhelming that the festival would carry on for 30 years," Olds said.

In the early days, the festival participants were invited halau members from the Leeward area, selected by Olds and others. Some came from the Neighbor Islands, but no one "applies" for a slot.

"You have to be invited; because you are not judged, you can make mistakes. You come to do what you love to do, in the way you love to do it."

The format, said Olds, echoes what her tutu told her. "Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana ... I've shown you mine, now show me yours," Olds said. "You simply celebrated the joy of dancing."

As many as 15 halau commonly participate; this year, 10 groups are involved.

"What's really remarkable is the vast number of visitors we get from all over, signifying huge interest in hula," Olds said. "We have people coming from South Africa, Europe, and all over Asia."

Few have come to learn the language and culture, she said, but no matter.

"I think as human beings, we all have those innate abilities to feel all that hula evokes," said Olds. "So even if you don't understand, there is something in hula that you inherently understand."

THE SCHEDULE

9 a.m.: Opening ceremony

9:30 a.m.: Kealohaleimoanaakalahui Halau Lokahi Public Charter School, kumu Hinaleimoana Wong

9:55 a.m.: Hula Halau Kamamolikolehua, Pohai Souza

10:20 a.m.: Halau Hula O Namakahulali, Shirley Recca

10:45 a.m.: E Hula Mai 'Oe, George Holokai

11:30 a.m.: Intermission

12:30 p.m.: Halau Hula O Maiki, Coline Aiu

12:55 p.m.: Halau Hula Kaleipuaimilia, Makalapua Bernard

1:20 p.m.: Pua Ali'i Ilima, Victoria Holt Takamine

1:45 p.m.: Halau Hula 'O Kilohana, April Kealoha

2:10 p.m.: Pupukahi I Ke Alo O Na Pua, Michael Casupang

2:35 p.m.: Halau Hula O Ka Wehi Kau I Ka Pali, Ku'uipo Avilla

3 p.m.: Closing ceremony

Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.