KA `IMI’s ‘Recalling Hawai`i’,

by Dawn Fraser Kawahara  © 2011

This year in a May 28 performance, a pinnacle in hula learning and presentational skills for Ka `Imi Na`auao o Hawai`i Nei Institute members was reached during the evening presentation of “Recalling Hawai`i” at the Kaua`i Community College Performing Arts Center. The hula chronicle played to a sold-out house.

From the moment the large pu sounded and the chanting began – “Aroha tatou, e na tupuna. . .”– and the spotlights focused on colorfully-costumed figures before a screen splashed with images of Kaua`i and Hawai`i, the energy between audience and cast circled and continued to build over two segments covering several hours of dance and music researched and choreographed to “chart” time from the Kumulipo through the peaceful time of Manokalanipō to the days of the Monarchy. Following “Hawai`i Aloha,” at the closing, the receptive audience awarded the over forty dancers, chanters, musicians and supporters involved in the challenging hula drama with a stand-up “hana hou” reaction.

At this point, artistic director and President Emeritus of Ka `Imi Institute, founder Roselle Keli`ihonipua Bailey, of Maui, introduced the cast members  in the ambitious presentation who had traveled to merge together with Kaua`i Ka `Imi members from, O`ahu, Maui, California, and Germany. This Hawai`i premiere built on the the first European performances of “Recalling Hawai`I”, presented successfully in June 2010 in Germany and Switzerland by invitation.

Kumu Hula Bailey when interviewed said she chooses to continue the tradition of Hawaiian creativity in finding new ways to blend the old with the new in her choreography and staging. “My hope is that any person with Hawaiian ancestry would gain renewal and personal pride from the content of the program,” she said. “I wish the same for anyone who respects and dedicates to learning the truth of the Hawaiian culture.”

This show’s theme revolves on aspects of Hawaiian culture that are successfully alive today. The focal points are the legacies of Hawaiian leaders of the past, and how these bequests of the Ali`i translate in modern-day Hawai`i to benefit all people of the greater community. The legacies of members of the two prominent royal families, the Kamehameha and Kalākaua dynasties–Kamehameha I through Kam. V (Lot), Kuhina Nui Ka`ahumanu, Liholiho, Kauikeaouli, Lunalilo, Emalani, Kapi`olani and Kalākaua, Kai`ulani and Liliu`okalani, Pauahi and Kuhio, and the like–are well worth remembering and celebrating.

Dawn Fraser Kawahara is a poet/writer and publisher (TropicBird Press), a long-time member of Ka `Imi Institute-Kaua`i, and teaches Hawaiian culture subjects for HPU’s Pacific Island Institute ‘Road Scholar’ program.


princess2_sm“The royal princesses” of Ka `Imi Institute’s “Recalling Hawai`i” premiere performance in Hawai`i captured in a pensive musical moment between staged lessons in deportment and manners, and dances: (l-r) Cheyenne Leianuenue Manle (O`ahu); Sara Mikolelehua Wong (Calif.); Kukui Gavagan (Maui); Sitara Malia Mohr (Kaua`i); Lily Lilinoe Carbullido (Calif.); Kasey Kawaimakaleaokalani Redman (Maui), with `ukulele; Olivia Lamalamaka`ili Nardell (Calif.); Leela Mohr (Kaua`i). robbie_smThe musicianship of Kauai’s Robbie Kaholokula performing with a group of  talented musicians and singers added to the overall success of the hula chronicle’s Premiere Hawai`i event on Kaua`i. Na Kaholokula offered their crowd-pleasing sounds during intermission. princesses_lgConfining dresses, shoes and stockings were not always popular with the young princesses, as depicted in this scene from the Ka `Imi Institute’s hula chronicle “Recalling Hawai`i” performed on Kaua`i on May 28, 2011, at the Kaua`i Communituy College Performing Arts Center, depicting a missionary school for the ali`i children. Shown l-r., Kumu Hula Sally Jo Keahi Manea (Kaua`i) fixes the skirt waist of Kukui Gavagan (Maui), while “princesses” Sitara Malia Mohr and small, barefoot Olivia Lamalamaka`ili Nardell (Calif.) wait to dance. Kumu Hula Pat Moanikeala Finberg similarly adjusts for Cheyenne Leianuenue Manle (O`ahu), while “princess” Becky Shimabukuro gazes on patiently.

Click here to watch a slideshow of images from this performance.

and even more photos of Recalling Hawaii

Mahalo to Mike Teruya for his generosity in providing the photography for Recalling Hawaii.