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Hula at Kalani
Hula is the language of the heart and therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people.
- David Kalākaua, King of Hawaii (1874 to 1891)
Hula is the Hawaiian art of movement, dance, and storytelling. Hula began as a form of sacred devotion and became a key part of religious and cultural expression. Because the ancient Hawaiians had no written form of the language, hula and mele (chant) were the primary means through which history, myth, and culture were passed down from generation to generation.
Missionaries who came to Hawaii in the early 19th century suppressed the hula, denouncing it as a heathen practice. However, in the later part of the century, King David Kalākaua, known as the Merrie Monarch, reinstated the practice of hula. A renaissance of Hawaiian culture bloomed thereafter and has continued ever since.
Hula is rooted in the mele (chant) or song - each movement in a hula has a meaning correlating to the mele so that the dancer(s) becomes an expression of the story that is being told. Hula is typically divided into two broad categories: kahiko (ancient or tradititional) and 'auana (modern).
Hula kahiko, or ancient hula, refers to traditional forms of hula as it was practiced before contact with the West. Performers wear traditional costumes and are accompanied by chant and percussion instruments.
Hula 'auana, or modern hula, incorporates Western musical influences such as melody, harmony, and the use of stringed instruments that were introduced to Hawaii by the West. Costumes are also accordingly more modern.
Hula Offerings at Kalani
Weekly Hula Classes
Each week, Kalani offers two hula classes to guests and members of the community. Basic Hula instruction is offered on Tuesdays evenings, and Advanced Hula is offered on Thursday evenings. (Please see our weekly schedule for times and locations.) Hula classes are usually taught by Heritage Instructor Kimo Lopez and occasionally by founder Richard Koob.
Annual Hula Heritage Week
Each year, Kalani spends the week leading up to the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival celebrating Hawaiian culture in all its forms. Throughout the week, participants learn traditional songs, chants, myths, crafts, language, uses of local plants, and of course, hula.
The later part of the week is spent attending the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival's ceremonies, performances and competitions at the Edith Kanakaole Stadium in Hilo and culminates in a spectacular finale performance held at Kalani where participants will share all they have learned.
Private Hula Instruction
In addition to our weekly lessons and Hula Heritage week, Kalani offers an anytime Hula Package featuring private instruction with Heritage Instructor Kimo Lopez or kumu Ehulani Stephany (or other qualified instructor). Contact our Reservations Desk to sign up.
About Jonathan "Kimo" Lopez
Kimo was born and raised in Honolulu. He learned his first hula when he was just five years old from his grandmother, Lucille Ku'uleinamamo Kupau Rodriguez, and has since studied under various kumu (teachers of) hula, including Carl Hoku Rasmussen, Frank Palani Kahala, Sonny Ching, and Michael Canopin. He has danced hula professionally for more than 25 years, taking part in performances and competitions across all the Hawaiian islands.
In 2005, he decided to make his home on the Big Island and began teaching hula at Kalani as one of our Heritage Instructors. When not choreographing, practicing or teaching hula at Kalani, he works as a keeper of the `āina (land) and can often be seen riding the green tractor through the jungles of Kalani Kai.
"Since coming to Kalani, I have grown from dancing the hula to teaching it and passing on the knowledge I have gained from my own kumu. Each time I introduce the hula to someone new, I feel that my grandmother is looking down on me and watching me teach. To me, the hula is life, the hula is breath, and I am eternally grateful to Kalani and Richard for allowing me to share my love of hula with so many."