Finding Unity in Hula
Honoring a tradition thousands of years old, the 27th annual Ka Hula Piko celebrated the birthplace of hula at Ka’ana on Molokai and carrying forward hula’s value into modern times. Halau and music groups from around the state came together last Saturday at Kualapu`u Community Center to honor dance, language and culture with locals and visitors alike.
The three-day event included a guided cultural excursion to Ka’ana in Maunaloa where hula began, and a Talk Story session with kumu hula, culminating in Saturday’s Ho’olaulea.
Ka Hula Piko was founded by the late Kumu Hula John Ka`imikaua and Halau Hula O Kukunaokala, which is now led by Kumu Hula Elsie Ryder.
“This is where… during the ninth century, La’ila’i and her family created the art of the hula as a way to serve their mo’olelo, their stories,” said Ryder. “Five generations after La’ila’i, this hula was only kept [in the] family… and about 250 years after, her fifth generation granddaughter [Laka]… continued the hula to the point where many people from all the other islands were coming to witness this hula because they didn’t have that on any other islands. .. Laka was drawn to travel throughout the island chain to introduce hula as a way to preserve their culture, their mo`olelo, their ceremonies.”
Today, Ka Hula Piko serves to carry on the traditions of hula.
“I think it’s good that we get to share and see halau from on island and off island and share the mo`olelo on the birth of the hula,” said Kumu Hula April Kealoha, whose Halau Hula O Kilohana has been dancing at Ka Hula Piko for about 25 years.
This year’s theme was Haele Lua, meaning “the call of two” and speaks to unity of purpose, and the balance between kanaka and aina. According to organizers, “Haele Lua teaches us that two individuals unified by a common purpose can serve to benefit the many.”