Molokai Halau Victorious
By Kim Markham
Raymond Hiro and his band pulled a fast one on some unsuspecting old folks on the morning of Thursday, September 16, 2010. The kupuna were the senior members of Kumu Raquel Dudoit’s halau “Na Kupuna o Moana.” At 7 a.m., they were up early for their final rehearsals before the 28th annual Kona Kupuna Hula Contest being held at the Keauhou Sheraton Convention Center. Molokai’s hula dancers, who are all over age 55, have been practicing their Mixed (Men and Women) Division hula to the tune of “Hilo E” for almost one year. It is a challenging hula because the dancers must spin around and around while changing formations and beating bamboo pu`ili sticks. When Raymond and the musicians started to play their guitars, ukuleles and bass, they double-timed the music. They strummed so fast that the poor old hula dancers tripped over their own feet trying to keep up with the music. After collapsing in laughter and catching their breaths, the band and halau rehearsed the song one final time at a reasonable rhythm.
With over 26 halau presenting hulas in various divisions, it was a very long day for Molokai’s senior citizens who were scheduled for the last performance of the evening. In fact, the audience and judges seemed a little sleepy by the time Molokai was finally called to stage. Once again Raymond and the band pitched a fast and jazzy version of Hilo E. Not surprised this time, Na Kupuna o Moana came out strong, whirling and twirling their ti leaf skirts and executing precise moves. The audience woke up quickly and many in the audience jumped to their feet clapping in time with the music. With huge smiles, our Molokai dancers thrilled over 1,000 spectators who gave a standing ovation before the dance was even finished.
After five judges tallied their scores based on the dancers’ movements, appearances, costumes, flowers, and expressions, the decisions were announced. Molokai’s Men took third place for their performance of Kaulana Molokai. Molokai’s Men and Women Combined won first place for Hilo E. Na Kupuna o Moana wish to thank everyone who made the exciting trip to Kona possible by purchasing pizza tickets, candy, plants, baked goods, soup and lucky number tickets from halau members throughout the past year of fundraising. Na Kupuna also wish to thank their beloved kumu Aunty Moana and Aunty Raquel who spend so many hours teaching beautiful hula to keep their students young and smiling, no matter how old they are!