This October, we fulfilled one of our biggest dreams: we entered our very first hula competition!
We were invited to participate at the inaugural Na Pua Hula Festival and we jumped at the opportunity! We knew that this project would take a lot of time, resources and energy -- AND we knew that we had it in us. But we couldnʻt do it on our own - we needed our badass partners in crime, Kolohe! And we used our family connections and brought Steven Espaniola along for extra fabulousness.
We prepared three group presentations (wahine kahiko, wahine ʻauana and kupuna ʻauana) and two solo presentations (makuahine and kupuna).
Our kahiko presentation was Aia i Waimānalo kō nu‘a hulu, which is a lei hulu chant for Queen Kapiʻolani. The chant was given to the Queen to commemorate her visit to Mount Loke, a beautiful estate owned by Mr. John Cummins. We made our own lei hulu (feather lei) in honor of the Queen. We loved dancing to the beautiful mele! And...we took 2nd place!
Our makuahine soloist, Amanda Morales, presented a set of two songs: Hōkūlani (written by her brother, Steven Espaniola) and Pua Lilia. Steven joined Amanda on the stage and together they paid tribute to their mother, Marie Espaniola. Marie often danced to these two songs (sung by her son) with her two daughters. Amandaʻs performance was beautiful and moving. And...she placed second!
Our kupuna ʻauana presentation was to the gorgeous songs E Nihi Ka Hele (written by King Kalakaua for Queen Kapiʻolani) and Ka Ipo Lei Manu (written by Queen Kapiʻolani for King Kalakaua). These two songs together weave a story of steadfast and lasting love. Our ladies made their own lei hulu in honor of the King and Queen. A long time ago, only royalty were allowed to wear lei hulu.
Our kupuna soloist, Theresa Kailikole, danced to Nani Ahiahi and Wāikāhuli as a tribute to her parentsʻ love story. Wāikāhuli was written by Kuana Torres Kahele for his sweetheart, who, just like the Wāikāhuli flower, is not from Hawaii. Theresaʻs Hawaiian father fell in love with his own Wāikāhuli - Theresaʻs mom is from the mainland. Theresaʻs lovely performance earned her a third place trophy!
Our final presentation was our wahine ʻauana. We danced to a mash-up of Kuʻuipo Onaona and Lepe ʻUlaʻula. We were taken by love songs that are upbeat and playful – even teasing. So many songs about love are sweet, gentle and slow. But not these songs! These mele reminded us that romantic love can be a lot of fun and also just a little bit crazy. We had a great time on that stage! And...we took second place!
These dudes are amazing. We donʻt know how we ever came to deserve them, but boy are we grateful! Laryngitis, sleep deprivation, bloody noses (on stage!) be damned. These guys came through for us like the champs that they are. Mahalo nui, Kolohe!
And mahalo to the Na Pua Hula Festival! Thank you for welcoming us and for making our first hula competition so wonderful! Weʻll be seeing you again!