Cazimero gives inside look at hula

Robert Cazimero is known for his beautiful voice and musical career. But the man also knows hula. His book, “Men of Hula: Robert Cazimero and Halau Na Kamalei,” is a fascinating look at this art and Cazimero’s influence on it.

Written by Benton Sen, who was born and raised in Hawaii, this book is based on a previous article he wrote on Cazimero and Halau Na Kamalei.

Through pictures and words, readers will learn about the men of dance, about the Merrie Monarch Festival, about the world of hula and about Cazimero himself. He is, as Sen points out, one of the most respected kumu hula of Hawaiian dance. His passion for hula led to Halau Na Kamalei, an only male halau hula, or hula school. It has for more than three decades performed around the world and, in 2005, won the Merrie Monarch Festival on the Big Island.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure to have met and visited with Robert Cazimero, you come away impressed with his humble attitude, his quiet demeanor, his gentle approach and his interest in you. You wouldn’t know of his immense talent and success because unless asked, he doesn’t bring it up. That’s why this 124-page hard-cover book is so intriguing. It offers an inside look at a world that few truly know and understand.

To give you an idea of the wisdom and the pride of Robert Cazimero, here are just a few quotes from him that you’ll find in “Men of Hula:”

w “Just dance, say it, sing it. Be proud of who you are, where you’re going, and what you would like to achieve.”

w “Although it’s not easy to get men to dance, a new revelation has come along, the sons of my students are dancing for me. But having the kids of my dancers with me makes me want to be a better teacher. That’s legacy.”

w “There are times when I don’t want to get up and dance, but sometimes you just have to leave old thoughts behind and just do it. You have to leave the shame behind and forget what others are thinking about your dancing.”

If you are interested in Hawaiian culture, if you are interested in hula, if you are interested in what motivates and drives a man like Robert Cazimero, this book is a must read.

My copy, by the way, is signed by Cazimero and dated Sept. 9, 2015, when he performed at the Kauai Museum. It’s one book I plan to keep.

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Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or bbuley@thegardenisland.com.

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