Saturday, May 21, 2022 |
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PO‘IPU — Kaua‘i Film Commissioner Art Umezu said it is not every day when you can see happi coats, a traditional Japanese garb, and hula attire on the same stage.
That was the case Monday when Hui O Mapua Hula Nani, a hula halau from Machida City, Japan, unleashed 78 of its dancers for a free public performance at the Palm Courtyard adjacent to Merriman’s at The Shops at Kukui‘ula.
“The halau arrived Sunday following its participation in a hula competition honoring David Kalakaua,” said Ululani Luis of Honolulu who introduced the group. “There were 122 who came to Hawai‘i for the competition, but some went home and about half of the group went to Hilo for a special performance before meeting up on Kaua‘i Monday.”
Following a day touring Waimea Canyon and Koke‘e, the group converged at The Shops at Kukui‘ula where they decided they wanted to offer a public performance before shopping and having dinner at the Po‘ipu shopping complex, Luis said.
“Kumu hula Mapuana is from Tokyo and has a studio in Machida City near Camp Zama U.S. Army base where my dad worked and my parents lived until they moved to Hawai‘i,” Umezu said. “Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. was really excited and wanted to come to the performance, but unfortunately, his schedule was so tight, he sent this fresh maile lei in his stead.”
Kumu hula Mapuana donned the lei as she joined her hula sisters in a rendering of “Makala pua.”
Opening to a traditional Japanese number in which dancers donned traditional happi coats, the numbers introduced the halau through various ‘auana performances.
One was “Ku‘uipo Pua Ros’e,” a number composed by John Almeida that earned the Japanese halau top honors at the hula competition.
Among the dignitaries who enjoyed the show, Veronica Lovesy of Kukui‘ula had in attendance her daughter, a dancer with Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala, as well kumu hula Leina‘ala Pavao-Jardin, who had just returned from Japan Sunday.
Helaine Perel, The Shops at Kukui‘ula manager, and Stacie Chiba-Miguel, the assistant real estate manager, arranged to have the Palm Courtyard converted into an outdoor dining area to accommodate the special guests.
The dancers and their families crowded the stairs at The Dolphin for a photo of the setting sun before
it dropped behind the naupaka stand.
Both Perel and Chiba-Miguel were surprised when they received the request for the halau to perform.
“They love the island,” Chiba-Miguel said while sorting through the omiyage deposited by the Japanese guests.
“They love the people and they just want to do a performance. We’re honored they selected The Shops at Kukui‘ula as the place they wanted to perform their ‘Love of Hula’ show.”
Luis wove in the history of the halau, including how kumu hula Mapuana learned the hula from Dorothy Horita of Hilo more than 25 years ago.
The halau only recently celebrated its 25th anniversary in Japan.
Umezu said the kumu hula is also a friend of kumu hula Kaleinani Hayakawa, who used to visit Kaua‘i with her dancers on an annual basis.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.
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