A Kauai Christmas Hula Concert

Celebrate the traditional and Hawaiian Christmas with music and dance performances.

“A Kauai Christmas Hula Concert” is being presented by kumu hula Leilani Rivera Low and Halau Hula o Leilani from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihue.

The annual Christmas show is approaching its 12th year featuring the blend of multiple cultures with faith works, Low said, because “God is the creator of all.”

Low said everyone is invited to attend the family Christmas show that is both cultural and spiritual. The event is about sharing the joy of Christ’s birth and receiving Jesus into the world.

The songs also celebrate the beauty of Kauai. The distractions today prevent us from pausing to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us, she said.

Leilani Low is also a recording artist who presents traditional and modern Hawaiian Christmas music. Her haumana of about 60 dancers will perform cultural variations on the Christmas theme from keiki to adult.

The dancers held a number of workshops with Valetta Jeremiah, who worked for many years at the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. For the past three years she has been coming to teach the halau Maori songs.

“We wanted to include the Maori songs to reinforce the ties to our New Zealand cousins,” Stewart said. “The dancers also do Tahitian dances in different styles and costumes that were partly made by the dancers and their parents, and it’s a blend of tea leaf skirts with Rudolph antlers.”

The dancers have worked with Low since they were children and some have been with the halau for 30 years. The youngest seem disorganized in class but once they are in costume and on stage they are like little angels, Stewart said.

The “back stage moms” frantically help the girls change between performances. The Christmas show is a good way to get the beginners valuable experience with fun songs and dances to learn what it’s like to be in a live stage show.

“We all have a good time dancing in it and want our families and friends to all be there to show how we celebrate Christmas in Hawaii,” Stewart said. “The parents work hard in getting the costumes together and getting things organized, and all the parents that have been there before help the others.”

Stewart said the idea began over a decade ago when the Rivera, Low and Bond families produced Kauai Christmas music CD. The concerts helped take the traditional songs performed in the island way, and the original Christmas songs written by Hawaiians and putting them to dance.

The youngest kids start out by singing the pigeon version of “The 12 Days Of Christmas” and begin learning hula to these songs. The older kids sing “Little Drummer Boy” and “Jingle Bells” in Hawaiian.

The program moves along with a varied tempo with musicians including 10 Tahitian drummers to accompany the Tahitian dancers that are choreographed by Low’s daughter, Ariel Bond.

Guest musicians Kapala and Michael Ruff perform the beautiful music of the season with Low.

Ruff is a composer and producer of Hawaiian artists and will perform his own spiritual music. Kapala is a Hawaiian contemporary group that will mix traditional and modern styles.

Island music legend Larry Rivera, 84, will perform his annual holiday standards, “O’ Holy Night,” and “Menehune Santa” that he wrote several years ago.

Leilani Low, Rivera’s daughter, is also a recording artist and closes the show with her popular local Christmas song, “A Kauai Christmas.”

The concert is a fundraiser to benefit halau’s nonprofit booster club. Make a donation for a chance to win a ukulele from Larry’s Music and the Ukulele Store.

The lobby opens at 5 p.m. with vendors offering food, jewelry, clothing, accessories and other Hawaiian gifts. Tickets are $20 (adults) and $15 (keiki). Advance tickets are $15 and $10, and available at Hawaiian Music Stores in the Coconut Marketplace and Princeville Shopping Center; Hawaiian Cultural Center in Coconut Marketplace; Larry’s Music; the Ukulele Store in Koloa; Hilo Hattie, Pono Market and Island Soap & Candle in Old Koloa Town.

Call Darryl Low for $30 front section reserved seats at 651-0864 or email darryl.leilani@hawaiiantel.net.

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