Hula’s heart and soul

PUHI — For volunteer Carol Bain, the World Conference on Hula held on Kauai was “a mixture of hard work and love.” 

“This global outreach really works because Hawaiian culture is so loved throughout the world,” she said. “It’s genuine and not a touristy thing.”

Closing performances and ceremonies for Kauai’s first Ka Aha Hula O Halauaola — 4th World Conference on Hula were Friday. More than a thousand participants from nine countries and the Mainland were on island since July 9, when they began workshops with 65 presenters who shared hula, storytelling, instruments and all things hula and Hawaiian.

The event is held every four years and this was the first conference on Kauai.

“It’s all worth it, you know, for the continuation of hula and Hawaiian culture,” said uncle Nathan Kalama, honorary chairman of the conference. The conference was blessed with wonderful weather and a good volunteer system, he added. 

The first two-and-a-half days were about learning specific crafts connected to hula, whether making a drum, or a hula instrument, Kalama said. Then the conference held a private opening ceremony, where participants performed storytelling, chants and dances. It was traditional and selective and not open to the public, he said.

Carol Antonsen, came with her Halau Hula Ka Poli Mehana O Leua, out of Aldegrove, BC. She has been to other workshops and said it was wonderful on Kauai, taking part in the physically intensive Na Ponohula hula arts workshops and learning to make the coconut knee drum.

We had a fantastic time,” Antonsen said. “The immersion into the culture means so much, and to have the experience to going on the huakai’s to the different locations, and to see the places firsthand makes the dances come alive and just be so much more real to us.”

Natalie Urminka, of Halau Palaihiwa O Kaipuwai in Anahola, said it was an amazing gathering of kumus, halaus and ohana from all the islands and the world.

“It’s also unique because it’s not a competition, but it’s everyone sharing their teaching and their skills,” Urminka said. “Everything stands out here because there is so much depth to the teaching.”

Kumu Kapu Alquiza of Hanapepe and co-chair of the workshops said it was an exhausting and exciting journey that culminated with great memories.

“And here we are on the very last day and we don’t want it to stop,” Alquiza said. “We don’t want it to end at all.”

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Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or by emailing tlaventure@thegardenisland.com.

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