Dances of aloha

Since the days of ancient Hawaii, hula dances have been used to express stories of love, war and the legends of the islands.

And ever since she was 3 years old, Kumu Hula Leilani Rivera Low has embraced the art of the dance. Establishing the 2015 Hoike Hula Concert, she hopes to share the beauty of Hawaii with others during the 23rd annual Hoike Hula Concert.

“It’s our lifestyle,” Low said, “to teach our cultural heritage in order to keep it alive.” 

Doors for the festivities open at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7 at the War Memorial Convention Hall where guests can enjoy dinner in addition to a Hawaiian craft fair, with more than 20 vendors. Doors for the recital open at 6:30 and the recital begins at 7 p.m. with multiple dances and songs from the Hawaiian, Tahitian and Maori cultures. The concert will be divided into two halves with an intermission. 

“All of the songs will feature our men, women, our children and our kupuna,” Low said. 

The first half of the concert will showcase “hula kahiko,” which is an ancient hula form, and “hula auana,” which is a more modern form of the dance. The first half will also end with “Aparima,” a dance from Tahiti. After intermission, the second half of the concert will kick off with dances from the islands of Tahiti and Maori. The Maori culture will also be performed to pay tribute to Valetta Jeremiah, who taught Low’s halau the culture five years ago. 

“Aunty Valetta passed away and before she passed away, she asked her daughter Kulani to continue teaching our halau,” said Low. “At the end of the show, we’re going to do a farewell to aunty.” 

The performance will also feature four additional halaus from Japan along with songs composed by Low’s father Larry Rivera and uncle Michael Keala. Guests will also experience dances from the women of Niihau with their kumu hula ‘Ehu Kanahele. 

“There’s a lot of people that learn our culture but there’s also a lot of people who don’t take the time to see what we can do,” said Low. “If they would take the time to come and see our show, they would see how important and beautiful our culture is.”

Tickets are $20 for adults and $25 at the door and tickets for individuals ages 5 to 14 are $10 and $15 at the door while children ages four and under are free. They may be purchased at Larry’s Music in Kapaa, the Ukulele Store in Koloa, the Hawaiian Music Cart at the Coconut Market Place, Foodland in Princeville, Island Soap and Candle in Koloa, JJ Ohana in Hanapepe, and at the Kauai Cultural Center in Coconut Market Place. Seating is limited. Proceeds will go to benefit Low’s Low’s nonprofit hula school, Halau Hula ‘O Leilani. 

“It helps to support our hula school so we can continue to perpetuate our culture and it’s important for our families to see what we have learned,” said Low.

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