SALT POND — Salt Pond is such a special place, said Kumu Hula Leina‘ala Pavao Jardin of Hula Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala on Sunday evening.
“We are on Kauai, and we can see Niihau,” the kumu hula said. “When we dance, we dance for the people of Kauai, and the people of Niihau. We take and spread the Kauai aloha.”
Thirty-five na opio of Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala, including 25 kaikamahine and 10 kane, were performing hi‘u wai, or final cleansing and blessing before leaving to participate in the 41st annual Queen Liliu‘okalani Keiki Hula Competition that starts Thursday on Oahu.
Hallie Frasco, a seventh-grader, will represent the halau as its Miss Keiki Hula contestant, while Kiwa‘a Hermosura, also in the seventh grade, will represent the halau as its Master Keiki Hula contestant. The Miss and Master Keiki Hula competition marks the start of the pageantry that runs through Saturday.
Frasco will be performing to Ahe Nani, composed by Johnny Lum Ho that talks of Waialeale and other special places.
“I love the emphasis on Kekaha, a place Hallie can truly call home,” the kumu hula said. “She has great families there and they have turned her into a hard worker with true dedication.”
“We took a tour on Safari Helicopters and got to see all the special places — Kekaha, Waialeale, Hanalei, Kokee,” Frasco said. “We toured Na Pali to Kee where we were yesterday, and the waterfalls on Waialeale. I could actually see myself dancing about these special places.”
Hermosura will be dancing to the popular “Lumahai,” a place he is famililar with because he comes from Hanalei.
“Lumahai talks of the beauty of the land,” Hermosura said. “Our family hosted kumu for dinner and breakfast to help them understand the place. Kumu said it was more than a meal, it was a real paina. My favorite spot is close to Lumahai where the red lehua is covered with the misty rain. It is so special. It is so pretty.”
Pavao Jardin said for the hula kahiko number, the halau received the words and it is up to them to interpret the mele and perform.
“The girls’ hula kahiko honors Kaiulani and the beauty of places compared to the regalness and beauty of the princess,” the kumu hula said. “I had the girls each take a line of the mele. They had to draw a picture, and teach their line to the rest of the group. This is looking at the mele through their eyes.”
The boys’ hula kahiko honors King Kalakaua, who revived hula in the late 19th century.
“The boys will show this strength in their performance,” she said. “Our halau style is powerful as my kumu was.”
For the girls hula ‘auana, or contemporary hula, the little ladies honor Princess Pauahi.
“I’m glad to have selected this because my girls go to Kamehameha School,” Pavao Jardin said. “When we go over to Oahu, we’ll have a tour of the Kamehameha Schools, Kapalama campus, where the halau will share history and view artifacts like the piano that belonged to Pauahi.”
The boys’ hula auana is from a song by Kuona Torres, “Lei Moa Ula Hiwa,” that talks of the wild chickens.
“This is a fun one for the boys,” Pavao Jardin said. “They’re going to have fun with this. They love it — I can see it in their faces when they dance.”