Easy as 1-2-3Apr 11, 2021
1,2,1,2,3,1,2.......1,2,1,2,3,1,2........repeat that about a million times and you’ll have yourself a Monday night beginning hula class at AHA!
Every year, the new enrollees at AHA start the year learning exercises to strengthen muscles and improve timing. We also spend time getting familiar with Olelo Hawaii (Hawaiian Language). Finally when Kumu gives us the okay, We combine everything they learn and teach them their first hula kahiko: Kahi Kēia ʻO Niʻihau, A hula noho (sit down hula) that involves pa’i umauma (chest slapping). We put our ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi to good use as we chant alongside Kumu. The complicated timing pattern, motions, and ʻōlelo can be overwhelming at first, which is why we teach hula noho for the first Kahiko.
As Kukui, we have the responsibility to get everyone familiar with the mele. The first thing we work on is the timing pattern “1,2,1,2,3,1,2”. This metric is used repeatedly to define the motions and timing of the kahea. It can get tedious when we go over everything together but once Kumu enters the picture and the counts are replaced with the beat of his ipu heke, our hard work is rewarded with a beautiful hula.
As Kukui, we have the responsibility to get everyone familiar with the mele...
All of their practice is for our end of the year ho’ike where all dancers can showcase what they learned during the year. Kahi Kēia ʻO Niʻihau opens the show. You would think that there would be limited choreography for a hula noho, but true to Kumz MKH fashion, that couldn’t be further from the truth. From the time the dancers step foot on stage, weaving in and out from each other, and finally ending in their dance spots, the famous 7 count timing is kept steadfast throughout.
Being able to see the growth in ability as well as confidence in dancers that have no hula (let alone any dance) experience is amazing. Imagine 40-60 dancers, all together on stage, chanting and dancing confidently in unison. It’s impressive! You would never think that the same 7 count of “1,2..1,2,3..1,2” is what got us there.
Kahi Kēia ʻO Niʻihau talks about the different things that make Niʻihau special. Kumu MKH was taught this mele by his kumu and now teaches it to his haumāna (students). Because we aren’t in Hawai’i and most of us aren’t from there, we must use imagery to evoke sentiment and emotions in order for haumāna to connect with this mele. We talk about where we’re from and places that bring us pride so they can connect to the mele. Our Halau is in Oakland which we’re all very proud of.
We hope you enjoy this course; Kumu’s gift to you, originating from Ni’ihau, packaged in Oakland, and shipped to your home...Aloha!
Maile Hoʻomalu, original member & dancer of the Academy Of Hawaiian Arts and wife of kumu hula MKH
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