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lead image for this date5 April 2013 : Kahiko: traditional hula

I wrote about the opening ceremonies -- like any other American event, the national anthems. Yes, both of them. Again, the difference is startling, and maybe ominous...

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lead image for this date6 April 2013 : Modern Hula

The third night of the Merrie Monarch presents Hula 'Auana. Compared to Hula Kahiko, the traditional, pre-contact form, this is the post-contact, Christian-missionary influenced form...

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1st per in:|ominous. The very mixed audience -- racially and socially mixed as is only possible in Hilo -- stands respectfully for the Star Strangled Bannaner, ably sung, with the usually vocal flourishes that would fit better on American Idol. Then, the adorable little crumpet begins, "Hawai'i pono i..." and the house lights up. I think I have never heard so big a group sing together so beautifully, and with so much ... well, there's only one word that works: with so much aloha.  But I digress. There was dancing. 29 groups. (We made it through 25.) Men dance. For anyone who's seen Maori dancing, no more needs to be said. The men's dancing contains all the strength and aggression of tribal dancing by male warriors in their prime, who dance to declare territory, to build character and teamwork, to keep in shape, and to have fun. It's heart-thumpingly awesome.|
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1st per in:|ionary influenced form. Where Kahiko is story-telling, 'Auana is for pageantry and entertainment. Guess which one I like better. As I work now on posting this, I am struck by how beautiful the women are. The men, too ... but this doesn't strike me as strongly. This is partly because I love women, but it's also because this form, 'Auana, is meant to showcase the women. For the men, it's an amusement. And the difference can be seen in the photographs. But I note that I took 200+ pictures of the Kahiko, and about 50 of the 'Auana. The music is also very different. For Kahiko, the musicians are on stage with the dancers, and the thumping ipu, booming pahu, and the full-throated chanting carry me deep into the heart of the dance. For 'Auana, 'ukulele, guitar, and string bass accompany songs that might just as well be sung in a cocktail lounge, even if they are all sung in Hawaiian.|
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