The Primal Power of Hula
Scroll to Continue
Kanakaole herself, is a force of nature. She has won multiple Na Hoku Hanohano Awards – Hawaii’s highest musical honor – and has traveled the world performing. Her transcendent voice comes from one of Hawaii’s most esteemed lineages. Her great-grandmother, Edith Kanakaole was a pioneering leader during the Hawaiian Renaissance of the 60’s and 70’s. Her grandmother, Pualani Kanakaole Kanahele is a Ph.D and kumu hula (hula teacher). Her mother, Kekuhi Kanahele-Frias is also a Hoku award winning artist and educator.
Kanakaole calls herself a hula haka, or hula medium – the means in which hula moves through. This dance on the sleepy streets of Hilo isn’t for visitors. It isn’t for a competition. It’s a way for her to connect to her legacy, and more importantly, to this land.
“Hula is the constant rhythm that nature has. Hula is movement at its most primal.”
Hula is the constant rhythm that nature has. Hula is movement at its most primal. Is hula happening now, even when there's no one to dance it? Most certainly. Does hula require a human medium? No, it doesn't. But we're privileged enough in our very temporary lifespan to be able to engage in this hula, in this visceral and primal movement of the environment.
How do you define hula?
For the native, for the Kanaka Hawaii, hula is the bridge to our authenticity and our identity. And if we identify ourselves with our land base, then it's for the land. It's to facilitate that connection between the land and me, and to reaffirm my commitment as a native Hawaiian.
What does hula mean to native Hawaiians?
Oli is vocal or harmonic alchemy. It's the ability to manifest change in your environment. I'm just the medium. And hula and oli is what I know best.
How do you define oli?
“For the native, for the Kanaka Hawaii, hula is the bridge to our authenticity and our identity.”
Our job is to remind ourselves and remind anyone who treads on this land, through way of performance, of the energy that is required in order to maintain our home. And essentially, our identity.
As a native Hawaiian, what do you want hula to communicate?
When I'm in hula, and when hula is in me, and when I'm oli-ing, and the oli is in me, then I'm my most natural self. I know who I am. I just belong. I know what my purpose is. So, why do I get emotional about hula? Because the moment I don't, the moment that that isn't the reaction, then I'm lost.
What is your personal connection with the hula?
If there's a word of wisdom I could impart onto any visitor to Hawaii, it’s “intention.” Come with intention. Just be open. I think that if each and every visitor committed to checking their ego in at the visitor’s center and entered with mindfulness and complete awareness and no ego – only receiving – then I think you have a chance at witnessing Hawaii at its finest.
What is your advice to visitors who come to experience the culture of Hawaii?
It’s a peaceful morning at Kahana Bay on Oahu’s Windward side. There isn’t a single soul on the sand – a far cry from the bright lights and buzz of Waikiki. The waves here are legendary. Once, long ago, a Kahana Bay Chief challenged the Goddess Hiiaka – sister of Pele, the Goddess of fire – to a surfing competition in these waters. It did not go well for the Chief…More
Anela Evans sings a melodic oli (chant) atop a cliff overlooking Puu Pehe (known as Sweetheart Rock), on Lanai’s south shore. She’s just come from her day job as a cultural liaison at the Four Seasons Lanai, just a short hike from here. As she sings over this dramatic vista, she still wears her formal work suit. It’s a contrast that not only informs who she is, but the contradictions in Lanai itself…More
The subway rumbles under Columbus Circle in New York City. Inside the towering Time Warner Center is Per Se by Chef Thomas Keller, one of the best restaurants in New York. This is where Brandon Baptiste cut his teeth, working tirelessly 12-16 hours a day, perfecting his culinary skills, and learning from the very best, to be the very best…More
Kaumakaiwa Kanakaole performs a hula and oli (chant) in the streets of downtown Hilo. Her voice is pure. Her movements, powerful. In an increasingly modern world, this is how she connects to the Island of Hawaii. To the snowcapped mountains of Maunakea. To the rolling, green hills of Waimea. To the primordial, black lava rock of Kilauea…More
It’s 2 a.m. on Oahu’s breathtaking, Waianae coast. At this hour, the connection between the physical and the spiritual world intermingles. In the shore break, Keone Nunes is waking up his tools for Kahekili, the god of tattooing. He does a prayer and dips his tattooing tools into the water to make them aware they’ll be doing sacred work today. It's a fairly simple ceremony, but it's embedded in thousands of years of culture…More
Chef Sheldon Simeon and Brandon Lee stand in a pasture of happy pigs in lush Honokaa, north of Hilo on the Island of Hawaii. Tonight, they’ll be cooking for a big, local-style potluck at Sheldon’s father’s house. But before the dishes hit the table, the guys wanted to take a visit to the source – the farm…More
The sun rises over Halawa Valley, Molokai. Greg Solatorio blows the pu, or conch shell. At the other end of the lush valley, Greg’s father, Anakala Pilipo Solatorio, blows his pu back. There is no cell phone connection here. This is how father and son communicate over distances. The conch shell echoes across this beautiful, verdant valley. This could be today or it could 200 years ago…More
Dustin Tester stands in the warm waters of Olowalu Beach giving a wide-eyed 10-year old her first surfing lesson. Dustin grew up on the beaches of Lahaina. Her grandfather helped build the A-Frame cabins just offshore – the same cabins she runs her Maui Surfer Girls surf camp out of today. She has an infectious energy. That energy helped her survive one of the most dangerous waves in the world…More
The stars shine bright above Maui. Kala Tanaka sits on the sand overlooking the ocean on the west side. Kala is a voyager and an educator at Hui o Waa Kaulua, Maui’s Voyaging Society. When she stays on land for too long, she begins to long for the sea. But it hasn’t always been that way…More
The sun is about to break over the horizon at tranquil Lydgate Beach, just south of the iconic Wailua River on Kauai’s east side. Leinaala Jardin has a long day ahead of her. Jardin is a kumu hula (hula teacher). She’s here with her halau (hula school), Halau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leinaala, for a hiuwai, a traditional water blessing. Tonight, they’ll be performing in front of 1,000 people to celebrate her halau’s 21st anniversary…More
Maui's most experienced and most affordable downhill bike tour company. Sunrise $84.99, Summit $74.99, Express $64.99. Self-guided downhill bike tours, since 1994. Rental bikes, hard tails, full suspension mountain bikes and road race bikes.
Daily Deluxe Snorkel & Dolphin Watch guarantees dolphin sightings or come again FREE! Captain Cook Sunset Dinner Cruise to Kealakekua Bay and a Seasonal Whale Watch! Beautiful 65' luxury catamaran with plenty of shade, cushioned seating, a premium cash bar, and is 100% wheel chair accessible.
Hawaiian Paddle Sports offers authentic, sustainable eco-tours that empower guests to discover a deeper appreciation of and connection to Hawaii’s marine environment. Guests can choose from private kayak, outrigger canoe, canoe surfing, whale watch, and snorkel tours, or take SUP or surf lessons.
Kauai Hiking Tours offers day hikes, backpacking trips and driving tours on Kauai Island. Our local guides are passionate about sharing their knowledge with aloha. We welcome adventurers of all ages & ability levels - several options of beginner, intermediate, and advanced tours are available.
Escape from the crowds, buses and tour boats and see Maui from the ocean perspective! Connect with your friends and family as our professional kayak guides take you paddling and snorkeling. You'll see amazing wildlife, enjoy special moments, views and hear stories of Maui.
Atlantis Submarines offers a one-of-a-kind underwater experience off the shorelines of Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island, giving guests a close-up view of an array of marine life, exotic tropical reefs and numerous sunken vessels. It's like swimming in a giant aquarium, but staying dry the whole time!
Snorkel with award-winning Fair Wind Cruises! Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, our snorkeling tour travels up the Kona Coast to snorkel at historic Kealakekua Bay marine sanctuary, site of Captain Cook Monument. Our family friendly tours will be the highlight of your Kona, Hawaii vacation!
For 31 years, Sea Quest Hawaii has been exploring the unseen Hawaii. Join us for a unique and personal snorkeling excursion along the South Kona Coast at pristine and remote locations. Explore sea caves and lava tubes, search for marine life, and enjoy the best customer service on the Island.
Kualoa is 4,000 acres of stunning tropical beauty offering a Jurassic Valley Zipline, ATVs, Raptor Tours, Boat tours, Hollywood Movie Site Tours, Food Tours as well as Horseback. If you've seen Jurassic World, you've seen Kualoa!