It was at July 2005 Outrigger Races/Ho`olaulea at Juanita Beach, WA that I first heard the whispering about the new Hula Halau which was thrilling audiences in the Seattle/Tacoma area with the originality and energy of their smooth, graceful dances but it was not until October 1, 2005 that I was to have the privilege of seeing this Halau perform. It was at the Lokahi 2005 Ho`olaulea as I and a few hundred others sat spellbound on bleachers when Kalani Hiapo and his Ka Pa `Olu Kamakani dancers performed their magic! We in the Pacific NW are blessed with some of the best Hula Halaus anywhere. Halaus from our area have won numerous awards in Hawaii as well as here on the West Coast and they’re all pretty awesome….but every now and then a group appears that seems, maybe for an hour or a day, to rise above the rest….on this day, there was something special about Kalani’s dancers, something that made more than a few in the audience teary eyed, made them clap a little louder! Was it because they danced to the nostalgic, recorded music of such greats as Aunty Genoa Keawe? Was it the unique formations, in one case eight dancers clustered together like a flower bud that slowly, tantalizingly blooms open….or because, unlike the straight dance lines used by most Halaus, these dancers seem to merge and meld in intricate movements, graceful then forceful, passive then passionate! All their hulas were great but their rendition of “Nuuanu” was especially beautiful! Among the dancers were Carmen Ramento, Keala Kawailehua Kanoho, Rosita Castellano, Nohea Alapai, Thebah Castellano, Misty Hug, Maika Kahinu-Taitano, Noelani Castellano, Rachel Fontenilla, Charles Hassard, Alike Sumandig and Robert Bautista! Beyond the great dancing, the audience was given another special treat when the dynamic duo of Kamehameha 2004 grads Jessica Waiau and Troy Andrade (beautiful, pure falsetto voice) sang between dance numbers! Kalani Hiapo and his Ka Pa `Olu Kamakani Halau are raising funds so they can compete in California this month (November 2005).
A new face at the Lokahi Ho`olaulea…..beautiful lady with boundless enthusiasm and energy, up from the Beaverton , Oregon area. Originally from Anahola, Kauai her name is Bernie Haluapo Capell, and she is Events Coordinator from the Uwajimaya Stores…She was up here to check out the Hawaiian talent…. welcome to rain country Bernie!
Another impressive dance group at the Lokahi Ho`olaulea was the Island Praise and Worship Team under the direction of Radiant Kaikala. We Hawaiians have always been a religious people and it was mesmerizing to watch the dancers from the Church of All Nations in Tacoma pay tribute to Akua through their beautiful hula.
I took a week long business/pleasure trip to Hawaii in October and I guess I have been away from home too long ‘cause I was miserable….the hot temperatures and the humidity mixed with air conditioning brought me down with the baddest cold I’ve had in years! Auwe, spending a week in Paradise with a hacking cough/congested chest ain’t no fun. I noticed a few changes since I was home last….worst is that the “Farmers Market” by Kewalo Basin/Ward St. is all pau (gone) so you have to search around for good Poke and Hawaiian foods…second worst is more and more high rise buildings keep going up around the Ala Moana/Waikiki area making it look more like San Diego every day….and you all quit complaining about the traffic congestion from Seattle to Everett cause the traffic jam on H-1 is even mo’worse! And no complain about gas prices; auwe, ‘twas $3.50 a gallon for REGULAR gas when I was there (I saw a lot of bicycles and mopeds driving around town.) But Hawaii is still No Ka `Oi (Da best) …so enchantingly beautiful! And the Mana you feel as soon as you get off the airplane when your heart says “e Hawaii au, e home au… I am Hawaiian…and I am home…….makes every trip back home worth it!!!!
For you folks in the Spokane area: I got a note from Roy Miyaji about a Hawaiian place called the Hula Hut Grill, 15412 E. Sprague Ave in Spokane Valley, WA which Roy says has a great “King Kamehameha Plate” special on Fridays and Saturdays….their signature dish (Blackened Ahi) sounds real ono! I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to travel that way again so why don’t some of you Spokane area folks check it out and let me know what you think…
Some of the happenings in November: Steve Inglis, great slack key/kiho`alu artist returns to do a free concert at the Kona Kitchen (6-9pm Thursday Nov 10) Na Leo performs Thursday Nov. 17 at the Triple Door in Seattle; the Brothers Cazimero in Concert at Seattle’s prestigious Benaroya Hall in Seattle at 8:00pm Friday Nov. 18.
I’d like to take a moment to send a “get well” message to a very special wahine who has the most appropriate name ever….her name is Sweetie…..Sweetie Camacho….and I think (as probably hundreds of you who know her would agree) she is the sweetest lady! Always has a smile on her face and a shy giggle in her voice….she personifies all the beauty that people look for in a Hawaiian wahine! Sweetie is recovering from major surgery and though she says she “feels pretty good and can eat anything again” and that she has gained back eight of the pounds she lost, she will be undergoing treatment for a few months to come…”Hey Sweetie: Get well soon! Aloha from all of us who can’t wait to see you dance and hear you sing again…me ke Aloha pumehana…….we love you a lot!
Auwe….time to hele on again….until next time, take care…………….Danny
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