Luana Na Manu I Hula Alapai A Berlin – Report

The tradition of Luana Na Manu I Hula Alapai A Berlin performing started with the exiting event at the Ethnologische Museum Dahlem in September 2001 most of you know about from Heu’is report. Only shortly afterwards the Museum asked us to perform again at the celebration of the reopening of the Hawaiian exhibition which had been under renovation for a long time. Of course we took the opportunity to share Hawaiian Culture at this very special place. We danced Ha’aheo O Hana, Puamana and Aloha Kaua’I. Actually it was hard to choose as much as three dances out of our very limited repertoire in a way that made sense. Our choice was supposed to represent songs cherishing special places, and by this to show how much we cherish the Hawaiian Exhibition. We hope many other people also share our appreciation of the Hawaiian Artifacts being presented in the Dahlem Museum.

One year later, in November 2002, we again had the opportunity to perform at a very special event. The KinderMusikTheaterFestival (Children’s Music Theatre Festival) invited us to introduce Hawaiian Hula as the Hawaiian way of bringing words to life in sound and movement. We called the program “getanzte Geschichten” (Stories in Dance). It consisted of two parts: I acted as a storyteller, and the other ladies danced. I tried to give the children an overview of Hawaiian History: Starting with the first people arriving at Hawai’I, I told the story of Papa and Wakea and the two Haloas belonging to one family. The ladies danced Huki ike Kalo. My daughter Anna (6 y.) also danced. She made the children guess the movements (Successfully!) and later on we practiced the dance with the audience. Then I continued with describing how Hawaiian culture developed over the Islands till the Hawaiian Kingdom was founded by Kamehameha I. I explained how Kamehamehas favoured wife Kaahumanu is honoured by Ha’aheo O Hana and again, how the song and dance shows the interconnection between the land, the plants and the people. The point I made next was the arrival of the Western Culture. I explained how things changed through this encounter, how much knowledge had got lost – because of sickness and death, because of the new religion. I told them that Hula had to be performed in secret because the powerful newcomers did not understand and did not appreciate it. Then I introduced King David Kalakaua and how he brought Hula into life again. I told them that he was interested in learning more about Western and Other Cultures, so he decided to travel the world and gain more knowledge. Here I asked the children to imagine the Honolulu Harbour, the royal vessel and all the people gathering on shore to say Goodbye to the king. The ladies performed Kawika. Then I explained how new instruments and new professions influenced the Hula. We danced Paniolo O Molokai and made the children play the horses. At the end of the performance I made clear that although life on Hawaii has changed so much, Hawaiian culture is very much alive. Also today songs are written and performed which honour the land, the plants, and the people as belonging together. Hoola Lahui was our example for this.

We also danced at the birthday celebration of another Children’s Organisation, and we and the children had a lot of fun, but the program described above was a real highlight in our work, having given us the chance to concentrate on topics important to us.

Our plans for this year are participation in the Berliner Karneval-der-Kulturen (www.karneval-der-kulturen.de) in the Beginning of June. This is a really big event celebrating all the different ethnic and cultural groups in Berlin. The Polynesian Group invited us to join their performance. End of June the Polynesian Gathering at Sachsenbrunn will take place. There we will also dance (www.pacific-info.de).

These events are both very popular. We hope, many people will get to know us there and so maybe our small but growing group will gain even more members.

We send our best wishes from the other side of the world!
Luana + Na Manu