From January 27 to 29 this year, Kumu Lei was in San Diego, California, helming the third edition of Hawaiian Hula International’s (HHI) extremely successful annual hula workshop series, run by Hula Kahanoa. Hula Kahanoa is the mainland USA extension of the hālau here on Kaua’i, and it is led by Aunty Kahanoa Floresca.
As with previous years, this edition’s workshops were planned around equipping all participants with not only hula choreography for the year ahead, but also understanding of aloha, cultural and historical wisdom and guidance, and a sense of respect and honour for important figures in Hawaiian history, kupuna, and Ke Akua.
This year, HHI is celebrating the 100-year anniversary of Queen Lili’uokalani’s reign, which ended in 1917, and as such the workshops were themed after her personal motto: E onipa’a i ka ‘imi na’auao – Be steadfast in the seeking of knowledge.
Kumu Lei was formally welcomed to San Diego at a special reception by the hālau. Students presented her with ho’okupu and leis to express their love, honour and blessings to her, and also in accordance to the tradition of recognising and honouring the kumu hula for all that she imparts through her teaching. It was evident from everyone’s expressions and actions that much thought, care and aloha went into the planning, preparation and presentation of the gifts.
This year’s event was special in that Kumu Lei’s two sisters, Kuulei and Lelala, attended the workshops. It was a great experience for them to be able to share in what Kumu Lei is doing to spread the beauty of hula, and also a wonderful time for the siblings to spend some precious time together and enjoy San Diego’s beauty and aloha.
Below are some snapshots from the workshops, and the ho’ike on January 29 which was a wonderful roundup of the entire three-day event.