Hawaii - The Pearl of my Voyage
Hula is one of the most common representations of Hawaiian culture, tradition, and art. The dance was initially practiced by men, specifically warriors, and the relationship between hula and music arose from very early in the history of the island state. Kumu hula is the main source of Hula; Kumu also means teacher or master. According to Kumu Kanoe Cazimero, Hula does not exist without music, there is no Hula without chant and Hula was created when the Portuguese brought the guitar and their music and Hawaiians created the ukulele from the guitar and developed their own music and adapted to their own lifestyle, language, and traditions. In the beginning hula was practiced only by Kane, men, and then later women started to practice and dancing hula.
There are two types of hula: kahiko and auana. Kahiko hula is the ancient version of hula and was developed with Pre-Europeans dance moves and chants. Auana hula is the modern version of hula and it more delicate that kahiko hula and auana hula was mostly affected the European music styles and dances. Our Kumu said that adaptation is the base to learn hula because she did not choose to become a Kumu; when she was a child her parents made her dance hula. Hula is an important tradition of her family and it exists in her family for years. Our kumu followed the traditions and made her grandmother proud. Thus, she kept the tradition alive; Kumu Kanoe found her passion and talent in hula, through hula she is able to share aloha, talent, love, and way of living.
In the halau hula in order to graduate and become a Kumu, students need to live with their Kumu, cook for themselves, chant everything and ask permission every day, blessing everything they do. In which their whole life become emerged with the other hula brothers and sisters. Thus, be able to teach other people. Kumu Kanoe never graduated from the halau hula as a Kumu hula because in order to graduated it entails doing the kahiko or the chant hula, but her passion was auana hula, the softer style of hula, and she received full support from her Kumu because it was what her heart wanted, and it was the most unique she has to share her talent and spread all her knowledge and love. She is a source for young people, a source that will help them in the most important school called life, and with her guidance, young people will be to find their talent, their identity, and how they to spread their aloha.
The challenges of hula are adaption and the ability to handle changes. It is hard to do something relevant and it is hard to represent the Hawaiian memories through the hula. Thus, hula students need to be very disciplined and follow all the instructions given by their kumu. The kumu will always decide what the dancers are supposed to do.
In the Queen Emma Summer Palace, we had the opportunity to deepen our understanding of Hawaiian history, the kingdom, and who Queen Emma was. Queen Emma was married to King Kamehameha IV and they has a beautiful son called Prince Alexander that died at the age of four. Queen Emma was a warrior and a courageous woman; she fought for her people and did everything she could to help them survive from the diseases brought by the Europeans. Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV helped Hawaiians in time of crisis.
The royal family fund raised a lot of money to construct a medical center, buy medical equipment, and have doctors in medical center. However, the medical center was built, it was too small, and many Hawaiian died because their immune system could not handle the diseases. Queen Emma at the young age learned how to prepare medicine and help in the medical center to save Hawaiians. Queen Emma’s story is very inspiring and sad at the same time because she lost her husband and her son in the same period. Although she was going through a hard time, Queen Emma never gave up and continued to fight until her death. I believe that one of my favorites moment in Queen Emma’s Palace was when we entered in Prince Alexander’s room and listened to the sad story of his death, his room and some of his memories are still saved at the palace.
Mana Mele Project is a non-governmental project that works with high schools and indigenous tribes in Hawaii; the project implements music in the academic curriculum and uses music as a method of learning. Mana Mele means song or story, and the project uses music and story to tough young people. The people in this project create music and use it to educate primary and elementary levels in high schools. The main goals of the project are: go to the elders, sing for them and hear the elders’ stories; make students learn through music; touch students with music and multimedia; and making quarter of the high schools in Hawaii accept their program. Thus, enable students to get a diploma through music for four years of academic credit. In their campus they create kupuna archives, traditional mele, informational videos, and instructional videos.
The concept of taking care of the community is very important in Mana Mele project. Therefore, most of their profits are offered to their community, the indigenous people. In Mana Mele project most of their music is produced in a mobile studio, a solar sustained mobile studio, and many different instruments are used such as guitars, saxophones, ukuleles, drums, and many others musical instruments. The biggest challenge of this project is money, finding a good funding because it is very expensive to produce music and the government does not assist them. This project is sustained by grants and donations.
Although money is a big issue, the project has a very beautiful mission and everything they do is not for money but for education and make their students become someone that we will be able to carry on the Hawaiian music and be able to share the experiences and knowledge through music and multimedia.
Music is used to bring everyone together and eliminate segregation. Most of the music are in Hawaiian language because they want to keep the Hawaiian language alive. Aloha is another concept in their mission; since aloha as many meaning, in Mana Mele project aloha is welcoming people from all the backgrounds and cultures and interact or create beautiful moments with them. All the mentors have the goal to just giving back to their community; through teaching music to the beautiful young people and interact with them. They believe that is more effective to get student through music and multimedia. The first two schools that they chose to work with are schools that still teach Hawaiian language, and culture, and schools that Polynesians could attend back in the days. Their main is to make students proud of who they are and where they come from. Thus, celebrating the differences within a tribe, community, or a different culture.
Getting educated about Hawaiian history, the hula, and mana mele project made this field class become more than just a field class. Hawaii is aloha, aloha is love, aloha is giving because you want to share and spread love and what you have the best, not giving to receive something in return. Hula connects with the music, the dance, the movement, and the essence of being. The history of the kingdom and how the royal family used to approach the other villages and other ceremonies was very similar to the Angola history when we had the royal family, so I could identify with part of the Hawaiian history. Kumu Kanoe Cazimero was an amazing storyteller and the way she was answering our questions was so unique and she was answering all the questions with so much knowledge and passion. Thus, it was magical to find a connection with her because I was able to develop a deep understanding of Hula and life itself.
The interaction with the students and musicians in Roosevelt High school was amazing and the introductory game was a very good way to make us be very comfortable and be able to develop a connection with the students and the musicians of mana mele project. The fact that we could learn the music, the language, part of the history, and their struggles made me richer than I was. I could delete the single story I had of Hawaii, yet I had the opportunity to learn more about Hawaiian music because it did touch my heart and soul. Singing with them was magical and beautiful moment. Thus it enriched my visit to Hawaii.