Here’s where hula happens on Oahu

By Lynn Cook / Special to the Star-Advertiser on April 20, 2014

For many aficionados, spending three consecutive nights on a Hilo bleacher seat or parked on the couch in front of the television watching the Merrie Monarch Festival is considered hula heaven.

But if you didn’t get a ticket to the annual event, work nights and can’t watch the live broadcasts on KFVE, or want hula “on demand” or up close and personal, there are plenty of other opportunities to see Hawaii’s native dance.

Every day, all year, someone is dancing hula for the joy of dancing and for you, the audience, to enjoy. On Oahu, hula is plentiful, accessible and often free. The dancers come from the finest hula lineage, and there is at least one hula festival a month.

More than a thing to do when relatives visit, hula is here for all of us. And no groaning about going to Waikiki. Just remember, people pay thousands of dollars to visit, and we have it for a few quarters in a parking meter.

Check the weekly TGIF section on Fridays for new and one-time hula events, or visit www.gohawaii.com.

» Kuhio Beach Hula Show, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at the beachside hula mound where Ulu­niu Street meets Kala­kaua Avenue in Wai­kiki. Always weather permitting, the opening is a torch lighting and chant. Stand on the sand or set up beach chairs and mats on the grass. Marne Weeks is the force behind years of free hula, finding generous sponsors to bring the best to the beach. Tuesdays it’s Ainsley Hale­manu and Hula Halau Ka Liko o ka Pili; Thursdays, Joan “Auntie Pudgie” Young and Pua­me­lia. Saturday evenings bring assorted kumu hula and their dancers, including Shirley Recca, Coline Aiu, Lili­noe Lindsey and Sallie Yoza. Parking is available at street meters or the pay lot at the Hono­lulu Zoo.

» Helumoa at Royal Hawaiian Center’s Royal Grove offers a rare treat: hula kahiko (ancient-style hula) from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Saturdays. The center’s cultural adviser, kumu hula Manu Boyd, invites Merrie Monarch-winning kumu and their dancers to fill the stage under the banyan tree, accompanied by drum and hula implements. Sit on the grass or stand on the walkways of the park dedicated to Princess Bernice Pau­ahi Bishop. Contemporary island music follows from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., often with impromptu hula.

Free lessons in basic hula hands and feet, accompanied by chant or mele (song), take place at 11 a.m. Tuesdays and 4 p.m. Thursdays at Helu­moa. The sessions are led by Pua­ke‘ala Mann, kumu hula and graduate of hula master Maiki Aiu Lake.

Royal Hawaiian Center parking is a bargain: It’s free for one hour with a $10 minimum purchase validation and $1 per hour for the next three hours.

» Waikiki Beach Walk, 4:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays at Plaza Lawn on Lewers Street. Kumu hula Blaine Kama­lani Kia pre­sents his men, women and children dancing in their show, “Ku Ha‘aheo, to Cherish with Pride.” Valet parking at Embassy Suites off Lewers Street is discounted with a Wai­kiki Beach Walk purchase.

» Ala Moana Hula Show, 1 to 1:20 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the mall’s Centerstage. The free show, presented by Old Navy and performed with eight dancers and live music, was created by noted kumu hula Kapu Dalire-Moe.

» Many hotels have music and hula for the price of a drink. The Halekulani’s House Without a Key celebrates the sunset daily with a trio of musicians and dance featuring five former Miss Hawaiis: Kanoe Miller, Debbie Nakanelua Richards, Lauren Matsumoto, Skyler Kamaka and Radasha Ho‘ohuli. Next door, the Outrigger Reef’s Kani Ka Pila Grille has Hawaiian music from 6 to 9 p.m. daily — and you can count on hula dancer sightings. Valet parking is $6 with validation.

Starwood Hotels offers live music with nightly hula: 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Sheraton Waikiki’s poolside bar Edge; 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Royal Hawaiian’s Mai Tai Bar; 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. under the banyan tree at the Moana Surfrider’s Beach Bar; and 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Princess Kaiu­lani’s Lava Rock stage.

» Ticketed events featuring fine hula with dramatic performances include the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s poolside Rockin’ Hawaiian Rainbow Revue at 7 p.m. Fridays, fireworks included ($20 per person includes drink; www.hiltonhawaiianvillage.com); Tihati Productions’ Te Moana Nui on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Pacific Beach Hotel (ask about kamaaina discounts; www.temoananui. com, 441-4880); and the Polynesian Cultural Center’s “Ha: Breath of Life,” 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday ($15 kama­aina special through April; visit www.polynesia.com).

» “Ka Leo Kanaka: Voice of the People,” a rare performance by Patrick Makuakane’s San Francisco halau, Na Lei Hulu i ka Wekiu, is set for 7:30 p.m. May 9 and 10 at Hawaii Theatre. The hula drama is based on stories from the 100 Hawaiian-language newspapers dating from 1834 to 1948. Makuakane’s hula students worked to transcribe more than 1,200 pages of these papers, inspiring epic hula stories. Tickets are $25 to $35; www.hawaiitheatre.com.

FESTIVAL SEASON is year-round. Four not-to-miss events in coming months:

» 87th Annual Lei Day Celebration, May 1 at Kapiolani Park Bandstand, with hula and other entertainment from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; investiture ceremony for Lei Queen and court from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

» Hawaii Book & Music Festival, May 3 and 4 on the grounds of the Frank F. Fasi Civic Center, with free hula performances and panel discussions by Hawaii’s top kumu; hawaiibookandmusicfestival.com.

» 41st Annual King Kamehameha Competition, starting at 1 p.m. June 21 at the Blaisdell Arena. Tickets are $8.50 to $24 for the full day and evening; www.blaisdellcenter.com.

» 37th Annual Prince Lot Hula Festival, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 19 on the hula platform at Moanalua Gardens while the audience relaxes in the shade of the giant monkeypod trees. The event is free; moanaluagardensfoundation.org.