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KaHulaHou 2010: The Battle of the Decade!
Oct. 2, 2010, San Mateo, CA — As the countdown clock approached zero and the lights dimmed, anticipation grew in the audience gathered in the Fiesta Hall at the San Mateo Events Center. The excitement built as the the KaHulaHou preview trailer played on the giant overhead screens and MC “Mento” Mele introduced the contenders. And finally, to the roaring of the crowd, the battle for the KaHulaHou Championship Title began!
The Battle Rounds
This year’s contenders truly stepped up to put their pride on the line in the KaHulaHou Arena during the battle rounds. From Federal Way, WA came the Men of Manawaiopuna with Kumu Hula Kamaile Hamada, accepting the KaHulaHou challenge for the second time. They won approval from the audience with a sexy rendition of “Ha’u Ha’u E,” a mele ma’i (procreation song) which left little to the imagination! Another strong entry was “Ha’ule Mai ‘O Pele Mai Kahiki,” in which the Men wowed the crowd with their strength, repeatedly kneeling and leaning all the way back to the arena floor.
The Men of Kaleo o Nalani, under the direction of Siaosi Veimau, put up a strong contention for the Championship title with a series of dramatic, crowd-pleasing kahiko numbers. In their first performance, “Ku Ana Ke Koa,” one dancer took the role of the great king Kamehameha Nui, while four others portrayed his powerful warriors. With “Hikikau’elia ka Malama,” the Men made athletic use of kala’au (staffs) and ipu wai (gourds), closing their performance by smashing their ipu together and leaving the shards on the arena floor in a clear challenge to their opponents.
Coming all the way from Markham, Ontario, the Men of Halau Hula o Walea brought an abundance of Canadian pride to the KaHulaHou arena. One notable kahiko number celebrated the many voices of the forest birds, with the dancers mimicking the motions of the ‘io (hawk), ‘iwa (frigate bird), pueo (owl), and nene (goose). The Men also celebrated the wide world of sports with “Mea Pa’ani Kinipopo.” Their imitations of the motions of football, basketball , volleyball and more drew cheers, but the greatest audience reaction came at the end, when the Men tore off their pants to reveal black Speedos boldly decorated with Canadian flags!
The defending champions from the Academy of Hawaiian Arts returned under the direction of Kumu Hula Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu. For their first entry, they reprised their winning performance from last year, recreating the holua (sled) race between Pele and an arrogant, cocksure young chief. Another highlight of the evening was their performance of the spirited ‘auana “Papa Sia,” in which the dancers told the story of a notable carouser who gets in trouble with his angry wife. During this performance, AHA delivered a public challenge to audience member Kumu Patrick Makuakane, daring him to enter his men as contenders for KaHulaHou 2011!
Putting Everything on the Line for the Championship!
Going into the final round, the Academy of Hawaiian Arts stood in first place. Kumu Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu personally challenged all three of the other teams to face him in the championship round, upping the pot from $2000 to $4000. Enticed by the chance to win everything, all four teams met for one final battle.
The Men of Manawaiopuna led the way with a medley of “Lumaha’i” and “Kananaka…” two fun ‘auana which they performed expressively and with precision. During the latter number, a playful song about a man-snatching mermaid, the audience was delighted when Mele hopped on the stage to join the action!
The Men of Kaleo o Nalani daringly asked their opponent, Kumu Ho’omalu, to chant his own “Hana Nui o Maui” for them as director Siaosi Veimau joined his team on the arena floor. So intense and vivid was Siaosi’s portrayal of the heroic demigod Maui that Kumu Ho’omalu formally announced that he was giving the song to Siaosi as his own.
Dressed as bikers in leather jackets, jeans and shades, The Men of Halau o Walea rode next into the arena for “Holoholo Ka’a/Mokokaikala.” The audience went wild as the Men slipped their shades on and off, grooving across the stage as the musicians imitated the “vroom” of the motorcycle. And at the end, Kumu Hula Joy Walea Corpuz jumped on for a ride, waving the Canadian flag with pride!
At last, however, the Men of the Academy of Hawaiian Arts brought the house down with their final power play. Shaking up the arena with seventeen ho’opa (accompanyists) on immense pahu (drums) to play for the team’s five contenders, the Academy’s final number was an awe-inspiring mix of vocals, drumbeats, and dance that blew the crowd away. As Mele called on the audience to make their final vote, the people let their choice be known with cheers, wild applause and banging of thunder sticks: The Academy of Hawaiian Arts took the Championship Title for the second year!
KaHulaHou 2010 is now in the history books; a thrilling event for audience and contenders alike. We hope that it has inspired you with a new appreciation for men’s hula. And most of all, we look forward to having you join us at KaHulaHou 2011!