LA hula dancers get invited to the big show (video)

KON-dancer-2007-ha.jpgFor reasons that are too obscure to go into, I have come recently to appreciate the art and tradition of Hawaii's hula culture. I don't know much, but I do know that it's a big thing for your hula school, or hālau, to be invited to compete in the annual Merrie Monarch Festival held each spring in Hilo. This year there are just three hālau from outside Hawaii to be entered, and two of them are from the Los Angeles area. Hālau O Lilinoe is based in Carson, and Hālau Kealiʻi O Nālani is in West Los Angeles. These are some serious hula practitioners. Both hālau have sent dancers to Hilo before.

The former, Hālau O Lilinoe, is holding a fundraising breakfast on Sunday in Lakewood to help send troupes of men and women to Hilo in April. Last Christmas season, the hālau's members performed in the Music Center's free holiday concert and KCET did a short video feature on the group.

Here's a stunning performance in 2011 by Kanani Yamashita-lida of Hālau Kealiʻi O Nālani. She is accompanied by her kumu hula, or teacher, Keali'i Ceballos.

The Hilo festival runs for several days and key parts of the competition air live on television in the islands.

Photo of Halau Keali'i O Nalani dancer at Merrie Monarch Festival in 2007: Rebecca Breyer/Honolulu Advertiser

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