A Whole ‘Lot’ Of Hula
After a four-year hiatus, the iconic Prince Lot Hula Festival returns to an in-person format this weekend. Presented by Moanalua Gardens Foundation, the festival runs from 9a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 15 at the Frank F. Fasi Civic Grounds in Honolulu.
Twelve hula hālau from across the state will perform live, showcasing their love for the art form and their culture. The festival also boasts a Hawaiian-inspired craft fair, interactive cultural demonstrations such as poi pounding, lei making and lauhala weaving, educational displays, ‘ono local foods, a concert by the Royal Hawaiian Band and more.
“We are excited to be returning to our first live in-person Prince Lot Hula Festival in four years and invite the entire community and visitors to join us for a day of beautiful hula, cultural demonstrations, good food and more,” states Leilani Williams-Solomon, president of the foundation’s board of directors.
This year, renowned kumu hula Pōhaikealoha Souza of hula hālau Kamamolikolehua will receive the foundation’s prestigious Malia Kau award for her lifetime contributions to the art of hula.
“We wanted to establish an award that would recognize only the kumu hula, who have for years and years, perpetuated their lineage, educated their haumana (students), perpetuated the oli (chant), the mele (song) and all the traditional arts that go with hula,” says managing director Pauline Worsham.
Souza says she’s “humbled and honored” to be a recipient of the award.
“As a kumu hula, I know that I am just a conduit for all those kumu, past and present, who have touched my life. The honor belongs to them,” she shares. “Like the theme of this year’s Prince Lot (Ola ka Hula i ka Po‘e Hula) says, ‘Hula lives because of hula people.’ They are the ones who have set the example for us to follow.”
Souza credits her tūtū, Pō‘ai Awana, for instilling her love of Hawaiian culture. She explains that when she was just 3, her tūtū took her to her first hula class with Uncle George Holokai at his Beretania Street studio. Her passion for hula only grew from there, as she danced for her auntie, the legendary Ma‘iki Aiu, at her Ke‘eaumoku Street hālau until her college years, and that eventually put her on the path to becoming a kumu hula herself.
Along the way, she received mentorship under kumu hula Mae Kamāmalu Klein until she founded her own school, Hālau Hula Kamamolikolehua, in 1996. The hālau performs at many community events including Hawai‘i Mission House’s Mele Series, Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival, Aloha Week Festival, numerous concerts and, of course, the Prince Lot Hula Festival.
Worsham invites locals and visitors alike to experience this authentic hula festival, which she describes as a “catalyst bringing the entire community together.”
Admission is free and open to the public. Additionally, free parking is available at the Frank F. Fasi Municipal Building and the Board of Water Supply lot.
For more information or to make a donation, visit moanaluagardensfoundation.org or call 808-839-5334.