The Importance of Keeping The Tradition

Hula has gained worldwide popularity, especially in Japan. Eric Takahata of Hawaii Tourism Japan has heard that Japan has about two million professional hula dancers. This is compared to his quote of much less than 50,000 across the state of Hawaii. There’s no official count of Hawaii dancers, even the Merrie Monarch Celebration does not keep track, says court Ainsley Halemau. Others have estimated that Hawaii has around 8,000 to 20,000 hula professional dancers. A smaller state compared to Japan.

Having Proper Training

Some Hawaii kumu started teaching in Japan over the concern that individuals there really did not have proper training. Some were opening up schools and also calling themselves kumu. That’s why Kumu Kaui Dalire felt an obligation to make sure the practices of hula, as well as Hawaiian culture, were handed down properly. So she launched ikumuhula.com, to offer hula classes online.

The Price For Living In Hawaii

Kumu Kaui Dalire has halau in Kaneohe, Japan, Australia, Mexico as well as on the Mainland. She says many kumu had a problem with whether to start educating outside Hawaii due to the fact that they feared they were selling out the Hawaiian culture. “I absolutely believe One Hundred Percent that we have actually been provided this skill for a reason,” she says. “We should not be made ashamed to be able to profit from it in such a way that sustains us. Living in Hawaii is not only difficult but it’s expensive. “I’m just satisfied that I have the ability to be able to provide for my 5 children as a single parent.”

Kumu Hula Maelia Loebenstein Carter Speaks

Maelia Loebenstein Carter, kumu hula of Ka Hula o Kauanoe o Waahila, was one of them kumu who originally struggled with the idea of training in Japan. Today she currently has 600 or 700 pupils throughout her 9 Japanese halau branches. Yet she says it’s not a business venture, it’s about being a presence of traditional hula. “I knew that when my day of reckoning came, I would be able to face my kupuna. They would know that I didn’t sell out our culture”.

Being Good Stewards of The Culture

Hawaiian kumu are teaching Japanese students to be excellent stewards of hula and also its traditions. However, if the kumu or their Japanese partners are merely in it to earn money, “Forget the olelo Hawaii and the culture, you’ve already sold it. So to wrap this up in a few words, Kumu hula has to be responsible for what they share in Japan.

Explained by Kumu Hula Nani Lim-Yap of   Lei O Holoku