After much collaborative preparation, the team presented the show to a packed house (300+ people) on Saturday night, January 19, 2013. For months preceding the event, Kanani Enos, Akoni Nelsen, and Rachelle Gould worked to understand and jointly interpret the results of Rachelle’s work on Cultural Ecosystem Services in Kona. To create the show, Kanani and Akoni combined their artistic vision with research results, including themes brought up by research participants and direct quotes from interview transcripts. They designed a ‘story arc’ and chose from hundreds of hula dances and chants, a combination of modern and traditional pieces that most fully conveyed some of the main findings from the research. Halau members learned these dances, then rehearsed and refined them in the months leading up to the show. To weave together the dances, chants, and other performances, they wrote dialogue and narration; all of this dialogue and narration was based closely on research findings, and many interviewee quotes found their way verbatim into the show’s script.
Please enjoy a sampling of the show’s many elements below.
The show began depicting a modern-day Makahiki celebration. After this celebration, the actors, a grandfather and his grandson, took the stage and had a conversation composed primarily of direct quotes from a number of interview transcripts:
Tutu Kane (grandfather) -“You know our ́aina, is is important. From the mountains all the way to the ocean. Just like a person... like your kino, your body. From your head... the mountain, all the way down to your feet... the shoreline. Every part with a purpose, every part sustaining life. Every part connected.”
Mo ́opuna (grandson) - “So Papa, if one part of my kino is ma ́i or sick, the rest of my kino feels kind of bad too. Is that the same for the ́aina...?
Tutu kane- “Yes, boy. It is the same... We are stewards of this land. And it is our job to malama and keep our ́aina healthy and in balance, from mountain to the sea... just like our bodies. You see the more we give to the ʻaina, the more we get back. We take care of our land...and our land in return gives us life."
The Kumulipo is often considered the traditional Hawaiian creation chant. In this piece, the performers share the first few lines of this foundational perspective of the Native Hawaiian people. This chant, which continues for thousands of words and goes on to detail the creation of scores of lifeforms, was selected for its representation of the kinship between humans and non-human components of the Earth that is central to the Hawaiian cosmovision, and that emerged in the research as a salient component of ecosystem-human relationships in Kona.
O ke au i kahuli wela ka honua
At the time when the earth became hot
O ke au i kahuli lole ka lani
At the time when the heavens turned about
O ke au i kuka‘iaka ka la
At the time when the sun was darkened
E ho‘omalamalama i ka malama
To cause the moon to shine
O ke au o Makali‘i ka po
The time of the rise of the Pleiades
O ka walewale ho‘okumu honua ia
The slime, this was the source of the earth
O ke kumu o ka lipo, i lipo ai
The source of the darkness that made darkness
O ke kumu o ka Po, i po ai
The source of the night that made night
O ka lipolipo, o ka lipolipo
The intense darkness, the deep darkness
O ka lipo o ka la, o ka lipo o ka po
Darkness of the sun, darkness of the night
Po wale ho--‘i
Nothing but night
Hanau ka po
The night gave birth
This slideshow was a central aspect of the show. Photographs depicting Hawaii’s natural and cultural heritage formed the backdrop of the slideshow, and the words of interviewees were superimposed on these images. Images were generously shared by the Nelsen family and by Jack Jeffrey
Bolo performed a number of original compositions selected for their resonance with show and research themes. He performed both songs and songs combined with spoken word. Bolo is an independent performer using primarily the guitar and ukulele – see his unique “ukeitar” in the video.
This dance was performed to a traditional Hawaiian chant. An excerpt from this chant is below, in both Hawaiian and English. This chant was chosen for the show for its representation of the intertwining of the nonmaterial (e.g., spiritual, moral, aesthetic) and material (e.g., for livelihood) connections between ecosystems and people in Hawaiʻi.
Kaulilua ike anu o Wai`ale`ale
Wai`ale`ale rises haughty and cold
`O ka maka halalo ka lehua makanoe
Where the stunted lehua blossoms droop in the cold
`O ka lihilihi kukü `ia no `Aipo
The leafless bushes on the fringe of `Aipo swamp
`O ka hulu `a`a `ia `o Haua`iliki
The bright feathers that cover Haua`iliki
A i pehi`a ka ua `eha i ka nahele
Pelted by rain, the forest is bruised
E māui e ka pua uwe eha i ke anu
Crushed are the flowers, they weep in the cold
`O ke kūkuna lā wai lehu Mokihana
The sun shines through the hazy mist of Mokihana
Ua hana `ia e ka pono a ua pololei
All things have been done honestly and right
Ua ha`ina `ia aku nō iā oe
As it has been told to you
`O ke ola no ia
The keeper of the pond depends on it
O kia`i loko
For his livelihood
This traditional dance and chant was preceded by the actors discussing the forest, using a compilation of interviewees’ words:
Moʻopuna - “Look Papa! Look at the tree over there... its leaves are moving like it’s dancing...”
Tutu kane - “...Ae... it is the ʻolapa. Listen... have you ever listened to the sound of the wind? It moves through the trees... sshh... you can hear the mele [song] ... deep in this forest, it is Laka... it is the hula.”
Dancer attire in this piece is made from the leaves of the ti plant (Cordyline fruticosa), an important plant in Hawaiian tradition and one of the manifestations of Laka.