Ho‘oulu I Ka Na‘auao

Performed: Carnegie Hall, New York City; NBC Concert Hall, Honolulu, Hawai‘i; Maui Arts & Cultural Center; Tokyo, Japan

“I’ve been asked to tell you a story It’s the story of my people—the Hawaiians…it’s the story of our customs, beliefs, and traditions. It is the story of where we’ve come from, where we are today, and what the future holds.

In the beginning there was darkness…at the time that turned the heat of the earth, at the time when the heavens turned and changed, at the time when the light of the sun was subdued, to cause light to break forth at the time of the night of Makali‘i. Then began the slime, which established the earth, the source of deepest darkness. The source of the night, of the depth of darkness, of the depth of darkness, of the darkness of the sun, in the depth of the night, it is night, so was night born. Kumulipo was born in the night a male.

Pō‘ele was born in the night a female…So the world was born…”

Extraordinary People | June 28–July 4, 2000
by Elizabeth Zimmer dance critic for the New York Village Voice.

Sonny Ching, a popular Hawaiian performer, teacher, and cultural activist, brought to Carnegie Hall a huge group of students from the hula school Hālau Nā Mamo O Pu‘uanahulu in Ho‘oulu I Ka Na‘auao, which means “to grow in wisdom.” Ranging from teens to dignified seniors, the dancers animated what was essentially a documentary on 300 years of cultural politics in Hawai‘i. From intensely rhythmic dance, chanting, slides, video, song, and story, Ching and his associates rendered a world now lost, accounted for its destruction, and demonstrated how ancient hula and the chants that attend it are being retrieved and practiced today. The anemic hula staged for tourists, derived from the bowdlerized version of the form imposed by missionaries, contrasts dramatically with its vital religious roots in creation myths and convictions about mutual custody of the land. More compelling than Riverdance, this show deserves a run at Radio City Music Hall.